The whole of the area surrounding the end of the Netherton Tunnel is now landscaped park land, with many lakes and pools and evocative names, like Bumble Hole and Boshbiol, Not so many years ago the place was full of coal mines, brick kilms, foundries, furnaces, boat yards and railways. One major claim to fame was that the anchors and chains for the ill fated Titanic were forged here. The lakes have been formed by mining subsidence, otherwise the only other obvious testament to all this activity is the huge empty engine house and chimney for the pump that kept the mines dry.
Whilst we were this end of Netherton tunnel we decided to explore the remains of the Dudley No 2 Canal. There is only about two and a half miles before reaching the end of navigation at Hawne Basin, Halesowen. Gosty Hill tunnel, 577 yards long, or in local literature Gorsty Hill Tunnel, had to be passed, however Gosty is far more appropriate what it lacks in length it also lacks in height. The high North Portal gave no cause for concern, but soon a grim picture of Dracula indicates much lower headroom and I did for moment wonder if our top box would clear, fortunately it did, but not by much, the thought of having to reverse out was not something I wanted to think about.
I wouldn’t recommend this route to the faint hearted or the claustrophobic, you have to return this way, although as we knew we had clearance the return journey seemed much quicker. There is a lively boating community at the end, but we only stopped briefly for lunch. Back through the Netherton Tunnel and a left turn and we were on our way to Tipton, approaching the Factory Locks exactly as two BW men were about to padlock them at six o’clock due to water conservancy caused by the draining of that big reservoir, the name of which I can’t remember. They agreed that this was not a healthy place to stay the night and happily they quickly assisted us through the locks and ten minutes we were tied up right beside the Black Country Museum, protected from the scary outside world by a gate secured by a BW padlock.