Thursday, 19 February 2015

Wandering in the rain

Bankside breakfast for a nuthatch courtesy of Tug Harry's diner
Tug Harry's mobile bird feeding service did brisk business this morning. Every day after we moor up Mrs B hangs out her nut feeder, fat ball and mini bird table (an old plastic flower pot saucer) on the nearest hedgerow.
It's amazing how quickly the local birds find them but this morning in our quiet country mooring above Gailey we quickly had a crowd, among them some long tailed tits and a pair of exquisite (and rare) nuthatches.
But after watching them scoffing nuts for an hour, we were getting restless. It might be tipping with rain but it was time to move on. Understandably virtually no-one else was. Only Jacko on coal boat Roach passed us, his fully laden boat sitting low and handsome in the water.
Loaded coal boat Roach passing us by
From Gailey the canal follows a clasic Brindley summit route, squirming and wriggling to follow the natural contour of the land. It's scrubby, non-descript country; former heathland that is relatively worthless for agriculture. These sorts of land, as we've often seen, become homes to stabling and pastures, oddball bungalows owned by collectors of ageing vehicles and farmware and the occasional industry, too toxic or anti-social to be located anywhere else.
And so it is at Calf Heath where the canal runs past a massive chemical plant ('no mooring or stopping even if the alarm sounds') followed shortly by the bulky buildings and enormous chimneys of an incinerator. Or Energy Recovery Facility as its owners Veolia call it.
The canal wriggles its way through three sides of an erratic square from here, at one point passing the junction with the old Hatherton Canal, now part of a marina but potentially part of the restored Lichfield and Hatherton Canal which one day will provide a route across the top of Birmingham and a new cruising ring. One day. For now, motorists can spot the aqueduct bridge across the M6 Toll just waiting for canals to meet it either side.
After its shallow start the S&W is now deep and wide – save at one spot where we briefly ran aground. Ironically this was at the mis-named Deepmore Bridge.
We finally pulled up by the Fox & Anchor pub at Cross Green, once a boatsman's boozer called the Anchor and now a smart dine and drink country hostelry.

1 comment:

  1. He gets around a bit I watched him go through Harecastle tunnel at 8.30 on Saturday morning.