Wednesday, 1 August 2012

An early start and twenty four locks.

Talk about early starts, we were on our way at 0520 this morning. This is a subject that Jill and I do not agree on, I love the early morning when you have the world to yourself whereas Jill regards 0800 as still the middle of the night. As we had a lot of locks ahead of us I got the decision today.

At precisely 0600 we started the Stourbridge flight, sixteen locks loomed above us. These are not friendly locks, the bottom gates have no handrails, on the top gates you have to wriggle across the gate itself between a very low hand rail and the paddle gear of the gate paddles and the bottom gates have a habit of swinging open as soon as you have closed them. I was not a fan.

The gate paddles were a bit fierce, please note nice new bow fender, courtesy of Mal Edwards at The Anchor.
Little remains of the industry that originally lined the canal but between locks 13 and 12 you pass the Red House Glass Cone.

It was originally used in the production of glass but is now a museum of the glass industry. It was a bit early for a visit so we passed it by.

This is looking back with Dadfords Shed. a late 19th C. warehouse, left centre, in front of the cone.
It gets quite interesting here with a little side arm going off to the right,

The Lock, formerly a general store supplying the working boaters and a pair of locks that seem to have got a touch of The Bratch.

As you can see the top gate of the lower lock is only feet away from the bottom gate of the higher lock but like The Bratch a culvert carries the water from the higher lock away into a side pond

which fills the lower lock when required.

0900, three hours and sixteen locks, I was sooo pleased to lean on this sign.  Just beyond the top lock

the Fens Branch carries on straight ahead but we stuck to the main line which swings off to the right. We now had a couple of miles of  pleasant urban canal before the Stourbridge Canal ended and Dudley No. 1 Canal started at

the bottom of Delph Locks, known as The Nine although there are only eight of them and the pub at the bottom is called The Tenth Lock, you didn't expect the canals to be logical did you?

The cascade of the by-washes was most impressive and the locks were a lot more user friendly, they even had such luxuries as hand rails. We were up the Delph in an hour flat and eventually moored at Merry Hill at 1100. We lunched in Pizza Express, we felt we had earned it.

View over the shopping centre from the moorings.
For anyone planning on coming this way, what were once the secure visitors moorings are now all long term moorings, the basin by the hotels is lined with boats that appear to be glued to the wall and the side arm between locks one and two of The Delph which I have seen recommended on some boaters forums

is no longer usable, a tad weedy. So the only available moorings are on the towpath above the retail park. I'll let you know how we fare.

Watch this space.............

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