It’s foggy, it’s damp, it’s Wednesday… it must be Birmingham

From Plough Bridge No 83 to Symphony Court Footbridge, a distance of 22 miles, 5¼ flg and 38 locks.

It had been decided in the pub, over beer, last night that we should make an early start to try to get to a sensible stopping place in Birmingham so it was pretty early when we cast off and it was misty and damp and all a bit depressing which seemed only appropriate in some ways.

We made steady progress and Hopwas School Bridge soon came up. I’m sure there was a good reason for it when it was built but the canal through Hopwas seems to take great delight in being almost continuous bends but luckily we didn’t meet anyone on any of them. By the time we approached Fazeley Junction the weather was starting to improve a little and you could catch the odd occasional glimpse of the sun through the cloud and mist and as we headed towards. Curdworth Bottom Lock No 38 the weather rapidly improved and it was actually pleasantly warm working up the locks.

I don’t think any of the canal routes into Birmingham could be described as pretty and the run through Minworth is pretty depressing. The now derelict Cincinnati works at Cincinatti Bridge is just one of many derelict sites alongside the canal. I can remember when it was still open and the now overgrown bank between the works and the canal used to be nicely landscaped.

The original plan had been to go up the Birmingham Canal Navigations (Tame Valley Canal) but it didn’t work well timing wise so we carried on up the Birmingham Canal Navigations (Birmingham and Fazeley Canal) and come out right in the centre of Birmingham so our last member of crew could join us without having to find his way to another train station and catch a second train.

Birmingham seems to have an odd duality when it comes to the canal – there were plenty of cyclists using the towpath as we climbed up through the locks to Aston Junction but the whole place is daubed with graffiti and that whole “we have a canal lets use it” and “we have a canal, its rubbish so lets vandalise it and use it to dump rubbish in” seems to pervade so much of Birmingham’s canal network.

We made excellent time up Farmers Bridge taking 1 hour and 5 to do the whole flight. The towpath was very busy with people heading home from work and the traffic on Saturday Bridge hardly seemed to be moving at all. The moorings at Cambrian Wharf were full as were all of the moorings on the Main Line so we slipped across into the Oozle Street Loop and moored up on some moorings which were reserved, like so many others, for a canal market on Saturday. The notices told us to try to moor in Gas Street Basin but that was completely in the wrong direction and there were no guarantees of a mooring there. By the time we left the boat to go and have supper, and some beer, the rest of the moorings were still empty and they were still empty when we returned from the pub at the end of the evening.

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