The Midlands March, Discovering the Bumble Hole

We hadn’t expected to find quite such a gem of a mooring in the middle of a nature reserve, in the middle of the Black Country. So much so that we both agreed it needed further exploration. First we had to discover what is the Bumble Hole. Nowadays it is a small lake that gives it’s name to a nature reserve but 300 years ago, it was a clay pit.

The Bumble Hole Lake

However a map from the 1780’s show the Bumble Hole was the name of a house built next to the brook that was purloined to build the contour canal.

Bumble Hole Loop canal

Bumble means murmuring water, and Hole refers to the hollow next to the ford crossing the track, (which became Northfield Road). There was a windmill along this branch which gave rise to this conglomeration of canal arms being known as the Windmill End junction.

What’s left of the Bumble Hole windmill

In front of the windmill is Harris’s Boatyard, which built and serviced the many boats used for transporting goods to and fro during the industrial revolution. But now it is a quiet residential mooring. The land has alongside the Bumble Hole has been reclaimed and turned into a nature reserve.

Besides the canals, all that’s left of the coal mining, quarries and foundries that scarred this landscape are the occasional red brick foundations that can be seen in the ground, ponds and lakes that had been pits, and the Cobb’s Engine house. All taken care of by the Bumble hole conservation group.

Cobb’s Engine House

The Cobb’s Engine House housed one of James Watts beam engines, used to pump an average of 1.67 million litres (367 500 gallons) of water every single day out of the mines and into the canal. Sadly it’s only the brickwork that remains now, but we were able to walk around and continue up the hill to look back to our mooring , (which we can’t actually see from here)

Looking down Warren Hall towards Cobb’s

But we knew we were standing over the Netherton Tunnel. Once we’d started walking up the hill we carried on, out of the nature reserve, across the Dudley golf club

Dudley golf course

past Turners Hill transmitter site.

Turner Hill transmitters

Until we’d reached the summit. And with the greens of the golf course and the nature reserve to the west behind us,

Looking back, Beyond the paddock

we could see over to the west, the modern sprawl of Birmingham, which is where we will be cruising through over the coming month.

Birmingham, approx 6 miles to the East, as the crow flies

Our walk gave us quite some cause to contemplate, how lucky we are to no longer be shrouded in pollution, and to have these pockets of beauty amidst such a densely populated area, yet whilst we shuddered at the thought of what it was like 300 years ago, what would life be like now if we hadn’t had the industrial revolution. And what must we do to nurture our planet and society for the good of all. No time for complacency.

Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning