Monday, 2 August 2010

Back to Birmingham

Fifty eight locks and four tunnels. That's what awaited us on the run back from Worcester to Birmingham on the eponymous canal. A challenge for boaters and pretty impressive tribute to the determination of the men who forged a canal up through the hills to link the two cities over two hundred years go. Not the least part of the challenge is the mighty Tardebigge flight which climbs through 30 locks in a smidge over two miles. That's for tomorrow: tonight we're sitting looking at the bottom lock of the flight with a slight sense of dread!
The Worcester & Birmingham is a complete contrast to the canal which brought us down from the Midlands. The Staffs & Worcs was wide, deep and bold, running almost river-like between sandstone cliffs or through heavily tree lined stretches. The W&B, on the other hand, climbs through rolling, open farmland, rarely touching a village. It charts a narrow, secretive path, often barely a boat's width between thick clumps of reeds. From 50 yards away you wouldn't know it was there. In places it feels more like a quiet canal arm than a main artery.
Yesterday we wound out of Worcester in the familiar way a canal leaves its urban roots - climbing through less salubrious industrial and residential districts before waving goodbye to the city at the canalside football stadium. After that it was all country, though the relentless background drone of M5 motorway traffic was almost ever-present.
Last night we moored at the quaintly named hamlet of Oddingley; tonight we're opposite the Queens Head - a large and somewhat flashy pub that contrives to charge city prices for its beer despite its rural situation.

No comments: