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In his first blog of the year, Trustee John Dodwell, shares his experience of cruising in the west midlands towards a weekend gathering of historical tugs.
Last Thursday saw me back on HELEN for the first time this year, after the winter works which an old boat seems always to need. She was built in 1942. My son Richard joined me for the Bank Holiday weekend, taking a break from rebuilding his own (quite younger boat).
Leaving the mooring above the four Stourton Locks in mid afternoon, we ascended the Stourbridge 16 locks. Fortunately, all the locks were in our favour and we reached the top of the flight in about 2 hours.
We went straight on at the junction onto the Fens Branch - good deep water- and turned into the stub end of the Stourbridge Extension Canal. There are some good moorings (with rings) here in quiet surroundings - see the main photo above. Well worth using - and good Internet connection too.
Friday saw us going towards the Delph Eight (or Nine, if you know your history). This section has lots of waterbirds - lots of nesting coots, moorhens and even some very young ducklings and Canada goslings, to add to the heron we saw yesterday. Also lots of young green leaves around - yet still enough signs of industry to remind us of this area's heritage.
We were fortunate that the Delph Locks were in our favour, albeit the weather couldn't make up its mind with a hail shower followed by blue skies!
We went through Netherton Tunnel - the bit before at Windmill End and Cobbs Engine House is one of my favourite parts of the BCN. We had to fill an empty pound at Tipton Factory three locks (right) and ended the day by the Black Country Living Museum.
John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!