Friday, 25 July 2014

The clear waters of Wolverhampton

Day 10 of our Big Summer Cruise of 2014. Here are some stats for the five hours of cruising we did today:

Locks: three.
Trips down weed hatch: two.
Moving boats seen: two. No - three, there was one on an aqueduct overhead.
Barbecues had: one.

We made a leisurely start from Gas Street at 1015 and were soon out of the central Birmingham area on the wide and deep Birmingham Canal (new main line). We saw there was a boat in front of us, and were catching it up over a distance of two miles, until just past Bromford junction he waved us past. It was a curious place for the overtake as it was quite bendy and there were trees overhanging on the right. As I opened the throttle and moved to the left I was aware that the canal was quite shallow near the bank. This had the effect of giving me minimal speed advantage over the boat we were overtaking (Jura Reve). I got there in the end, just feet before a bridge hole.

Before this excitement we had the bonus of seeing a boat pass overhead on the Old Main Line or Wolverhampton Level on Stewart (or is it Steward or Steward's) Aqueduct.

Here's a graffito for Adam.

It was another hot day, and the grass cutters were doing their thing on the north towpath. Except they weren't, they had abandoned their strimmers and were taking a break in the shade of a tree.

It's great that the towpath vegetation is being cut back, especially on the lesser-used northern one, but it's a pity so much of it lands in the water. Shortly after passing through all the floating grass cuttings we stopped on the Ryland Aqueduct where I removed a quantity of freshly cut stalks from the prop.

Perhaps I should have waited until we'd cleared Factory Locks.

After the three locks progress was again slow. I couldn't be sure whether it was the relative narrowness and possible shallowness of the Wolverhampton Level we'd joined, or something else round the prop.

We got through Coseley Tunnel and then stopped. A visit down the weed hatch produced a large thick plastic bag from the prop. I'm always surprised by how well the boat copes with so much rubbish round the prop.

Immediately after Deepfields Footbridge is a large pipe bridge. These youngsters found the challenge of beating the anti-climb spikes too much to resist.

Nothing of great significance happened until we tied up in Wolverhampton just above the top lock. (Nothing of great significance happened then, either.)

We walked into town to look round. It was our first time there, despite having passed on the canal at least twice before. I continued my search for a supplier of large O-rings for a project on the boat and, again, drew a blank. Where are all the hardware/ironmonger's shops? There's an excellent one in Norwich (Thorn's) but that's no good to me here.

When we got back we had a towpath barbecue, then pushed the boat across to the other side to be slightly "safer" from night-time revellers. The police and ambulance sirens are slightly closer, but the trains are slightly further away. Not that you'd notice. There's a curve just to the north of the station, right opposite us. The train wheels squeal as they negotiate this curve, and the track sounds like (proper) jointed rails (not the continuous welded stuff which doesn't sound right!) I can feel the vibrations in the boat. I don't suppose all this noise will keep us awake, though. If it wakes us early in the morning we'll make a reasonably early start down the locks to beat the heat. (This summer weather is fantastic, isn't it? Long may it last!)

Oh - the clear waters of the title: here in Wulfrun* the canal bed is very weedy. This seems to filter out the sediment from the water, with the result that you can see the bottom, and loads of fish.

After we had moved across to the 24 hour mooring the other side I noticed a floating island of rubbish. This was gradually moving to our original mooring, so I went round and fished out the bottles, cans and expanded polystyrene, put them in a discarded carrier bag, and deposited it all in a bin.

Maffi would be proud of me.

*Wulfrun is apparently the old name for Wolverhampton. A case of the modern name being an embellishment of the original rather than a contraction?


Adam said...

Good old GNS! (Although the bit of GNS we're responsible for is now called the Rip and Read)

Sarah said...

Actually, Wulfrun was only part of the original, old English name. I can't type the rest but it means something like Wulfran's High Farm. It amazed me to discover that it dates back at least to the 11th centory.

Halfie said...

Thanks Sarah. We saw what was claimed to be the oldest thing in Wolverhampton: the column which is all that is left of a cross from the 9th century.