Saturday, 26 May 2012

Explorer Cruise - last day

12miles - no locks - 2 tunnels
Today was definitely a tale of two tunnels.
We woke early and set off at 6:40.  Even Birmingham city centre is peaceful at this time of the morning.

Netherton is like a motorway: it was the last canal tunnel to be built in Britain, in 1858: it is 3027 yards long, dead straight and with tow paths both sides.

Just before entering the north portal we passed under the old main line which was our route to Birmingham yesterday.The original gas lighting and its replacement electric form are no more.

Before arriving at Netherton Tunnel, however we passed this attractive disused stables which is currently seeking a new use.  A short life involving a pub and club foundered due to complaints from the neighbours across the canal about late night noise.

We also passed Smethwick pumping station which was built to pump water from the lower, new, line to the old line which you  can see on the right of this picture.  Its life was short - about 60 years - as decline in canal traffic meant the water supply from the reservoirs could cope without any additional adjustment. A fine looking building with an inoperable steam engine with Lancashire boilers now used for educational purposes.

Gosty Hill tunnel on the Dudley No 2 canal is like a country lane: officially two-way but barely wide enough for one boat. It is only 577 yards but passage takes almost as long as Netherton Tunnel.  It is so low in parts that we ensured our water and fuel tanks are both full before entering.  Even the flowers had to come of the roof: and I sat in the bows to complete the essential measures.

Dudley No 2 canal is very pretty and is superbly maintained by The Coombeswood Canal Trust who own the terminal Hawne Basin where we will have a Chinese supper tonight supplied by the local take-away and hosted by the canal trust.

This is one piece of approved graffiti installed by the trust along the canal.

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