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BCN Marathon Challenge (3) – Saturday 5pm – 8pm

Posted by indigodream on 30 May, 2009

Horseley Fields Junction (5pm) to Sneyd Junction Bridge

No photos with this one – the connection’s just too slow and we’re saving our energy for steering! We’ll post them on a photoblog tomorrow.

This was our first proper foray onto the Wyrley and Essington and we found plenty of interest. There are some lovely places along the canal and, once again, the locals were friendly and interested. No wonder, most were amazed at the amount of boat traffic that had passed today – we were the fifth in line on a waterway where they can go months without seeing a boat.

There were some tricky bridges to negotiate – Rookery Bridge is narrow on a sharp blind bend – Richard reckoned there would have been collisions aplenty when the canal was in its heyday. No worries for us though. The next was Church Bridge, which fishermen had warned us was shallow. They said that the four boats in front of us had all got stuck there. We cruised through without any hassle and guessed that it was four deep drafted working boats.

As it happens, the shallow bit was beyond the bridge where there seem to be some major works going on, possibly to do with the gas main. The towpath is totally blocked off and the working pontoon extended well into the canal. According to another local fisherman, the whole canal has been closed for a while.

This was confirmed when we ran into Fulbourne, who was plodding along gamely (though when we saw her she’d stopped to clear weeds from the prop). They courteously let us pass, though we did send a while brested up and chatting.

They had indeed got grounded, along with nb Malus and nb Atlas – the working pair who followed us out from Hawne Basin. They’d apparently been towed free by a little narrowboat (didn’t catch the name) but had been having a slow time of it since.

I must mention Elaine, one of Fulbourne’s long-standing crew members. She looked fabulous in traditional dress with matching blouse, full skirts and bonnet.

There are several marked 48-hour moorings here which didn’t look too bad at all. They were convenient for pubs, which always fits our bill!

It being such a lovely evening, there were a lot of people on the towpath. Now, my suspicious mind made criminals of them all but that’s grossly unfair. One man walking with his kids was shocked to hear what a bad reputation the canal has – he says you’ll never have trouble here. His youngest, who must have been five or six, seriously informed us that he’d caught the biggest fish ever in his little net – ‘abut as big as the boat’ was his estimate!

We did see two lads carrying a mattress along the towpath with the clear intention of chucking in the water. We took photos and shouted at them to take it to the tip. We were heartened when other walkers shouted at them as well. Of course, they’ll just walk down to a more deserted part of the path and in it will go – b”$$%^&.

A little further on we caught our first foreign body round the prop – a fleece hood, which, for such a small garment, was surprisingly effective at stopping the prop. It’s always clothing on the BCN – why?

The canal wanders gently through the suburbs – there’s lush growth all around and the canal’s wide enough not to feel oppressive as it passes by neat gardens and even one end-of-garden mooring for nb. Alice. The only menace here was the clouds of smoke emanating from the various barbecues that everyone had on the go. Just up from Perry Hall Bridge I got a bit concerned by a gang of very tiny kids holding what seemed to be water balloons. I kept my eye on them and got even more concerned when they were joined by two older kids on bikes. The vision of being chased down the towpath being pelted with balloons filled my imagination. But the big kids were just fascinated by the boat, asking lots of questions and seemingly genuinely interested in the answers. The litte kids just looked slight bemused, in the way of 5-year olds.

Later on we were passed by a modern working boat, not part of the challenge, who gesticulated wildly for me to get in to the side. I snuck in, and promptly ran aground a metre from the bank. Ah well, there’s something quite relaxing about being aground, you know you’re stuck and there’s nothing to be done until the passing boat shunts some water your way. As they went past I had a surge of sympathy from them. The first in line was a dredger with it’s front end running under the water; it was towing a tug which was towing an empty full-length butty. The tug apparently has a 4’ 6” draught – uh, good luck with that then….

All around Bentley Wharf footbridge, suburbia gives way to countryside; there may well be a nature reserve of some sort here. By now it was 7.15pm and on a normal day we’d have moored here without hesitation, for the dogs if nothing else.

A little way past the footbridge the noise of the traffic suddenly intruded and there was the M6, running next to the canal before marching over our heads at the next bridge.

The whole of the Curley Wyrely has been a revelation so far – it really is a great canal. But there was more to come at Sneyd Junction Bridge. It’s a sharp right turn at the junction and I caught a glimpse of some residential moorings beyond the bridge. Unfortunately I fluffed the turn but my excuse was that I had a tyre wrapped round the prop!  Not a big one, probably from a mountain bike or similar but I’ve never know the prop stop faster. From previous accounts, it’s not the BCN Challenge unless you pick up a tyre; I think that should be worth a few bonus points!

We got through the bridge to find a very friendly community of boaters. The working pair, Malus and Atlas, together with their ‘towing’ buddy had stopped here for supper. One of the residents kindly let us brest up to her boat, so we took advantage and got rid of the two binfuls of weed at the rubbish point, ate our supper and chatted (they’re very doggie people here – average dog-population of 3 per boat!).

