Monday, September 05, 2016

Skirting Birmingham

On Wednesday, we moved on to the Rushall Junction, and turned left onto the Tame Valley Canal.
Through housing and industrial sites, the canal was still very shallow, and at one point Kantara was tipped violently to the left as we rolled over a mudbank in the centre of the channel.

This once had a toll booth on it, to collect passage fees from boaters
Brick pillars, built to support the huge rocks of the cliff along the bank
Perry Vale Locks, now - 13 of them. At the top lock, we cleared a mass of water weed that Kantara had picked up on her propeller on the approach.

At the next lock, I repeated the procedure. It was very frustrating for Grace. Weed like that on the prop doesn't just slow the engine, but it makes steering nigh on impossible. We had nine locks still to do. We took the pragmatic approach, which actually turned out to be the easiest one, too. We bow-hauled the boat. Pulled her by rope from lock to lock.

The biggest problem then was the huge mass of weed in the locks themselves. On one occasion, I simply couldn't haul Kantara out of the bottom of the lock because there were thick wads of the stuff jammed between the boat's hull and the lock walls. From that time onwards, Grace used the engine judiciously, just enough to get her past the obstacles, and moving out of the lock. When there's nowhere to go except in a straight line, the fact that she couldn't steer was irrelevant. Once out of the lock, the engine was put back into neutral, and we hauled. And hauled, and hauled!

After the ninth lock, we moored and ate a much-needed lunch. And I untangled more weed. We stopped in the next lock while I removed yet more weed, and an angler's catch basket, the wire frame of which was very well wrapped around the prop. Below that lock, however, the weed disappeared, and we continued as normal. We met no boats all of this time. There were three behind us, all of them struggling because of the weed, but all of them dealing with it by stopping and unwrapping it from their props.

This wasn't Spaghetti Junction, I don't think, but some time later, we passed under an amazing criss-cross of Birmingham motorway and other roads. (John on NB Samsara comments below, telling me that this is in fact Spaghetti Junction.) A mysterious underworld of shadow and huge concrete structures. Not many people get to see this. It's very impressive! 

Salford Junction
And before we left this weird world, there was Salford Junction, the confluence of the Grand Union and the Aston Canals, both of which take a route down through Birmingham, and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, which we followed.

We stopped for the night at Minworth, uncomfortably close to the A38, but just fine for rest and recovery!


  1. Hi. Playing catch up on the blog :-) That WAS Spaghetti Junction! Last time I went down through Rushall Locks the water levels were so low I got stuck between locks, which being solo is very difficult to get out off on your own unless you decide to get very wet! I called CRT on my mobile and they came to the rescue in about 45 minutes! Sorry to read of all your engine troubles. Cheers, John, nb Samsara on the L&L Canal

    1. Thanks, John! Yes, you're right. I've looked it up on Google maps, and it all pans out. On a holiday back in 2004, we went under a similar set of structures on our way into Birmingham, and I thought THAT one was Spaghetti Junction. The thing is, that one had a lock, and the latest one hadn't. I wonder where the first one was!

      Hard luck on Rushall. I can imagine that happens to lots of boats. Well done CRT, though!

      Enjoy your trip. :-D