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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.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Big Brother C&RT. They know everything!

Left at a reasonable time for once, to head out of Birmingham. By heck more changes made since we were here last. As soon as we came under Sheepcoat Street Bridge. we noticed the newly refurbished Fiddler and Bone public house as well as Sherborne administration offices. Seems that this is now  the services moorings. Very handy as one no longer has to use the facilities by Farmers bridge or at Holiday Wharf by the Mailbox bridge 88. So what there is for us boaters,.
  • Canal side diesel fill up point.
  • Canal side pump out point and cassette toilet emptying facility.
  • Coal.
  • Calor gas.
  • Chandlery for boaters needs and gifts.
  • Self service laundry.
  • Showers and toilets

The diesel pump is behind the A frame sign.
Part of the visitor moorings have been removed for the new Waterbus stop.

Although we didn't have a look I'm guessing this block is toilets and showers
  The stretch along the Main line was long and tedious and the smells that filled ones nostrils were appalling. Burning tyres, plastics and metals made for a very unpleasant couple of miles. Good time was made though, as most of the journey to Pudding Green junction was straight and had decent depth. More than I can say for the Wednesbury Old Canal and Walsall Canal. Shallow, dirty and full of rubbish was the only way to describe it.

Right to Wednesbury Old Canal which leads into the Walsall Canal.
Soon we came upon the top of the Ryders Green Junction and locks. Now here is a tale to tell, as back in 2012 we decided to take a right turn and head up the Ridgeacre branch just so we could say we had done it. To say we got well and truly stuck is an understatement but if you would like to read what happened click here.

The Ridgeacre canal to the right. Ryder Green locks L
 All the locks needed filling which of course took time, although my contrbution was to close the top gate behind me and lift a paddle while Ian walked on to set the next lock. Worked well until lock 6 when only one paddle could be raised due to some vandal having jammed the anti vandal lock!
Met a couple of boats near the bottom which helped immensely with our passage but what didn't help was the amount of shopping trolleys we rolled over and the lack of water! 

Looking down the flight with Ian walking to set the next lock

Bit worried about this pair. Looked very suspicious especially with that pony. They did acknowledge my greeting so maybe I was wrong to think bad of them.
Once down the flight it was only another half mile to Ocker Hill. In the past we had always been able to moor in the Ocker Hill Tunnel Arm. One visitor space only available but reading the signs on the entrance it said for residence only. A phone call to C&RT confirmed it was still a visitor mooring. With it being the safest spot to stop we reversed back and stopped just after lunch. Did find out one thing from C&RT. It seems that the boat numbers are clocked more then we thought. She asked if we were continues cruisers because, as she put it, 'you have certainly been seen far and wide'. Then she said she would send us a continues cruiser form to fill in. Most indignantly Ian told her we had a mooring. Turns out that as C&RT hadn't seen us at Langley Mill over the winter since 2013, ( we put this down as our mooring) they assumed we no longer had one. When Ian mention The Great Northern Basin was a secure basin without access to C&RT's men, she became most apologetic. Anyway this just goes to show that there is nowhere to hide from Big Brother C&RT, they watch us continually!

Entrance to Ocker Hill Tunnel Branch. The one visitor mooring is the space on the left just beyond the bridge.

Moored by the now disused BW offices. Facilities are still available through the gate. BW key needed. This is the junction of Tame Valley and Walsall canal. We will turn right onto the Tame Valley tomorrow on our way to Longwood boat rally

No longer used by BW. Windows smashed and boarded. Says something for the area! Thats why the Ocker Hill Branch is a Godsend for safety.

There is no way onto the towpath from here so if you wanted to go out...forget it.

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