Monday, 4 July 2011

Crew at last!…

After a relaxing day doing not a lot of anything yesterday, we set out before 8am this morning for our rendezvous with Russ at The Draw Bridge.  Wast Hill Tunnel, at 2726 yards, took 28 minutes to complete, as opposed to the hour that the notice board states!  Exiting the Northern portal, the urban sprawl of Birmingham soon becomes apparent, the rubbish in the water, and the graffiti are the biggest clues!  Kings Norton Junction with the Stratford Canal came next, and no sooner had we turned onto the Stratford, and negotiated the former guillotine stop lock at Bridge 1, there was a clunk from the prop, and an old oil can floated up from behind – we had encountered our first ‘Birmingham bomb’ – 2 oil cans with a length of rope tied between them.  The cans float and the rope sinks to catch the unwary, and it did!  Some ‘weed hatch minutes’ later, Rog managed to untangle the rope from the prop shaft.  A lady walking her dogs stopped to see if we were ok, she was carrying 2 carrier bags full of rubbish.  Apparently she has been picking up rubbish from the towpath for twenty years.  She was most apologetic, and said that she could only reach the rubbish on the towpath!  Bless her, she seemed so embarrassed – as if it were her fault!!  She warned us about a brown leather sofa which was floating a few hundred yards further on.  We managed to avoid that hazard.  We continued on, accompanied by frequent clunks and bangs from the prop, which spent more time out of gear than in, and reached The Draw Bridge about half an hour before Russ was due to arrive, which was as well because Rog had go down the weed hatch again when we got there – more rope!  Russ duly collected, we set off again, through the electric lift bridge, and on to Dickens Heath, where there is a new ‘Designer village’.  It was being built last time we came this way, almost four years ago.  It was a ghost town then, and is still a ghost town!  There is evidence of shops opened and already gone out of business, a few businesses still going, and a Tesco Express which is probably the most useful of all.  Russ and I took a wander around and it’s just empty – we saw a few people wandering about and one or to on the balconies of the apartments but not much else.

SDC10884The Junction House at Norton Junction

SDC10885Kings Norton Junction

SDC10887Former guillotine stop lock – graffiti decorated of course!

SDC10889Weed hatch moment

SDC10890The result

SDC10891Anyone want a brown leather sofa?

SDC10893Russ stopping the traffic

DSC_8700Dickens Heath Designer Village water feature – courtesy of Russ, the real photographer in the family!

9.2 miles and 0 locks

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