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The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 20

Posted by indigodream on 7 July, 2008

Winson Green Loop - Nature Trail

Winson Green Loop - Nature Trail

If you’ve read Day 19 then you’ll know what we did today – that’s right – Birmingham, again!

We were joined today by some old friends from university. They live just south of Birmingham and as Pal has roots in the city and Liz hails from Dudley they were looking forward to seeing their home turf from the water. Their 9-year old son has gone canal mad recently so he had a good time as well. His little sister was very well-behaved but she kept telling us to “go faster” so I’m not sure that narrowboating will be her destiny!

We almost had too many options – go back on the BCN to Cambrian Wharf, go back as far as Windmill End Junction and explore the Halesowen Branch or head South towards Kinver. In the end, because Richard had been seduced by cheap first class tickets home on Sunday evening, we opted to go back to the town centre with its easy access to the station – hurrah!

Telford\'s arraow-straight mainline
Telford’s arrow-straight mainline

We didn’t do quite as many loops on our way back (time constraints) so we spent a bit more time on the mainline – what a canal – wide and almost unnaturally straight – it’s a great sight.

As I described our trip in some detail yesterday I’ll let the photos do the talking today (most of these are from Saturday so going the other way!).

It’s worth noting that we scraped across more submerged objects today (though we didn’t hit anything yesterday). We joked that the local yobs had been busy pushing cars into the canal overnight 🙂 It’s more likely that there’s a cleaner passage on the right (going west out of Birmingham). This means that coming back into Birmingham (east) you may want to cruise further to the left (i.e. on the wrong side!) if you have the canal to yourself.

The M5 IN the mainline

The M5 IN the mainline

We were also interested by the water by the Spon Lane locks – it’s full of oil or maybe tar. As the prop cut through it there was a powerful smell of thick oil. We lost steerage in the bottom lock and when Richard opened the weedhatch he couldn’t see the prop through the opaque black water. There was the usual mulch of plastic bags round the prop along with some actual weed! We had to clear the prop again at the top lock so under the oily sludge that passes for water here there’s a splendid sediment of garbage.

My plans for buying cheap derelict factories and making my millions as a property developer hit a snag here! Not much point buying land here for £1 if I then need to find £10 million just to decontaminate it. There’s always some trivia to scupper my cunning plans……

Other than that we had an uninterrupted day’s cruising – no bandits and we weren’t hit by anything more sinister than the torrential rain as a storm caught up with us. This time we sheltered under a wide bridge for a while – we wouldn’t normally block the waterways but the BCN is so quiet – I don’t remember meeting ANY boats today.

Doggie Update:

The dogs have had a very exhausting weekend – two long train journeys, being on the boat, lack of space to run and dealing with a curious 5-year old. Ok, I have pointed out to them that this honestly doesn’t amount to abuse; but they didn’t rest as much as they normally do and, like toddlers, they get fed up if they haven’t had enough sleep! So, today (Monday) they didn’t get up until noon, ran outside, then 5 minutes later ran back upstairs to bed. I didn’t hear from them again until 3pm. They seemed awake so I took them to the park. Lou walked with us for 5 minutes before running back to the car at full pace…….

And finally…..

To the narrowboat that was kind enough to wave at the train not far from Banbury at 6.10pm – we did wave back – hope you saw us. Have a great cruise!


Some more of our favourite views from days 19 and 20….

Icknield Port Loop

Icknield Port Loop

Icknield Port Loop: Fine factories ripe for development with the reservoir looming overhead.

Looks like Winson Green Prison used to have it’s own branch. Just round the corner is Asylum Bridge – a sign of the times when the “mad and the bad” were all lumped together

We were tickled by this train depot over looking the canal – don’t forget to apply the hand brake!

Smethwick Pumping Station Chimney
Neat canalside access
Brades Bottom Lock - Mind your head!

Brades Bottom Lock - Mind your head!

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