Salford Junction - Rushall Junction
Tame Valley Canal
5 miles
The Tame Valley Canal arrived late, an 1844 equivalent of the M6 Toll Road, built to skirt Birmingham and avoid the congestion of the city centre. The canal is characterised by long straight sections, high embankments, deep cuttings and large road bridges.

Subterranean darkness cloaks the first portion of the walk as Spaghetti Junction envelops you in tarmac and concrete pasta. High above, cars and lorries create a concoction of noise and rumble. But even here herons earn an honest living and a graffiti artists take the opportunity to share some homespun philosophy. However this is the BCN, so practically every surface is spray painted but perhaps not always eloquently.

Thankfully a stone memorial to a murdered policeman has not been defaced, and going under Witton Railway Bridge and the turnover bridge, you leave Spaghetti behind. The chimney on the left of the cut is one of the few remnants of the once mighty GEC. Established in 1912, there were once more employees here than in a small town.

You pass a lock cottage and Perry Barr Bottom Lock, the first of thirteen over two miles that will take you from 302ft to 408ft. You may think that you've thrown off the M6 but it makes your acquaintance again a little further on as you pass Witton Cemetery and go under the Witton Motorway Viaduct. Next up are the playing fields of Birmingham City University and after Aldridge Road you again fall under the clutches of the motorway.

The main flight of Perry Barr Locks are well tended and rather impressive as they climbs past the Alexander Stadium. There are visitor facilities at the top and after Walsall Road Bridge the rumble of traffic becomes more distant. You could almost be in the country with bluebells amongst the detritus.

The towpath is really quite pleasant if a little tedious as the canal is dead straight with high banks, you're essentially in a different world to the surrounding tedious urban sprawl. When the banks suddenly disappear and you cross two aqueducts, a majestic sweep of Hamstead and the skyscrapers of Birmingham City Centre can be 'admired'. You also learn that a local with a can of paint thinks that 'The Revolution Is Now'.

Just before Gorse Farm Bridge there was a basin, just about still visible, that served the nearby Hamstead Colliery (1875 - 1965) via a tramway. After Brickfields Turnover Bridge the rumble of traffic becomes louder but there is actually an adjacent field, the first one we've seen since setting off. Eventually Rushall Junction is reached, where the Rushall Canal goes right under a typical BCN bridge. A little further on, extending the walk following the parallel M6, there is another aqueduct from where you can observe the midland motorway network in glorious detail.

 

 

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