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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, 26 November 2021

You wouldn't want to fall in here!

 November 25th

That's two mornings on the trot now with lack of sleep. Was the road this noisy the last time we were at the Black country Museum? We can't remember, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2018. Anyway 4 am and car horns sounding, sirens from the emergency services every so often (why do they need to put them on at that silly hour? Surly not enough traffic to worry about!) and blooming motorbikes being a nuisance by making as much noise as possible. Tea was being drunk by 5 pm and breakfast well before 7. So we decided to get away early. To reach Pelsall it was a 17-mile cruise and most along the Curly Wyrley. For those that have no idea why this waterway is called that (the proper name is Wyrley and Essington) it is because of of its twisting course. 

What a shock to the system! Blimey it was cold and even with several layers worn over the thermals that cold breeze got to places it shouldn't have! We took it in turns to steer, it was imperative to get warm again every so often otherwise there would be no pleasure in the cruise. It was lovely with the sun out though, which surprisingly did have some warmth to it because when it touched the back of the legs, we sure did feel the benefit. 

Took roughly 90 minutes to do the 5 miles to the junction. Plenty of water under FS's hull so zoomed along on the Wolverhampton Level but oh the difference as we turned into the Curley Wyrley at Horseley Fields.

Onto the Curly Wyrley

And looking back

 Weed was a slight problem, that blanket weed which had started to die off kept wrapping itself around the prop. Ian braved the cold to plunge his hand down the weed hatch. We had no idea what caused the tiller wobble and I suppose thanked our lucky stars it was only the weed.

 Then those bridges...nearly all had to be coasted through because of debris under the water. Obviously its easier throwing ones unwanted goods in the canal than taking to a tip!  At one of the bridges the bow was picked up and flung to the left. Ian was steering and even with the tiller hard over couldn't stop her from ending up in the offside trees. 

We would have reported the underwater obstruction but not a name or number on the bridge.

 Oh, and it was also very shallow, slowing our pace considerably as we scraped bottom at regular intervals. So we never did reach Pelsall. In fact, we stopped for lunch at a 'so called' safe mooring by Lane Head Bridge. A BW key can get you out of a locked gate, but t'was not secure at all because at the other end the gate had been broken so could be accessed by any man and his dog.

 Moorings are almost non-existent. For some reason we thought we could get to Sneyd Junction and moor by the facilities. But where were the visitor moorings, and would we really want to stop here?  The state of this section after the junction, it was horrible...green with weed, loads of rubbish floating in it and looked disgusting.

  We did stop at the facilities and Ian went in search for someone to point us in the right direction. CRT happen to have offices here and luckily for us, one of the men was at the desk. He pointed to a piled edge on the offside. It's their workboats mooring but when the boats are out, anyone can stay for an overnight mooring. Such a relief because both of us were cold and the thought of a further 6 miles of travel filled us with horror. If those 6 miles were the same as the rest of the Curly then mooring towpath side would be impossible. With the canal crystal clear we could see how silted up it was.

  And look at this Robin. Must think this is grass,

Between the bank and FS.

 The weather looks horrendous for the next couple of days. I do hope we get a 2-hour window where we can get to Pelsall first thing. If not I may have to flatter my eyelashes at that CRT guy and ask nicely to stay for another day. 

And seen on route,


M5 at a standstill. Nice to think we are travelling faster than them!

There was no way to avoid this Willow. Much too shallow on the sides to move over.

And wildlife,

Dabchick/little Grebe

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