When we got up the rest of the reserved moorings were still empty so we didn’t feel guilty at all. A slow chug through Oozel Street Loop brought us back out onto the New Main Line and we made extremely good progress as the canal is nice and wide and deep, well apart from the Toll Office islands which seem to be pretty silted up and although you are really right in the heart of Birmingham the canal seems almost rural in places. The towpaths were once again busy with joggers and cyclists and people walking to work but there seemed to be no other boats on the move and it wasn’t until we reached the far end of Netherton Tunnel that we saw another moving boat. After 2.7Km of perfectly straight tunnel the meandering course of the canal comes as a welcome relief.
The canal at Merry Hill has changed so much and there are useful moorings if you need to get provisions as you can walk down to a Sainsbury’s.. Delph Top Lock No 1 soon follows and we made quick progress down the locks which are a pretty impressively engineered flight Of course if you’re doing The Delph locks then you really have to stop at the bottom and take a walk up the hill (keeping the locks on your left hand side) to visit the Vine (aka The Bull and Bladder) which does very good beer and very silly sandwiches both at reasonable prices.
Some more meandering canal leads you to Stourbridge Top Lock No 1 and the start of a flight of 16 locks down to Wordsley Junction. The large Stewart Crystal glass factory is long gone now and the old Cone furnace by Glasshouse Bridge (Wordesley) is the only sign, apart from the derelict factory, of the industry that was the reason for the canal being here in the first place.as the iron works which was also alongside the canal has vanished without a trace.
Turning onto the Stourbridge Branch takes you back onto a winding little canal which is relatively deep and teeming with fish. It’s not long before the temrinal warehouse comes into view and although its possible to wind a full length boat there the number of moored boats would make it a little difficult. You used to be able to moor near the end of the canal but its now so totally full of permanent moorings that you can’t – its so bad that people actually moor on the water point to go into town. We headed back to the bridge and moored up so we could walk into Amblecote and explore some of the pubs there.