|Turning off the Staffs & Worcs into the Wolverhampton 21|
The day started well. It was cold; very cold but an hour's run down the Staffs & Worcs, including the infamous narrows carved through solid rock, brought us quickly to the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 and a chance to warm up.
|The huge chimney of the local incinerator plant soon looms into view|
|Gavin, our enthusiastic and capable local lock-wheeler|
|The canal ducks under the main railway line|
|Leaving Gavin at the top of the flight|
|A quick pit stop at the handsome Broad Street Basin|
|Heading into the unknown at Horseley Fields Junction|
|Beyond these arches were once large working boat basins|
|Passing the start of the old Bentley Canal, now surrounded by a retail park|
It was shortly after the Bentley that the Curly Wurley showed us its darker side. We were briefly stuck in the silt on a tight S-bend and I then spent several miles trying with varying degrees of success to clean off the prop with bursts of reverse. (Each to the accompaniment of agitated yapping from Seadog Brian). A conglomeration of plastic bags, mysterious rubbish, the occasional clattering thump from underneath and plain old sludgy water slowed us to less than walking pace, save for short spells when the engine burst back to life.
|The Curly Wurley spends much of its route winding through housing like this|
We went on, heading for Sneyd (pronounced Sneed) Junction where more moorings were listed, meandering through former coalfields, now a country park. But twilight had turned to darkness as we made the hairpin turn (with Mrs B pulling the bows around by rope from the bank to help get us through the silt) and finally, finally moored up.