Monday, 24 February 2014

Daw End Branch.


Since our last blog,a couple of weeks ago,we have been going over old territory so I really didn’t have a lot to put in a blog,sorry Heather and Steve.We’ve been back to Brownhills and to Longwood Junction again,as well as stopping at a couple of out of the way places in between.We are now moored again where we were  back in the middle of January,close to the Manor arms on the Daw End Branch.If you remember,we stopped here on the only day they don’t do food in the evening,i.e. Wednesday.This time there would be no surprises,we got here yesterday and went for lunch,they do a nice roast dinner with three choices and together with a pint or two of Cocker Hoop we had a very nice meal thankyou.

Lord Hayes Branch 002 Lord Hayes Branch 006

Before and after last Tuesday.It snowed at Sneyd and it was a lovely sunny afternoon when we got to Fishley.

We left Sneyd Junction on the Tuesday after our last blog,it snowed in the morning but by the time we left at lunchtime the snow had all gone and it was a lovely sunny day.As we approached Fishley Junction on the W&E,which was where Lord Hayes Branch used to be,we decided to call it a day and moor up.The weather forecast for the following day was not at all good and here looked as good a place as any to weather the expected storm.On Thursday we set off again and made our way back to the visitor moorings at Brownhills where we were in for a bit of a surprise.When we’d left Brownhills,at the beginning of February,we’d been the only boats moored there and on our travels we had only seen four other boats,three of which were heading the opposite way.Four boats is quite a lot at this time of year and we had only seen two others since New Years Eve.Anyway,when we got to Brownhills there were five boats already there and one more turned up on Friday,quite a flotilla had gathered.

We stayed at Brownhills until the Sunday,replenishing our supplies and making use of our bus passes.One of the things I have wanted to do since we last visited Birmingham,is to try the Chinese Buffet on New Street,so on Saturday,off we went on the bus and I got my wish.I have often been intrigued by the sign advertising all you can eat for £5 so,as we like the odd Chinese meal,down the stairs we went to give this one a try.It turned out to be just what it said on the sign,though you do have to like chicken,it was the only meat on the menu.

Daw End Branch 2 005 Daw End Branch 2 006

Land & Water working hard dredging the Daw End Canal.When we went up five weeks ago it was shallow in places,it’s not like that now.

Daw End Branch 2 001 Daw End Branch 019

There we are on Daw End Visitor Moorings and Lisa doing a stitch in time on the machine we bought at Beeston on the Shroppie.

Our first stop from Brownhills was Daw End visitor moorings on the Daw End Canal near Aldridge.Aston Manor Transport Museum is about a miles walk from the moorings and we had decided to take a look,it’s only open Saturday,Sunday and Tuesday so here was our chance.It’s only a small museum but its run by a band of dedicated volunteers who restore,as well as maintain,their fleet of buses and trucks and also have a number of running days.We spent a few very enjoyable hours there and the volunteers are more than happy to talk about their exhibits.On Monday we left there and made our way the three miles back to Longwood moorings above the top lock on the Rushall Branch.The last time we were here was five weeks ago and this time I wanted to give Chyandour a good clean if the weather was kind to us,which it was.I also wanted to take the opportunity to change the gearbox ATF now that she has done over a thousand hours.

Daw End Branch 002 Daw End Branch 004

A different sort of sign to promote your business,this one as we walked to the Transport Museum.One of the exhibits,a Trent Motor Traction BMMO S.O.N. in use from 1940 to 1954 with one of the local firms when I lived near Nottingham.I don’t think I ever travelled on one of these,I was only six when she was taken out of service.

Daw End Branch 005 Daw End Branch 014

Me having a sit in the drivers seat.I’ve let my PSV entitlement go now so it’s unlikely I’ll ever sit in the drivers seat again,certainly not professionally anyway.Another vehicle I once had the pleasure of driving,one like this while delivering milk around the mean streets of Derby

Friday and Saturday we went off on the local buses to visit a few nearby places,Friday to Wednesbury where there’s a B&Q and an Ikea,and Saturday,after walking into Aldridge,we went to Sutton Coldfield.Now Sutton Coldfield is a place I remember from my truck driving days,not for the town centre,which I had never seen,just the surrounding roads.There was no A38 to bypass it in those days and we were in the habit of taking a shortcut to the M5 motorway on one of the local roads.On night the residents of one particular road parked their cars,alternately,to protest at the use of their road as a through route for trucks.It was all a bit chaotic and I believe they all got fined a fiver for their trouble,which they could all well afford,but they achieved their aim and got a weight limit imposed on the road.Anyway,I have no hard feelings and Sutton Coldfield turned out to be a place worth visiting.Aldridge too is worth a look,we had a browse around and then went into the Avion for lunch.The Avion is a Wetherspoons pub that was as a cinema from 1938 till 1967,became a bingo hall till 2009,and is now a nice pub.We left Longwood yesterday and made our way here where we intend to stay for a couple of days,maybe get another pint of Cocker Hoop,who knows.

