Time to move on, we had unexpectedly stayed nearly 14 days at the Bumble Hole but despite the early warning…
The ice had almost all gone by 11 and we made the decision to go
Our real need to move was that we were running low on water so we crossed over to the water point outside the Bumble Hole visitor centre. Whilst we were filling up we realised there was an angry mob gathering, but no not angry at all, the lovely team of volunteers who look after this site so brilliantly. We had chatted several times during our visit, both about the area and our journey, we had even been allowed a sneek peek inside the visitor centre as it was being prepared for re-opening this week. Its well worth stopping of to have a look as its full of photos and artefacts from the days gone by. And I think they do refreshments as well. They had just returned from their daily litter pick so posed for a photo.
We really had enjoyed our stay here. Lots of friendly people, beautiful scenery and good weather. We even had a visit from our friends who live in Worcestershire. But now that we had untied the ropes it was time to go. We could have turned south at Windmill End Junction to complete the Dudley 2 navigation at Hawne Basin. But it would have meant going through Gosty tunnel which is notoriously shallow. So much so that the marina will send a search party if you don’t emerge.
So we returned to Plan A to continue our Midlands March and set off through the tunnel
The Netherton tunnel was built at the end of the great canal age, to relieve the congestion caused by the narrow Dudley tunnel. It is unusually wide and has a Towpath each side. It also had the luxury of gas lighting. It took us 45 minutes to cruise the 2768m (1.7miles) and when we emerged another 15 minutes to reach the Birmingham main line canal.
This is when we realised we should have taken note of that red sky in the morning. The ice on the Main Line was still thick. We had planned to get to Oldbury, but instead it took us over half an hour to get around the corner and moor up. Eric stood on the bow smashing the ice to create a channel while I inched us forward. We’ll try not to make that mistake again. We might have only moved at a snails pace but I was too concerned to take any photos so you’ll have to use your imagination