After the icy winds and bleakness, we woke to a glorious blue sky. What a difference a day makes.
It was a bit of an emotional tussle for me, sticking to our decision to avoid any crowded environment, not to be sucked into the retail complex, just for a browse of course, but the thought of our days cruise was more tempting and off we set.
The canal was still passing through some scruffy backwaters,
Until we came to the junction and lock at Blowers Green
This marks the division from the Dudley 1 and Dudley 2 canals. And the start of some interesting canal art, combining history and pride in the locality .
If we had continued up the flight we would have had to go through the Dudley 1 tunnel, but it wasn’t clear if we would be able to transit unescorted at this time of year. It is a narrow tunnel with poor ventilation and requires a booked passage. Admittedly we didn’t research the possibilities as there is a clear and easy alternative going via the Netherton tunnel on the Dudley 2 canal. So we turned right.
What a surprise. We were now in the heart of the Black Country and had expected more backwaters and graffiti, however we found ourselves cruising through some peaceful quiet countryside, the Saltwell nature reserve, and past Netherton reservoir.
Aside from our current knowledge about coal usage, Its hard to imagine just how all pervasive and destructive the mining industry was on the landscape. We assume all this green space are areas of reclaimed land from the intense mining activity that prompted the region to be known as Black Country.
No wonder there were so canals around here, we passed by a disused shortcut that had linked the Dudley 1 and 2
Our journey continued under the aptly named high bridge.
Where the road had previously passed over a tunnel, a narrow hard tunnel for the boaters and leggers, hence it’s uncovering.
We passed through more wharfs and boat yards, and signs commemorating the local industrial heritage. Until we arrived at the southern portal of the Netherton Tunnel at the Bumblehole, Windmill End. Lots of mooring, walking and peace. We think we shall stay here a while and explore.