Monday, 10 February 2014

Wyrley Bank Canal.


Well,we are still on the Wyrely & Essington Canal,or the Curly Wyrely as it is more commonly known,but this week we are at Sneyd Junction on the Wyrley Branch Canal,which was the original W&E mainline when it opened in 1798.This canal had a checkered life,being built to serve the local collieries,of which there were many,before finally being abandoned in 1955.One of my ambitions has been to walk the length of this abandoned canal to see what remains of it,if anything.

We eventually moved away from our mooring near Pelsall Junction on Friday.It was a lovely place to be but our water tank was beginning to get a bit low so we decided to head over to here to use the services and spend a few days exploring this area.Sneyd Junction is not a bad place to moor,a bit noisy with the constant hum of traffic on the nearby M6 motorway,but you don’t notice it after a while.I don’t think we would leave our boats unattended though.The Police came round on Friday afternoon and advised us against leaving our boats but,apart from a few dog walkers and fishermen.there hasn’t been many people about.Perhaps the weather has played a part in that because it has been a bit wet.

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Birchills Junction,turn left here to go down to Walsall.The two of us filling our water tanks at the services here at Sneyd junction.

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Moored at the junction,we’re facing the way we came with the abandoned Wyrley Bank Branch behind us.The bottom lock of Five on the branch,all have gone,with only a few bits to indicate where they were.This one has been filled in with a culvert to allow the water down.

On Tuesday I walked to the very end of the Cannock Extension Canal,as it is today,to have a look at what’s left.You do get to see a lot more when you’re walking than you do on the boat,even at a steady canal speed of 2 mph,though there wasn’t much to see really.As it turned out,the end was only a few yards beyond where we had winded on Sunday when we went up by boat.Today Andy and I walked to the end of this branch to see what remains,and though it’s possible to follow the old towpath all the way to Wyrley Bank,there are only some stretches still in water.The Locks are all gone,as are the old arms and basins that served the collieries,and some stretches are dry.It’s a good walk though and there are information boards along the route explaining what used to be.

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The end of the Cannock Extension Canal,not a lot too see,and one of the arms of Grove Basin which served the Wyrley Grove Colliery.

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Wharf Cottage on the Wyrley Branch Canal,there was a short wharf here serving one of the coal mines,possibly Essington Farm colliery which was close bye.The cottage is still lived in.Just a part of the branch still in water, a lot of it has been lost through opencast mining.

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Snowdrops,these were the first I’d seen,as always,after these there were hundreds.All that remains of a Lift Bridge and Footbridge that crossed the canal.Strangely they were separate bridges side by side.

Most of the rest of the time,since last Monday,we have spent dodging showers or heavier spells of rain.There has been a lot of rain,but fortunately,we’ve not had it anywhere near as bad as some.We are on a canal boat and canals are not often effected by flooding,there are exceptions of course,and there are the canalised sections of rivers that do flood,but we are pretty safe.We had a visit from some of our family on Saturday and they brought the mail out with them,not much of any importance I’m happy to say.For lunch we had a takeaway from the local Fish and Chip shop and it was very good.Should you ever stay here at Sneyd,I would recommend George’s Fish Bar on Cresswell Crescent,there is also a convenience store and a greengrocers on the same parade.Cresswell Crescent is just a short walk from here towards Bloxwich.

Well that’s all again for this week.Since our last blog we have cruised through no locks and only 7 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 582 Locks and 1012 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

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