That’s all again for this week folks,I’ll try harder next week.In the last two weeks we have travelled 15 miles and done no locks again,Lisa’s really getting it easy.That gives us a Grand Total of 582 Locks and 1027 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.



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.

Sneyd Junction 2 006 Sneyd Junction 2 010

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.

Sneyd Junction 2 015 Sneyd Junction 2 014

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.

  Sneyd Junction 002Cannock ext 1 004

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.

Sneyd Junction 003  Sneyd Junction 004

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.

Sneyd Junction 012  Sneyd Junction 014

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.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Cannock Extension Canal


This week we are moored just off the Wyrley & Essington,on the Cannock Extension Canal,a couple of hundred yards or so before Pelsall Junction.The Cannock Extension was a bit over five and a half miles long when it opened in 1863 but now there is just under a couple of miles left.The very reason for it’s existence,the coal mines,were the cause of it’s demise.Breaches and mining subsidence resulted in the top two thirds being abandoned in 1963,and later Opencast Mining obliterated the Northern bit almost completely.We went as far as we could along the canal yesterday afternoon before we winded at Norton Canes Boatbuilders and now we’re staying here for a few days.

Cannock ext 1 015  Cannock ext 1 021

Pelsall Junction where the Cannock Extension,lower left,leaves the W&E.The two of us moored short of the Stop House and the stop,that’s the house and narrow bit before Friar Bridge in the distance.

Cannock ext 1 007  Cannock ext 1 010

Almost the end of the Extension,Norton Canes Boatbuilders has a paint shed just beyond the boat shell on the left,it’s possible to “wind” in the entrance to the paint shed,just !!!! A view along the Extension,dead straight.

We left Anglesey Basin last Tuesday morning and had a gentle cruise,for an hour,back to Brownhills Visitor moorings where we intended to stay a day or three to top up with water and groceries.On Thursday Lisa and I decided to go and take a look at the Aqueduct that has been erected over the M6 Toll for the proposed restoration of what will be the Lichfield Canal.We had studied the maps and Google Earth and discovered that it was possible to get close enough for a picture or two so off we went.It started to snow just after we set off but,hardy souls that we are,we didn’t let that stop us and we were rewarded by some good pictures.Sadly though,there is hardly any trace of what was the Wryley & Essington between Ogley Junction and the aqueduct.Just the tree line to indicate where it used to be.

Anglesey Branch 002  Anglesey Branch 004

Snow as we walked along the Anglesey Branch to Ogley Junction,it didn’t bother the swans.Our first view of the Lichfield Canal Aqueduct over the M6 Toll.

Anglesey Branch 005  Anglesey Branch 008

What would it be like to be approaching the aqueduct when it’s full of water? Another view of it.

Friday was one of those days that we seem to be having a lot of lately,it was very wet and windy,so,a lazy day in front of the fire was the answer to that.On Saturday out came the Bus Passes and off to Cannock we went for a bit of retail therapy somewhere different.We thought Cannock was a nice place,clean and tidy with a good selection of shops in the town centre.For lunch we had two meals for less than £7 in the local ‘Spoons,so all in all not a bad day out.

The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust are currently working to restore some of the Cannock Extension Canal but on a different route from the original,so today I thought I would have a look at where they propose to connect to the W&E.It’s less than a mile,from here at from Pelsall Junction,to the Lord Hayes Branch and there are little bits of that canal still visible though not in water. 

Pelsall Junction 001  Pelsall Junction 003

The entrance to Lord Hayes Branch at Fishley Junction.This branch was just under a mile long with no locks and gave access to Lord Hayes coal mines.A short stretch of the dry canal bed that was abandoned in 1954.

That’s all again for this week I’m afraid.Since last week we have cruised for 8 Miles and Lisa has had no locks to work,so we now have a Grand Total of 582 Locks and 1005 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Please take care everyone.