BirminghamBursting with life, brilliant moorings, within a stones throw of the city centre – it’s hard to find anything to moan about with Birmingham. But we have.BCN Main Line

Cambrian Wharf comes complete with the strangest squawking noise. It starts about 6am, happens randomly but often and finishes about 8pm. For a couple of days we were looking skyward, scanning the balconies of the highrise towers for a parrot in a cage but nothing, eventually coming to the conclusion itdirty pharmacy‘s some sort of pigeon deterrent. The locals don’t seem to know what it is, some even claim they can’t hear it… giving the mystery sparrow hawk a sinister kind of a twist.old toll point on BCN main line

Waited for the naughtFactory Locks BCN Main Liney historic workboats to move off from a night on the waterpoint before filling the tank then leaving the city behind. We’ve warmed to the first hour or so of the main line, its raw and blatantly disused closed up look has a certain appeal. But on past Smethwick Junction we’re still not feeling the love. Grimy and dull it goes on, up past the Black Country Museum, on, through Coseley Tunnel, on, winding round scrap yards, on, Shropshire Union through Wolverhampton where, finally through a flight of 21 locks requiring a conservation key a trillion times over things suddenly cheer right up. Even on a sunny Saturday in May there’s hardly a soul about, in 15 miles and 24 locks we only passed one boat and that was Black Prince looking lost. A far cry from the caravan of boats we were part of arriving in from Bournville.

Took a right, then a left through the stop lock and onto the Shropshire Union. Green and lush and full of boats.