The first test of that came with the need to climb the 21 locks up to the centre of Wolverhampton, and it went quite well. Val was not totally incapacitated and could handle the boat in the locks, though Dave had to take it on from one to the next. We began to develop a modified lock-working system. If you look very carefully at this photo, you may be able to see Val waving her purple-plastered arm as we work up the Wolverhampton flight!
From the very pleasant visitor moorings at the top of the flight (and right next to the centre of Wolverhampton), the canal follows Brindley's 'Wolverhampton Level' all the way into Birmingham – the route we followed the first time we came this way. Last time, at the end of 2008, we took the very circuitous route via the Wyrley & Essington and other less used canals. This time, as time was limited, we opted for Telford's New Main Line, which cuts off 7 miles of Brindley's original route.
Out of Birmingham, then, on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. We had turned east at King's Norton Junction on our way down south in April 2007, but now we were heading south and west into new territory for us. (We did come a short distance down this canal in 1986, our last hire-boat holiday).
9 miles, 3 tunnels but 0 locks from Kings Norton, we came to the top of the Tardebigge flight, went down one lock and enjoyed the moorings there for a day before setting off down the remaining 29. It was NOT a marathon, NOT a struggle at all – just easy locks in pleasant countryside – and Val was developing the knack of controlling the throttle lever with her elbow!