There we were, cruising gently along the Oozels Street Loop when, out of nowhere (OK, the sky), SPLAT!
My camera, lying screen down on the slide, was suddenly covered with the unmistakeable disgusting white and yellow slime of seagull poo. The camera is a compact type, where the lens retracts and two metal semicircles close over it. The dropping was fully over this. Aargh! I called down to Jan, who was just emerging from the shower, for some paper towel. I managed to wipe away most of the revolting stuff but, when I switched on the camera and the lens extended, there was more of the goo on the telescopic bit. I have no photo, for obvious reasons. (Although I suppose I could have got Jan to take one with her phone camera, but I had other things on my mind.)
The camera seems to work still. I need a new one anyway, but it would be inconvenient to be without one for long.
The main objective for today was the Titford Canal, which leaves the Birmingham Old Main Line at Oldbury Junction. First, though, as I hadn't done them for a while, we cruised all the loops: Oozels Street, Icknield Port and Soho, including the Hockley Port arm with both "fingers". We also did the Engine Arm.
After turning left onto the Titford Canal we naughtily tied up for lunch on the lock landing. Having seen only one moving boat up to that point, and given that we were on a little-used dead-end canal, we reckoned we'd be fairly safe. And, of course, we were.
After lunch I got my bike out and started investigating the state of the locks. The first pound looked a little low; the next pound was decidedly empty. We were going to have to let water down from the top. Just as I started preparing the first lock and subsequent pound a local beer can-clutching young man with his girlfriend approached and offered to help if I lent him a windlass. I was a bit wary at first, but Martin said he knew what he was doing as he'd had many boating holidays as a child, and his brother had a 70' boat on the Severn. He struck me as being genuine, so I got a windlass from the boat for him. Full of enthusiasm he went up and started running water down, exactly what was required. His girlfriend helped with opening and closing gates, and we worked slowly up the flight.
As we neared the top he shouted to me that he needed a key for the top lock. I took the "water conservation key" out of my pocket and gave it to him. A minute later he was suddenly at my side apologising profusely. He'd managed to drop it in the lock. I said it didn't matter as I had another one, but he was devastated. While I was getting another one from the boat - the one I tie with string to my belt - Martin was calling out to one of the moorers in the Tat Bank Branch what he'd done, and asking him if he had a magnet. The moorer got his Sea Searcher and fished out the key with his first dip. Martin was very relieved, but still apologetic.
With all this going on I neglected to take any photos of our ascent of the locks, so here is my first photo on the Titford Canal. This is, I believe, what remains of Holt's Brewery.
About 3/4 mile from the top of the locks the canal forks. We tried the left fork first, the Causeway Green Branch, but it started to feel a bit shallow so we reversed back and went up the right fork.
This seemed better, but we couldn't get through a narrow bridge hole under the M5 owing to an underwater obstruction.
|approaching narrows under M5|
Just before this, to the left, was an entrance to Titford Pools itself (themselves? There seems to be only one pool.) Gingerly, we crept into the wide expanse of water. The M5 runs on stilts on the right.
Again, it had that shallow feeling, and so we reversed back the way we came after not much more than a couple of boat lengths in. Talking to Phil, the moorer mentioned above, I learnt that it is possible to cruise into the pool, but that it is safer to do it in the company of other boats who can rescue you if you get stuck.
A large amount of demolition has taken place around here. This is just west of the half-demolished brewery.
A few minutes later we had got back to the Titford Pump House where the Tat Bank Branch goes off to the right. Not much of this is now navigable; there is a long floating pontoon with long term moorings.
Phil said we could tie up to this pontoon in the space left by a boat which wouldn't be back until Saturday, so this is our salubrious mooring for the night!
The moorings are secure, accessible via gates locked with a BW key, and sort of peaceful. There's a constant low rumble from the works nearby, but it won't disturb our sleep.
When we went for a walk this evening we saw that the pound below the top lock was drained. We could also see that a few paddles were up. It transpired that a local oik had raised every paddle all the way down the flight. Phil and another were already on the case, about to lower the paddles and refill the pounds ready for us in the morning. We said that we could do it ourselves when the time came, but they didn't think that the vandal would come back the same day. We'll see.
|drained pound revealing mound of rubbish ...|
|... and a safe|