Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2016 – Day 55 – Wolverhampton
Posted by indigodream on 1 April, 2017
Rewind to Thursday 25th August
Dudley Canal Centre to Autherley Junction
After the shennanigans overnight, we weren’t off to a great start – although there was little chance of recovering Richard’s bike, we reported it to the police, which took a bit of time. We also reported it to some local “quick cash” outlets, who were surprisingly helpful; but there we ran into a problem – although we knew the make and size of the bike, we couldn’t find any photos or a record of any serial numbers – all essential if you want to track a stolen item being offered for sale. We reluctantly accepted that the bike was probably gone forever and started the search for a new one.
Well, that was a revelation – it is impossible to just buy a bike! Every single bike shop in the area seemed to need a minimum of 24 hours to assemble a bike; some needed a whole week! Now I was starting to understand why you might steal one – if you need a bike in a hurry it’s the only way! We now also had to accept that we’d have to work our way down the Wolverhampton 21 without a bike.
The only advantage to being awake for most of the night was that we were up early (or late, depending on your perspective) and were able to set off around 9am. The weather was overcast but dry, giving us good conditions for inspecting the moorings round the corner, under the CCTV cameras, and for regretting not moving last night – ah well, now we know.
We had a good cruise to the top of the Wolverhampton 21 – the canal has an interesting mix of development and dereliction, and then there’s the welcome incongruity of Coseley’s richly wooded cutting – fascinating…..
Interestingly, there are some short -term moorings at the top of the Wolverhampton flight – I wonder whether you’d dare moor there – the area has a fearsome reputation.
As we started down the flight, we came across many boats coming up – this meant that the locks were set our way, which was a great advantage on a dreary day, especially when we were sorely missing the bike for lock-wheeling.
As we got to Lock 5, it started to rain; by lock 6 it was torrential; by lock 7 it was a deluge; then it rained on a biblical scale for the rest of the flight. We gritted our teeth – although it was very tempting to stop and sit it out for a few hours, most of the pounds are short and water levels erratic so we pressed on – we simply had to get to the bottom of the flight.
Luckily, the hounds needed little persuasion to stay dry and warm inside, which was a shame as there is good rummaging potential on the flight – especially towards the bottom. Sadly, by the time I reached my favourite stretch between locks 17 and 21, I was so wet and cold that I couldn’t enjoy it. Conditions were so miserable we didn’t stop for lunch – I had a feeling that if I went indoors and peeled off my waterproofs I would not motivate myself to put them back on again. We snacked our way soggily down the flight, and by the end I found myself rushing just out of the sheer desperation to moor up for the day.
When we got to the bottom of the flight, we had a debate about whether to moor at the junction, we’ve moored quietly there before, or whether to press on to Autherley Junction. In the end, we moored up just shy of Autherley Junction on a stretch of mooring rings with convenient access to the nearby road bridge. Although it had felt like an immensely long day we actually moored up at 3.30pm. We peeled off our waterproofs, had lunch, and that settled it for me – no way was I going out in that rain again!
With that decided, we relaxed for a bit while Richard continued his search for a bike. Sod’s law dictated that by 4pm the rain cleared and fragments of washed and faded blue sky started to emerge. Richard set off first to a local bike shop then by bus to Wolverhampton to find a bike, while I had an amble with the hounds and relaxed. Bike shopping was quite hard, Richard bought nothing but came back to the boat to have a think about the logistics of a plan B, his knee was playing up badly so a bike just had to be bought!
I don’t have notes for what we did in the evening – I’m sure we ate on board because I couldn’t be naffed to go out, and I recall that Richard ordered a bike via the internet from Halfords that would be ready for him to collect the following evening – hurrah!