After yesterday’s lock marathon (some people run 26 mile, I operate 25 locks) I was looking forward to an easier day. The Birmingham Level Main Line is wide and flat. It was built by Telford to straighten out the old Brindley designed canal. It’s typical Telford, deep wide cuttings, straight lines and monumental bridges. At the end just three deep locks connect it to the Wolverhampton Level.
Just before the end I noticed that weed was building up on the edges and corners. And then I picked some up on the prop. To make matters worse it was a mix of weed and plastic bag but I got it off and made the first lock. A granny and grandson were watching and the lad was pleased to ‘help’ open and close the gate while granny videoed him. Coming out of the lock the wind blew us sideways and I could tell from the steering we had a weed problem again.
This time we ended up in a sort of layby at the side of the pound. They were built to give boats room to pass going up and down, and to increase the amount of water in the pound available to fill the lock below. In those days they were dredged. Now it isn’t I was stuck 5m from the bank on mud with something on the prop.
The something turned out to be a piece of rope and more weed. That was bad enough, but worse still we couldn’t get off the mud. Eventually with a lot of poling, and it’s hard to pole in mud there’s nothing to push against, I got Seren facing the opposite bank and she managed to drag herself free.
Lock two was OK, but we picked up weed and some kind of stretchy fabric leaving lock three.
This time I had no power at all and hence no steering so we drifted sideways across the cut while I got the weed off. Three more times I managed to get to the bank and moor while de-weeding and at one point I bow-hauled Seren through a patch of weed which was easier than trying to get through, failing and having to get down the weed hatch again. At the moment I like Wolverhampton about as much as the Nene. And there are 21 locks in the Wolverhapton Flight for tomorrow.