Stephen’s Strolls: Dudley Dawdle

The sun is shining, the shopping is done, I’ve resisted the temptation to live on my armchair, so I’ve gone out.

I’m currently sat on the train, leaving Coventry and heading to Birmingham. From there, I’m heading to Dudley Port, where i can pick up the Birmingham Mainline Canal that runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. There’s a lovely canal circuit there which I haven’t walked in over 10 years, so I’ll be curious to see what’s changed.

One place i will be going near but not through this trip is Netherton Tunnel. It’s the longest canal tunnel in England that has a towpath along it.

I remember the first time i walked through it. I read the sign on the side that said it takes 45 minutes to navigate. I looked into the tunnel, and could see the light at the end and thought to myself that there was no way it would take that long. So i started walking it.

Ten minutes later, and the light was no bigger. The light behind me was now about the same size, and i realised that it probably was accurate. I also regretted not bringing a torch with me! It took about 45 minutes to walk.

Anyway, the hundred or so feet of solid rock and clay above the tunnel roof makes for a poor signal, so live blogging from there won’t be easy. I might do it later in the year; it’s great timing the walk so i go through the tunnel when the sun is at it’s hottest. Blissfully cool!

Should be at the canal in about an hour or so. Catch you soon!

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Have a nice stroll!
Looking forward to seeing how far along spring has come over there :slight_smile:

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Now at Birmingham New Street. My train is in 17 minutes, and due to arrive at Dudley Port at 10.21.

Sat on a hard plastic bench seat, and wondering if it is possible to fluff it up.

Also a bit puzzled by the design of this seat:

Sure, it’s good to see that the disabled access seats are clearly marked, but wondering why it is at the end of a row where they can only get to it by stepping over other people’s legs. Also, do the users of these seats want a temporary branding of a disabled sign on their back???

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Now sat on the train. The seats are INFINITELY more comfortable! Due to leave in a few mins…

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Here i am, and there it is!

Not a straightforward route though…

And, in the immortal words of Adele…

Hello from the other side

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I don’t like negging, particularly canals, but the efficient straight design of the mainline canal does leave it a little featureless. View to the south:

And to the north, which is the way I’m heading:

But i am certain i will still find little bits of fascination to show you

How warm is it?

Are the canals swimable in the summer?

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It’s strange, this audio dichotomy I’m getting. Like previous walks, it looks so peaceful even though i am in a city.

Unlike previous canal walks, this one is on a raised embankment, so i can hear lots of noise, particularly warning noises.

To the left, beyond the houses, i can hear a police car.

But to the right, somewhere in the trees is a bird giving a warning call about its territory

My goodness! What’s that strange thing ahead? Could it be… a bend???

It is!!!

And now for the first of today’s locks:

Thank you to the kind family for letting me take this pic.

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This way would take me to Wolverhampton

But I’m going this way, to Peaky Blinders territory!

I’m now on the Old Main Line, which is the next part of my circuit. Unpaved towpaths and sun in the eyes, but altogether still picturesque

Around the bend, and it’s more urban.

Still absolutely beautiful

And now we’re back to the more rustic urban part of Tipton

See that branch to the right?

That’s the Stourbridge canal, which will take you past the Black Country Living Museum (where some Peaky Blinder scenes were filmed) and through the Dudley Tunnel, which is even longer than Netherton Tunnel (no towpath though)

But I’m heading in the general direction of Birmingham!

I think that bridge ahead used to be an aqueduct, for the now disused South Staffordshire canal line.

It looks like work has been going on here.

Not sure what for though

Not gone silent… just needed to report a fallen tree to the Canal and River Trust.

I don’t think it is possible to shout the praises of the staff and volunteers of that organisation; i have gotten so much peace and joy from the canals over the past decade or so!

Just had a chat with a friendly cyclist who has been cycling around Tipton, Dudley and Birmingham on the canals, and he wanted to check where he was, and if he had made it back to Tipton. At the moment we are in Dudley Port, in a place where i now want to retire to.

We shared tips on where to go in the future (note to self: must revisit the Tame Valley Canal sometime) and then went our separate ways.

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As far as bridges go…

…this one…

…doesn’t seem …

…to serve…

…much purpose.

Still nice though.