Black Country Ring (plus a bit):
Birmingham to Curdworth

9 June 2009

The sun is shining as we begin our long descent from the Birmingham level, starting with the 13 locks of the Farmers Bridge flight.

The flight is a real mixture of modern housing, 20th-century office buildings and the remains of heavy industry.

Alan at the tiller with Merry as we descend towards the BT Tower

Modern apartments have here been built out over the side pond

Helen, Sheila and Jane work the lock with Alan at the tiller: Lucy is on ahead helping the boat ahead so they don't delay our progress.

Behind Sheila is the brick wall typical of the old Birmingham Canal Navigations, behind which all the canals used to hide: behind it is a bright new building, a decaying old one, and lots of open space from demolished industry.

Continuing the descent

Here the lock is in a little tunnel

Emerging from the lock-in-a-tunnel, looking down on the next which is in a cavern under a tall office building

A slightly tricky manoeuvre as Mary moves over in the tight space to allow a boat coming up to pass us.


After the lock-in-a-tunnel, the lock under a building.

Helen and Lucy prepare the next lock for us - in the open air at last

Emerging from the huge Snow Hill railway station bridge, we reach the last lock.

After a very short respite, the locks of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal continue with the eleven locks of the Aston flight, which take us past a mixture of active and derelict industry. But even in dereliction, nature can provide beauty.

A modern office development with a decorative fake lock.

A decorative wall brightens the scene a little

Lucy waits for the last of the eleven locks to empty

We cross the River Tame and approach the M6 and the eastern tail of Gravelly Hill Interchange, better known as Spaghetti Junction.

From the Tame Aqueduct, the pillars of Spaghetti Junction are reflected in the River Tame under the bridge of the A5127 Lichfield Road.

Hidden almost beneath the M6 motorway is this canal "crossroads" where the Tame Valley joins the Birmingham & Fazeley from the west, and the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal heads off towards London to the south. Our way lies along the Birmingham & Fazeley.

Looking up the Warwick & Birmingham Junction Canal, otherwise known as the Saltley Cut of the Grand Union Canal.

After five more miles and three more locks, we reach the short Curdworth Tunnel where we stop for the night.

Off to the pub for dinner

The White Horse at Curdworth.

Total for today: 8 miles, 5 furlongs including 27 locks



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson