Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Short ride to Longwood

A shortish cruise today from Anglesey basin to Longwood Junction, about 3 hours altogether. No locks again today, but tomorrow will make up for that!
At Anglesey there is this shute/slope/?. We weren't sure if it was from days of loading boats or for channelling water from Chasewater Reservoir as a feeder for the canal. Perhaps someone will be able to tell us.

A little way along the canal were some more obvious loading shutes or remains of.

The journey along the Daw End Branch takes you along some high embankments, past factory sites, sports grounds and huge clay pits still being worked. They really were very deep.
It has been a lovely bright sunny day, and after getting here to Longwood we caught a bus into Walsall, to look around there and most importantly to post 2 advent calendars off to Bradford and Oxford!

7 miles

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Aiming for Anglesey

As we left Sneyd this morning it didn't feel too cold, though it was quite blowy and cloudy.

Maybe the wind would keep those black clouds away.
As we made our way along the Curley Wyrley (Wyrley & Essington) we passed

boarded and fenced off sites,

demolition sites,
open common sites,
and farmland too.  Also housing estates and modern industrial units.
At Pelsall Common we turned onto the Cannock Extension Canal to Wyrley Common. At one time it connected to the Staffs and Worc Canal.
A very straight section of waterway, at the end are 2 canal basins and private moorings.  This was the site of the Brownhills Colliery.  A very helpful man came out of his workshop and helped us to wind Tacet in the narrow space between 3 abreast boats.

The sun was out making the colours stand out.
So now we had cruised another arm of the BCN and we arrived back at Pelsall Junction,

The narrow passage back onto the Curley Wyrley. I guess the hose was a toll house once.
The common opposite was once the site of an iron works.

On our way to Catshill Junction we stopped at Tesco to stock up, plenty of room to moor here.
Then it was on to Anglesey Basin where we intended to moor for the night. It started to rain this afternoon, but not too much.
At Freeth Bridge we got stuck by something in the water, not sure what, but with a bit of  reversing and heaving on the ropes, we got moving again.
However just on the approach to the basin at the end of this branch the canal was blocked and a small sign said Canal Closed.  So we moored up just there and went to investsigate.  The basin has been closed off whilst work is carried out between the canal end and the reservoir, it looks like, and maybe something to be done to the bank edges round the basin.
So no other boats, but it is very quiet and feels quite safe.
The sunset this evening was lovely.

Tacet at the end of the rainbow

Todays Autumn picture

13 miles, 0 locks

Monday 28 November 2011

On the way to Sneyd

We left Dudley and the Black Country Museum at 8.30 this morning after using the services there.  We were heading up through Wolverhampton to the Wyrley and Essington canal and To Sneyd Junction.
Early on we met this fellow,

watching us carefully as we passed him by.
We didn't take the most direct route, at Deepfields Junction we turned onto the Wednesbury Oak Loop.
Deepfields Junction

At first it seemed we had made a mistake as there was so much weed under the bridges we had a job doing the turn.  However this did improve, and although progress was a bit slow, we kept going ok.
Towards the end the water was very rusty coloured,
it looked quite good as we stirred it up.
We had to turn around at the BW workshops at the end of the navigation.

Bradley works

There were quite a few new lock gates ready in the yard.
Tonight we are moored at Sneyd Junction along with some residential boaters. It is quiet here with just the hum of traffic in the distance.
It has been a very quiet day, no other boats moving, and only a few fishermen. No trouble from bandits either!
Just seen the forecast for next few days, oh dear, waterproofs and thermals on then.
13 miles, 1 tunnel

Sunday 27 November 2011

Living in a Museum

With our penchant for period furniture, gas lighting, tilley lamps and following the lives of boating families from the past, our children always thought we were not of this century. So staying in the museum site suits us fine.  We have had a lovely day wandering through the streets of the reconstructed villages set mostly in Victorian times with some areas older and some 1930's.
The weather has been fine and sunny, although a bit cold. Many houses and buildings had coal fires burning so there is the smell of coal all around. Not as choking as it would have been in the days of all the mining and industry here I guess.
the village pub

the Methodist Church

the canalside cottages with nail makers workshop at the end

one side of the back to back houses

joey boats alongside the lime kilns

overlooking the boat builders and ironworks

Ian up against the strong arm of the law!

