On Saturday morning we set out from the mooring on the Old Main Line at Tipton, surprisingly fresh after our evening in The Fountain. We were heading for Ocker Hill at the start of the Tame Valley Canal.
Ellie and I walked the couple of miles to the first set of locks – Brades Locks on the Gower Branch which includes the BCN’s only staircase.
One by one, the boats arrived to make the descent.
Leaving the Gower branch, we turned briefly onto the New Main Line, then onto the Wednesbury Old Canal at Pudding Junction, on to Ryders Green Junction and down the 8 Ryders Green Locks. The flight was manned for us by several BCN Society lock wheelers. This is Charlie, the BCNS Chairman. His wife, I discovered, went to the same school as me in Belfast and was in the year below me. Small world.
Our mooring at Ocker Hill had a rural feel and very peaceful it was too (at least it was when the local youths stopped speeding up and down on their motor cycles!)
The next day we set out along the Tame Valley canal heading for Longwood Boat Club. As with most of the BCN, there’s a fair bit of rubbish to negotiate but, so far, we’ve been lucky and haven’t needed to visit the weed hatch between stops.
This stretch of canal is incredibly straight and has aqueducts over spaghetti junction….
…and the River Tame.
We joined the Rushall Canal at Rushall Junction and headed up the 9 locks (again ably assisted by helpful lock wheelers and our Ellie).
There was a brief holdup while we waited for a blockage to be sorted out in one of the locks above (apparently it was a bin lid that had been caught between a boat and the side of the lock). Time for a chat with Steve and Cheryl on the beautiful nb The Lady Hannah.
Our welcome at Longwood Boat Club was spectacular. One by one the boats were shepherded through the last lock, given mugs of tea, and shown into moorings. Sheila Bowen made some amazing cakes and we were welcomed like royalty.
It was a beautiful day and, on advice from Chris and Penny we took a walk down the canal and through some lovely woodland – to walk off some of those cakes!
The day was rounded off with a Chinese Meal, delivered to the Club House.
Gordon, assisted by Penny and Alison, gained himself a fair few brownie points by heading into the kitchen to do the washing up in time for us all to enjoy Phil Clayton’s presentation Joeys Joshers and James A Birmingham Canal Miscellany. It was a wonderful illustrated talk punctuated with original songs and it was enjoyed immensely by everyone there.