So, on the first Sunday of March we are due to attend the Parkhead Lock Open Day organised by CRT in conjunction with the Dudley Canal Trust.
Parkhead Locks is a flight on the Brimingham Canal Navigations, Dudley Canal Number 1 through route. The first short section was connected to Stourbridge in 1779, making it one of the oldest canals and the Parkhead Locks, connecting it to the BCN, some of the first to be built.
With news of the imminent arrival of 'The Beast From the East', bringing freezing weather conditions to the Midlands, we decided to beat the Beast and leave Birmingham, yesterday.
Less than a mile out of Brimingham, we hit the ice. Now the blacking recently applied to Molly at great expense and effort is intended to protect her bottom from rusting for at least 2 years..........unless she comes into contact with ice, which is liable to strip that blacking without mercy. The grinding, scraping, thumping sound of the ice moving against the hull, punctuated by occassional cracks echoing ominously throughout the boat thankfully sounded much worse (we hoped) than the actual impact of the quarter inch thick ice. We deliberated about proceeding, but decided that, hopefully this was the worst it would be, plus we had been assured that there was no ice at Netherton, our destination for the rest of the week.
Wrong! Half a mile further and the ice was half an inch thick. You wouldn't think that there could be much difference between a quarter of an inch of ice and half an inch, but there is - you dont just hear the ice breaking, you also feel it as the boat mounts the ice, slides to one side and then lunges violently downwards, often listing before the next rise and slide. If you should find yourself in this situation, the secret is to go very slowly so as to minimise potential impact and damage. Thankfully, we did not pass any moored boats on the icy sections as obviously, our movement and the breaking ice would scrape their blacking off like a razor blade!
As assured, there was no ice in Netherton and we arrived and moored up easily at the Beautiful Bumble Hole. Molly, however, is sporting an ice line, indelibly stamped on her new shiny blacking all around her water line! So when it is a bit warmer and the water tank is empty, she will be getting a touch up.