It was chucking it down first thing but I had confidence that it would at least let up later in the morning. Helen didn't waste the time and baked a coffee and walnut cake. By 1100 the sky brightened and the rain stopped so we made a start. Helen gave a slice of cake to Phil who we had a chat with and told us to moor where we did.
Fence art at the top of the Oldbury Locks
By the time we had reversed out of the arm and set the top lock it had started with a light drizzle. It was that rain where it is hard to decide whether your body heat would be enough to keep you dry or it was just enough for a waterproof. That is how it stayed for the rest of the day. Occasional donning of the waterproof when it got a bit thicker. This is looking down the flight from No.2 lock and towards the M5.
At the bottom of the flight at Oldbury Junction we turned left under the motorway on the Old Main Line. We passed to boats moving and of course one was at a bridge. We were soon at Brades Hall Junction and turning on to the Gower Branch. The first two ,locks are a staircase
I checked that the second lock was empty but it really didn't look as though there was enough room for all from the top lock. Of course there was. The middle gate is quite big.
On the way down the Gower Branch I had a glimpse of something behind the fence. It turned out to be the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Hindu Temple. The land was bought in 1995 ans the site has been slowly developed since then with fountains added in 2011.
This is what the whole thing looks like. Who would have thought it in that location.
When we got to Albion Junctio at the New Main Line we turned right towards Birmingham. I boat passed just before we turned out. When we got to Pudding Green Junction we turned left on to the Wednesbury Old Canal and headed into the unknown. It was quite shallow from the beginning.
We then got to Ryders Green Junction and despite the dull day decided to have a look up the arm towards Swan village. A nice sounding name, but that on the sign post was actually more appropriate, Black Lake.
The canal got more shallow and there were floating reed islands to contend with. Heaven knows what this is on the bottom of the canal that is getting churned up.
We had got just about half way, past the second roving bridge that we came across this. There was no chance of getting through this so we had to reverse out. I used the pole at the stern to guide us as we came slowly astern. Surprisingly the bottom was very firm, after you got through the silt.
We got back to Ryders Green Junction with not too many problems and then headed down the Ryders Green Locks.
There was a couple walking the canal who seemed mesmerised by us as we approached as she said they had never seen a boat on the canal before. She also said that she didn't know that the 8 locks here existed as they normally walk the other direction! We are now on the Walsall Canal looking down the Ryders Green Locks.
Helen was getting cold by the time we were half way down so I suggested she take over on the lock wheeling to get her circulation going and she gladly accepted.
Looking back up the locks from No.7.
After tyhe locks it wasn't too much further to our overnight mooring. Just before the Tame Valley Junction the Ocker Hill Branch left the Walsall Canal. The start of it is residential moorings and was C&RT offices. These are shut up now but there is water and rubbish here. The Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch was in use to pump water back up to top of the locks. The water ran through the tunnel. A pumping station was built in 1784 and worked for 164 years until 1948. There are a couple of moorings just inside the bridge along with the residential moorings.