It was time to leave Birmingham but not before two blogger meetings. We’ve spoken to or seen five bloggers since arriving in Birmingham. Our mooring was behind Beryl and Dave on NB Sokai. Maffi and Molly on NB Milly M moored in front of us. Then Andrew Denny moored NB Granny Buttons opposite. Finally, there was a knock on the side hatch one evening. We opened them to discover Paul Balmer of NB Waterway Routes.
We decided to backtrack and head north on the New Main Line. We’ve cruised this way a number of times but there is always something interesting to see. This time we were paying attention to all the entrances to former canal arms or wharfs. This canal reeks of history.
The Engine Arm crosses above the New Main Line on a particularly ornate aqueduct. A lattice of five cast-iron arches supports a cast-iron trough.
Designed by Thomas Telford, the aqueduct was built in 1825 as a water feeder from Edgbaston Reservoir. You might recalI I mentioned in an earlier post that there was a feeder from Titford Pools to Edgbaston Reservoir.
Telford’s work can also be seen at Galton Bridge. The design is very similar to the Engine Arm Aqueduct. Except this bridge is much higher and longer. It was constructed in 1829 and at the time was the highest bridge in the world. It carried road traffic but is now restricted to pedestrians.
Steward Aqueduct takes the Old Main Line over the New Main Line. Immediately behind it the more modern M5 Motorway also crosses the canal.
We turned left onto the Netherton Branch at Dudley Port Junction and entered the 2776m long Netherton Tunnel. No cloud inside this time, but it was very cold. Three lights could be seen in the distance coming towards us. Jan sensibly went inside (why should two of us get cold). My eyes started to weep with the cold blurring my vision. The lights at the opposite end of the tunnel slowly got closer. I couldn’t decide whether they were boats or bicycles. Eventually I slowed and moved over to the right to allow the oncoming boat passage. That’s when the first of the bikes passed.
Having realised the lights were from cyclists I was able to speed up. Eventually we exited the tunnel at the Bumble Hole end to find a damp and overcast day.