he was let off with a caution

the sweet shop and bakers were tempting

the 1930's street with motorcycle shop, radio shop and plumbers

mens outfitters, fish and chip restaurant

1930's cast iron houses

gas street lighting

We loved the authentic shops, streets, shopkeepers etc. Just a few things out of place, the black bin liner! and the electric light bulbs strung across the Victorian street (I think for Christmas).  The black kitchen ranges were so lovely, I want one! ('til it needs cleaning I suppose).
looking towards Dudley tunnel

We have had a great day here.
gas lamp again
We especially love the gas lighting both indoors and out.  This one is right by our mooring.

Saturday 26 November 2011

A taste of the BCN

We 're just discovering the BCN, Birmingham Canal Navigations, of which there is over 100 miles.  Famously more waterways than Venice.
The canals transported coal from the many collieries in the midlands, hence the name Black Country for this area. Then of course it became a centre of industry too, so the canals were profitable, busy and much extended  from their beginnings in  the1760's until their demise 1950's.  The end of the coal trade came in 1967.
We left the security of Hawne Basin, Halesowen (once a canal/railway interchange) this morning about 11am. We had filled up with water, got a new gas bottle and stocked up with 7 bags of coal.  We're ready now for a cold snap! 
We passed again through Gosty tunnel which is narrow with varying heights, following the cut through the area of old steel works and collieries,
some of them open spaces

old basin
 some of them now housing or industrial estates.
At Windmill End junction we turned off to Netherton Tunnel, a wide, high and extremely straight tunnel with towpath each side. 

tunnel approach

the light at the end of the tunnel

 Just outside the tunnel is the remains of Cobbs Engine house and chimney. 
The engine inside was used to pump water from the local mines to prevent flooding.

At the other end of the tunnel we passed under the Tividale aqueduct,

past some lovely restored canal cottages to the Birmingham level main line.
Turning right and right again we struggled along the Gower branch which had low levels of water between locks and took a bit of work to let enough water down to get through.
Netherton tunnel from the aqueduct

the rooftops of the Tividale cottages from the aqueduct
Now we were on the higher Woverhampton level and we soon made it through to Dudley where we have moored in the safety of the Black Country Museum.
6 miles, 3 locks, 2 tunnels

Friday 25 November 2011

In all kinds of weather

There were a lot of locks ahead of us today, so it was a reasonably early start.  Ian had to return his hire car first, so he trundled off at 8am and we were ready to let ourselves out of Stourbridge basin at 8.45am.
It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining brightly as we made our way back along the town arm to Wordsley Junction and the Stourbridge 16 (locks).
lovely autumn colours and reflections again

Redhouse Glassworks

about halfway up the first flight of 16 locks

Fens branch

At the top the Stourbridge locks, before turning to Brierley Hill, we went along the Fens branch (because you can) and its on the map, it was again pretty and we saw a kingfisher, but couldn't snap it. We also couldn't turn around at the very end so had to reverse back then carried
on to Delph locks.
bottom of Delph locks

looking back down the locks

As we approached Delph the weather suddenly changed, it clouded over, the wind turned chilly and it started to rain.
Nevertheless we carried on, not sure which areas are safe round here.
At Blowers Green junction we decided not to go up the 3 locks to Dudley tunnel as it was still quite wet and cold, but we did walk up......
the approach to the tunnel

tunnel entrance

The Dudley tunnel can be navigated by arrrangement with the Dudley Canals Trust. No engines are allowed so you have to leg it or be towed by electric tug. Headroom is just 1.89metres.  We shall go through to the Birmingham Main Line via Netherton tunnel.
We got to Hawne Basin at 4.45pm so it was quite dark, but we were helped to a free mooring space for the night.
11 miles, 25 locks, 1 tunnel