I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Sunday 25 June 2023

June 2023 - Up the 21 locks of the Wolverhampton Flight

Slade Heath Railway Bridge No 72 (Staffs & Worcs) – Wednesday 21st June

Time to get time to get moving.  We were both awake early so got up and got going by 9.30am. As we pulled out of our berth I saw a mummy duck and her two ducklings.  We've been at the boat for three days but haven't seen them before, even when I was throwing bread out of the side hatch for all the hungry ducks in the Marina. 

Our first lock was Offerton. Just before the lock is a small bridge which we have been over many times over the last few days as it leads to the marina.

Rodbaston lock was next where CR&T were busy replacing the lock landing. 

Gailey lock was next which has the big round building overlooking the lock.  The building used to be a toll clerk’s office but is now a canal shop.  It was built in the 18th century and is Grade II listed. 

This photo is the end of the Hatherton branch. You can just about see the lock but there is nothing beyond that.  The branch was closed a couple of years after the last load of Cannock coal came off it in 1949. 

By this stage it was hot, and we wanted somewhere to moor under a tree. We found a nice shady area, moored up and then the sun went in. Typical. We had a quiet morning psyching ourselves up for the 21 locks we have to do tomorrow.

6.3 miles
5 locks

Wolverhampton Top Lock Moorings (Staffs & Worcs/Birmingham Mainline) – Thursday 22nd June

Today we were off to join our fellow Explorers for the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Explorer Cruise.

We had arranged to meet Steve and Diane on Clarence around 11.15am at Aldersley Junction (the bottom of the Wolverhampton Flight).  In fact, they came out of the Shropshire Union canal just in front of us.  It was then 10 minutes to bottom of the Wolverhampton Flight. 

Going into the bottom lock I found no leaking gates, which I was surprised about as I thought the flight would be in poor state and rough. But in fact, we found 99% of the gates in excellent repair. We were surrounded by trees for the first few locks then slowly it became a little bit more built up but away from the canal a bit, it really was still very pleasant. Muffin had a whale of a time rushing from one side of the lock to the other searching and sniffing everywhere. He disappeared at one point and Richard found him rolling on a dead rat!! 

We passed a couple of boats coming down but otherwise it was Mary H, Clarence and Free – All Right Now. The strange part was that all the locks were empty but suddenly we would come across a full one. Why that was we have no idea. 

I thought it was all going too smoothly.  As I approached lock 3, I lost power but managed to limp into the lock where Richard tied me up, filled the lock, then went down the weed hatch and came out with handfuls of weed. We were greeted at the lock by Eric, one of our organisers.  As I left the lock, I suddenly realised that I was still tied on. It was embarrassing as Eric was standing there and we don’t usually make silly mistakes!!  We were both to blame really as we had forgotten that the boat was tied on!  Eric said it reminded  him of Tim West and Prue Scales who did the same thing on TV!! In fact I couldn’t get out of the lock any way as the pound was very low. Eric had started to let water down, so the pound was beginning to fill, but when I went to move out of the lock I still didn’t have any propulsion, so Richard was down the weed hatch once more. Eventually I managed to get into lock 2 but it took Clarence quite a while to get from 3 to 2 she draws three feet (we only draw 18 inches). Richard went down the weed hatch again at the top lock. I pulled over and waited for Richard to help Clarence up through the top lock. We then followed Clarence under the road bridge to a mooring for about 3 boats which was fine as Georgina, Eric and Debs boat, was already moored there.

By the time we had moored up I really felt exhausted, and my back was really hurting. My back is so much better than it was last time we were out but gets tired and starts to ache. I bought myself a back brace which seems to help even though the pain is in my lower back, the brace makes me stand properly which relieves the tension on the lower back. I am going to try and use it when we are going through locks and I am steering.   I think Eric and Deb realised that the crews from the three boats were tired, so they arranged for us all to go to the Great Western pub. We had a couple of drinks in the garden, I say that as Muffin just lay there and fell asleep, which is most unlike him as he would normally be looking around. He must have been exhausted  The crews of Mary H and Clarence decided to get some fish and chips which we brought back to the boats and ate on the tow path. 

It was an early night for all of us.

5.6 miles
21 locks

Wolverhampton Top Lock Moorings (Staffs & Worcs/Birmingham Mainline) – Friday 23rd June

I didn’t sleep well, it was probably the fish and chips late last night   I dragged myself out of bed at …  (I’m not going to tell you what time it was!!)  Richard was going with the other men to help today’s boats up through the locks.  I sat and caught up with the blog and watched Incognito and Mugwump arrive from the other direction.  Jem and Ivy were already in the basin above the locks yesterday. 

Richard and Muffin went back to the 21 locks with the other men to help today’s happy campers up the flight.  All went well except that one boat didn’t make the flight as their prop shaft gave up the ghost.  We will be 11 boats and 21 boaters in total. 

I broke a tooth on Monday, only a small break but as I have Denplan I thought it was worth trying to get an emergency appointment while we had a day off in Wolverhampton.  My appointment was in Wednesfield which is about a 10 minute drive from where we were moored.  I called a taxi which was very prompt, and drove to the dentist.  I was seen by a very nice lady dentist who put a temporary filling in which, hopefully, will hold until we get home.  As I lay back in the chair she had pictures of the ceiling which I thought was a nice touch. 

My return taxi took me to the nearest Sainsburys local store, yes, I did ask him to take me there, he didn’t just randomly take me there!!  I really only wanted milk but managed to spend £28! 

Back at the boat Richard and Muffin had returned and looked exhausted, in fact later on they were both fast asleep! 

In the evening we all met up and went to the Great Western Pub again, but this time we had food which had been prebooked.  The food took ages to come and, I think, everyone had finished before the last two people were served.  We went back to Mary H along with Steve and Diane and sat out on the towpath again until about 10pm.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you made it up the Wolverhampton! I recognised a lot of your pics.