About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Stuck again!!! ( this is getting monotonous )

 I think they should rename the BCN Challenge, the Challenging BCN!!!

 Leaving our lovely moorings in the Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch ( very secure although we had to put up with some traffic noise ) our next destination was to reach Sneyd Junction on the Wyrley and Essington ( Curly Wurley ) We stayed on the Walsall Canal, passing the Tame Valley Canal on our right, and both of us were looking forward to a pleasant days cruise when suddenly it all went horribly wrong again. From Ocker Hill to M6 Road Bridge must be the worse stretch of water on the whole of the BCN. We first came a cropper  just past the Gospel Oak branch when Ian tried to clear the prop by putting the boat in reverse. Instead he picked up more then we started with.  This lot is the result!

 Once cleared, off we set again. It wasn't long, though, before the tiller wobble started. This time Ian decided that reaching a bridge 'ole would be a better idea before trying to engage reverse gear. At least we would be able to get off in case anything happened. He must be psychic because no sooner had we got the stern in the bridge ole when we came to a grinding halt. Ian tried reverse and the whole boat bounced!! Then we lost drive again. What on earth could have caused this to happen. Ian lifted the weed hatch cover, looked long and hard and groaned out loud. There, stuck fast on the propeller, was a tyre!!

Trying to shift the thing with our boat hook.

Managed to move it away from the prop but it was still held by something.
Ian went away to fetch his trusty thick rubber gloves and with a bit of manipulation managed to free the tyre. Only trouble was it dropped back down under the boat and as  Ian made a grab for it, it sunk to the depths never to be seen again. Unless, off coarse, its picked up by another boaters prop! So my apologies if you happen to be that boat.
The bridge 'ole ( Bull Lane Bridge )
The Walsall became weedy and was full of water lilies. It also resembled a council tip. I couldn't begin to list the amount of debris floating above and below water. I did count half a dozen road cones, 3 wheelie bins,10 shopping trollies, two 10 gallon drums, one beer barrel ( should have picked it up to see if it was full!) as well as numerous mattresses, sofas and chairs enough to start your own furniture store!! The plastic and clothes under the water, were by far the worse though, as these seemed to be attracted to our boat.

Chair seat floating away from us. You can see what I mean about the water lilies

A boat width was all we had. I'm glad we didn't meet another boat!

Burnt out boat. Another bit of 'debris' on the Walsall Canal

And yet another stop to clear the prop!!!
Sailing past the Walsall Arm leading to the basin, ( we didnt bother to make an excursion down the arm, ) we came to Walsall locks. There we met the only boat we have seen on the move for two days. It happened to be a canaltime on the way back to Alvechurch. All these locks need a handcuff key before they can be operatred and although the crew on the canaltime had to open them, they failed to lock them again. Its a good job we met them on the second lock otherwise who knows what sort of mischief the local ' little darlings' would have done once they found them unlocked. Emptied every pound no doubt.  I do think these locks are the prettiest on the BCN I have seen so far, though.

Last of the weed in the pound.

We stopped at the top lock, (on the lock landing because we were convinced no other boat would turn up ) and had lunch. The locals came out in droves amazed that a boat was here at all. Not many boaters make it up the Walsall Canal and I think it will be quite a while before we attempt it again. Then no sooner had we sat down to consume our sandwich when Ian heard the paddle gear being operated on the top lock. So, the sandwich had to wait and we made a hasty getaway before we could be shouted at!! The last bit of the Walsall was trouble free and, not long after leaving the lock, the junction appeared and we made the left turn onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal

The Walsall is on the right
Finally we got to Sneyd Junction and pulled onto the facilities moorings. We couldn't see where the secure moorings were as stated by Brenda Ward, but a chap sitting by his boat on the long term moorings told Ian that there hasn't been public moorings in this neck of the woods for quite a while, but he did point to an area across the junction that was inaccesable to the public and told us to moor there. So that is exactly  what we have done, and very nice it is to. Tomorrow we head for the Black Country Museum, turning left onto the Wolverhampton line and than back onto the Birmingham main line again. Then its back up the Wolverhampton to do the Wolverhampton 21 before heading toward the Staffs and Worcester. Does anyone know of secure moorings on the Wolverhampton line?

Sneyd Junction. Facilities to the right and the towpath on the left.

Our moorings for tonight.


Adam said...

If you're going to the Black Country Museum, you won't be going down onto the Birmingham level -- it's on the Wolverhampton level. Good moorings there, but if the ones behind the gate are full it's OK outside. We've spent a couple of nights out there without problems.

At Wolverhampton, there are some very secure moorings on the offside -- so secure that you can't get off. As you approach, they're on the left hand side just before the Broad St services arm. There are also moorings above the lock, but they're open to the public.

When we did some of the backwaters, we had someone standing on the bow pointing out the worst of the rubbish so the steerer could avoid it. We also coasted through bridge holes, as that's where the rubbish tends to collect.

Jo (Boatwoman) said...

Oh the rubbish I remember it well from when we did do the BCN Challenge. In one day we collected enough rubbish to fill five dustbin liners arghhhhh. It is a challenge and a half. xx

Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Hi Adam,

Good job someones on the ball!!! Ian told me I was wrong. Should have listened to him!!! Anyway, thanks for your tips and we will certainly look out for the moorings you have suggested.

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