After two rather miserable days of driving rain and wind it was almost a pleasure to wake up and find a dry and overcast day. We moved the short distance down to the junction, reversing back onto the services to dispose of the rubbish and top up the water tank. It was last filled eight days ago and the gauge was bouncing round ¾ full. The water pressure was OK but it still took quite some time to fill. Whilst we were on the services mooring a CRT Hopper and Tug came out of the Ocker Hill Arm and headed towards the Ryders Green Flight. They were obviously going to be ahead which meant all the locks would be against us.
Once the tank was full we set off for the bottom lock (Lock 8) on tick-over. That seemed a safe option given all the rubbish in the water. The plan was to moor in the pound between locks 8 & 7. There were no issues at Lock 8 but we couldn’t get Waiouru against the edge to moor in the pound. Too many submerged shopping trolleys from the nearby Asda supermarket (the reason we wanted to moor).
We could see the CRT boats ahead at Lock 7. They were having to bow haul the hopper into each lock and then work the tug up. Jan walked forward to work Waiouru up through Lock 7 whilst the CRT crew were leaving for Lock 6. She mentioned the problem we had in the pound and was informed they had a very difficult time with the hopper. The crew were rather frustrated about the condition of the pound as they had only cleaned it out in May.
We stopped for an hour on the Lock 7 mooring bollards making four trips to Asda for supplies and also having lunch. Neither of us particularly like stopping on lock moorings but with no where else to stop and no other boats on the flight we thought it would be OK.
The rest of the flight didn’t present any problems. So the problem hot spot is the pound between locks 7 and 8. Asda need to think of additional measures to secure their shopping trolleys.
Jan likes these locks. A single gate at each end meant there was no need to scramble over the wet gates.
There is a large area of vacant land adjacent to Lock 2. I don’t recall it being here when we last came this way so we assume the buildings have been demolished as part of a redevelopment project.
It was a reasonably quick trip up the flight. There was a boat moored on the off-side above the lock.
Behind it is Ryders Green Junction with the start of the Wednesbury Old Canal to the left. This led to a maze of industrial canals which have now all long gone.
The plan was to moor at Bumble Hole so we turned right at Pudding Green Junction (don’t you love some of the names) onto the New Mainline and cruised down to the Netherton Tunnel Branch where we turned left.
The tunnel is almost 3km long and before reaching the eastern portal you pass under Trividale Aqueduct which carries the Old Mainline.
Jan prefers the Old Mainline as it has more ‘character’.
Netherton Tunnel is high and wide with a towpath on each side. After the recent rain it was also rather wet inside.
The tunnel was the last to be built during the ‘canal age’ and by then engineering had reached a level where they could build long straight tunnels. We could see light at the far end but by the time we reached the western portal the light was fading fast.
There were two vacant moorings at Bumble Hole. We took one and then five minutes later a boat appeared from the opposite direction to take the last mooring.