Several centuries ago, the main means of transportation in the United Kingdom was canals. They were developed and used just as we develop and use highways, and the network of canals still exists to a large extent. The hub of these canals was Birmingham. While many canals do not exist anymore, the canal area is undergoing a major facelift. Housing projects, restaurants and bars, shopping malls, boat tours: you can find it all along the many waterways of the second largest city in the United Kingdom.
It is claimed that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. This might be true for the length of all canals combined and the fact that Birmingham is much bigger than the famous canal city, but Birmingham certainly does not have anything close to the romantic feel of Venice. Still, walking the towpaths and improved canalside quays has a certain charm. After visiting the inner city, this is a different story. Attractive bow-shaped bridges, long, narrow boats plying the canals cautiously, people walking the waterside, quiet peaceful corners all give something extra to the feel of this part of Birmingham.
Sometimes, the broad quays narrow down to a towpath that is just enough to let one person pass at a time. You can even see the signs of ropes having eaten their ways into the sidepillars under bridges. Walking further along the canals took me to the locks of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Here, I stayed to see two boats on their way down the canal, their skippers manually opening and closing the locks, and sweating it out under a warm June midday sun. The locks are made to measure, as the narrowboats just fit in. Walking up the stairs took me to a main street and back to the other, modern, busy Birmingham that seemed to far away on the quiet canals.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Birmingham Canals. Read more about this site.