Litter Strewn BCN (D4 continued)

On the 16th March we were cruising through Birmingham, my previous post described our trip along the Tame Valley Canal, and now the diary continues. The cruise along the Tame Valley was very straight forward, and at the junction we turned south towards Pudding Green Junction. Last July we had taken the TVC route and turned north at this junction up to Walsall itself and it had been slow going due to a lot of vegetation growth making the canal shallow, this time I was hoping the southern section was more used – indeed it was and we soon reached Ryder’s Green Locks. There are several decent mooring spots around Birmingham and my “plan” was really to see what time I got to Puddling Lane junction and choose then. On reaching the first lock we found some rubbish inside, not to be unexpected as there is a fairly strong wind so the odd bit will be blown in. I must have snagged on something in the lock as the boat handling felt strange as I went into the pound above. I did try shaking it off with a few blasts in reverse, but it wasn’t helping and as the entrance to the next lock was in a bridge hole it was fairly easy to stop there and clear the weed hatch out. It turned out to be a fair bit of plastic, fishing line, and assorted rubbish. Once cleared we carried on, opened up the lock gate to be welcomed by a blanket of discarded cans and general litter. Its almost as if someone tipped a bin liner full in! I guess its a case of proceeding with caution then. The pound above the second lock was fairly low, as its a short pound could easily be done by someone letting water out “for a laugh” or maybe just a leaky lock below? We went fairly quickly through the rest of this flight of eight locks using the leapfrog locking method of one going ahead to set the next lock whilst another operates the lock we’re in, as there was no other traffic about, exiting the top lock at 16:25.
Above the locks the canal junctions onto the Wednesbury Old Canal, and although I did contemplate going up the Ridgeacre branch we carried on to Pudding Green Junction and onto the Main Line (Birmingham Level). Rather than go all the way into the city centre I thought I’d head on up to the Wolverhampton Level as there’s mooring spots there. So at Bromfield Junction we went up the three Spon Lane locks. The entrance to the first had a carpet of rubbish, oh joy was this the litter trap for the Birmingham Level Main Line? It was a scene repeated at all three locks though, maybe they haven’t been used much recently? We left the top lock onto the Wolverhampton Level at 17:30 and decided to head for the Engine Branch moorings. I think some of that rubbish at the locks had become attached, so we just took our time. The Branch isn’t that far away and we reached the top of Smethwick Locks just after 6pm. There is secure mooring spot here, but its secure as in no-access to the surrounding area, but I wasn’t sure if there was accessible mooring at the end of Engine Branch (after all Ocker Hill is supposed to have secure visitor mooring), so we moored whilst I took a walk up the branch. I found there was long term mooring with a footpath gate accessible with a BWB key, so I quickly went back to get the boat as it was starting to get dark. We went up the branch and past all the long-term moored boats to find visitor moorings at the end. Very nice they are too with a “Sanitary station” with washing machines and showers.

As usual here’s a nice video version:

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