Sunday, 18 August 2013

A day of tunnels

(Boat Chalice - posted by Cath)

A lot of tunnels today - Gosty Hill, Netherton and Coseley.

Well, we enjoyed our brief stay at Combeswood, but we had to get back out of Hawne Basin, so we headed back in the direction of Gosty Hill Tunnel. Here are some more pictures, mostly taken by David, to give a further idea of what it was like. The entrance at the Hawne Basin end is low, but not as low as the section towards the other end.

Entering the tunnel
Into the tunnel - looking back
Alan steered again - very slowly - David and I stood on duty at the front, ready to push off the walls if the corners of the cabin got too close to the sides.

in the lowest part of the tunnel - steerer's view forward
Drastic change of height - Alan crouching to steer

As we approached the junction after the tunnel we were hailed from another boat. They'd seen Alan's photos of the inside of the tunnel on Facebook the previous evening, and wanted to know our air draught - did we think they'd fit through the tunnel?

Access to information was so much harder in the past, wasn't it?

Entering Netherton
If I'm not needed on 'tunnel duties' I like to practice my melodeon in tunnels. I'm hoping to start a meme that the tunnel boggarts play accordion. We entered Netherton tunnel following a hire boat. Despite Netherton being wide and with towpaths on both sides the hire boat went very very slowly. I realised quite how slowly when my music practice was interrupted by the steerer coming inside for a comfort break.

Alan steering as we enter Netherton - before he takes a break

Alan was a bit fed up with going at a crawl, so decided to pull a rather unorthodox manoeuvre to get ahead of the hire boat once we were out of the tunnel.

The hire boat reaches the toll island ahead of us

But leaves after us

360 degree panorama - end of the Netherton Tunnel Branch
 David's panorama is 360 degrees - the bridge on each side is the same bridge.

We turned left at the end of the branch, and stopped briefly for a supermarket. Soon after we saw heavily laden coal boats approaching. We soon realised they were the same ones we'd seen on the Staffs and Worcs canal a few days ago.

Southern Cross

 We went up Factory locks then headed towards the Wolverhampton 21, but turned off on the Wyrley and Essington canal.

Mirror over the canal
At one point I could see something stretched across the canal ahead of us, but couldn't work out what it was.  Eventually I realised that it was a mirror. What had confused me was the reflected water and bricks. I just managed to just get a shot showing the end of our boat as it passed below.

You can just see Alan steering on the left

In the remaining stub of the former Bentley Canal - mooring for the craft shop

When I'm not steering, cooking, or playing the melodeon I like to sit at the back of the boat chatting to Alan if he's steering. I quite often crochet while we are talking. Yesterday I dropped my only size 5 crochet hook in the canal - so I checked on the Internet to see if I could find a yarn shop to replace it. I was delighted to find that there was a Hobbycraft shop only a mile ahead of us, right on the canal side - and, it being Sunday - it was open for another hour.

As we pulled in we were hailed by Laurence Hogg, who we know from Canal World Discussion Forum, who gave Alan advice about where we should moor in the evening - not very far from where we were.

I bought two number 5 crochet hooks - just in case, then we went and bought Odin a harness at the big pet store. He wasn't happy about it, but at 30 kilos he's not easy to pull out of the canal if he falls in, so he doesn't have a choice.

We moored at Lane End, Small Heath, on a short secure mooring, between two pubs - neither of which did suitable food for us - but one did a very well priced bottle of house wine.

Hawne Basin to Lane Head, Wyrley & Essington Canal
Miles: 16.5 (Chalice), Locks: 3
Total Miles: 276.1, Locks: 135

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