Welcome to the story of Hale and Hearty travelling the canals of Great Britian

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Birmingham to Stafford week 3

Birmingham continued to reveal its delights to us, we could so easily have spent a week there, who would have thought it? It was lovely to see our friends every day and to go to choral evensong at the cathederal together on Sunday, a very welcoming service. On monday we did some more of the lovely museum, and now have a better understanding of the Pre Raphaelite artists. We had lunch at our favourite oriental buffet and then had a brief exploration of the jewellery quarter and the wonderful Pen Room. Birmingham was the centre of the pen and nib making industry before fountain pens and then biros took over. The little museum, run by volunteers, is just a delight.
We decided that we would leave on Tuesday and had a very long and heavy day going all the way out via the Netherton tunnel, 3027 yards about 1.75 miles, long and dark, quite an adventure, then 25 locks to get into the countryside over another 12 miles. I managed to give myself a severe smack in the face with the windlass and nearly lost both front teeth so poor Martin had to do all the hard work whilst I nursed my shock. Since then the damage has mostly healed and we have continued in some delightful countryside. On Friday we visited Wightwick Manor, (National Trust) the home of a fellow who was a great fan of William Morris and had a son who loved Pre-Raphaelite art so a real arts and crafts haven and a great visit.
We have also savoured the delights of a laundrette as the weather has been rather drippy and we have not been able to use our little washing machine as we could not get stuff dry. In total this week we have done 33 miles and 46 locks, we have seen ducks, geese, swans, moorhens and coots all with their young and passed by fishing herons within 15 feet. At times the water has been so clear that we have been able to see the bottom, canals aren't very deep, and at times teeming with fish - which explains why there are so many fishermen (and a few women). In urban areas it is good to see how the canals provide a recreation place and the towpaths are well used by walkers, runners, cyclists and meanderers.

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