We moved on, with some reluctance, at 8.10pm with a few more hours ahead of us. Though we did move on optimistically, with the hope that if the rest of the Wyrley and Essington were as good then we’d be in for a fine night’s cruise.

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Horseley Fields Junction (5pm) to Sneyd Junction Bridge

This was our first proper foray onto the Wyrley and Essington and we found plenty of interest. There are some lovely places along the canal and, once again, the locals were friendly and interested. No wonder, most were amazed at the amount of boat traffic that had passed today – we were the fifth in line on a waterway where they can go months without seeing a boat.

There were some tricky bridges to negotiate – Rookery Bridge is narrow on a sharp blind bend – Richard reckoned there would have been collisions aplenty when the canal was in its heyday. No worries for us though. The next was Church Bridge, which fishermen had warned us was shallow. They said that the four boats in front of us had all got stuck there. We cruised through without any hassle and guessed that it was four deep drafted working boats.

As it happens, the shallow bit was beyond the bridge where there seem to be some major works going on, possibly to do with the gas main. The towpath is totally blocked off and the working pontoon extended well into the canal. According to another local fisherman, the whole canal has been closed for a while.

This was confirmed when we ran into Fulbourne, who was plodding along gamely (though when we saw her she’d stopped to clear weeds from the prop). They courteously let us pass, though we did send a while brested up and chatting.

They had indeed got grounded, along with nb Malus and nb Atlas – the working pair who followed us out from Hawne Basin. They’d apparently been towed free by a little narrowboat (didn’t catch the name) but had been having a slow time of it since.

I must mention Elaine, one of Fulbourne’s long-standing crew members. She looked fabulous in traditional dress with matching blouse, full skirts and bonnet.

There are several marked 48-hour moorings here which didn’t look too bad at all. They were convenient for pubs, which always fits our bill!

It being such a lovely evening, there were a lot of people on the towpath. Now, my suspicious mind made criminals of them all but that’s grossly unfair. One man walking with his kids was shocked to hear what a bad reputation the canal has – he says you’ll never have trouble here. His youngest, who must have been five or six, seriously informed us that he’d caught the biggest fish in his little net – ‘abut as big as the boat’ was the verdict!

We did see two lads carrying a mattress along the towpath with the clear intention of chucking in the water. We took photos and shouted at them to take it to the tip. We were heartened when other walkers shouted at them as well. Of course, they’ll just walk down to a more deserted part of the path and in it will go – buggers.

A little further on we caught our first foreign body round the prop – a fleece hood, which, for such a small garment, was surprisingly effective at stopping the prop. It’s always clothing on the BCN – why?

The canal wanders gently through the suburbs – there’s lush growth all around and the canal’s wide enough not to feel oppressive as it passes by neat gardens and even one end-of-garden mooring for nb. Alice. The only menace here was the clouds of smoke emanating from the various barbecues that everyone had on the go. Just up from Perry Hall Bridge I got a bit concerned by a gang of very tiny kids holding what seemed to be water balloons. I kept my eye on them and got even more concerned when they were joined by two older kids on bikes. The vision of being chased down the towpath being pelted with balloons filled my imagination. But the big kids were just fascinated by the boat, asking lots of questions and seemingly genuinely interested in the answers.

Later on we were passed by a modern working boat, not part of the challenge, who gesticulated wildly for me to get out of the way. I snuck into the side and promptly ran aground a meter from the bank. Ah well, there’s something quite relaxing about being aground, you know you’re stuck and there’s nothing to be done until the passing boat shunts some water your way. As they went past I had a surge of sympathy from them. The first in line was a dredger with it’s front end running under the water; it was towing a tug which was towing an empty full-length butty. The tug apparently has a 4’ 6” draught – uh, good luck with that then.

All around Bentley Wharf footbridge, suburbia gives way to countryside; there may well be a nature reserve of some sort here. By now it was 7.15pm and on a normal day we’d have moored here without hesitation, for the dogs if nothing else.

A little way past the footbridge the noise of the traffic suddenly intruded and there was the M6, running next to the canal before marching over our heads at the next bridge.

The whole of the Curley Wyrely has been a revelation so far – it really is a great canal. But there was more to come at Sneyd Junction Bridge. It’s a sharp right turn at the junction and I caught a glimpse of some residential moorings beyond the bridge. Unfortunately I fluffed the turn but my excuse was that I had a tyre wrapped round the prop J Not a big one, probably from a mountain bike or similar but I’ve never know the prop stop faster. From previous accounts, it’s not the BCN Challenge unless you pick up a tyre; I think that should be worth a few bonus points!

We got through the bridge to find a very friendly community of boaters. The working pair, Malus and Atlas, together with their ‘towing’ buddy had stopped here for supper. One of the residents kindly let us brest up to her boat, so we took advantage and got rid of the two binfuls of weed at the rubbish point, ate our supper and chatted (they’re very doggie people here – average dog-population of 3 per boat!).

We moved on, with some reluctance, at 8.10pm with a few more hours ahead of us. Though we did move on optimistically, with the hope that if the rest of the Wyrley and Essington were as good then we’d be in for a fine night’s cruise.

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