Do you remember the last May Bank holiday when we actually had three glorious sunny days? Hard to believe that was only a few weeks ago isn’t it. We spent one of those days at the Black Country Living Museum and hadn’t realised that it was right next door to somewhere else we’ve been wanting to visit for some time. so we killed two birds with one stone, so to speak, and also spent some time exploring the Dudley Canal Tunnels.
The Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust run 45 minute boats trips through a number of canal tunnels and from what I’d read it sounded like a really interesting and different kind of excursion. The main visitor centre and museum can be reached via their own car park or from the canal side of the Black Country Living Museum.
My son was a little hesitant to start with, until he realised that there was no way the canal boats we’d be going on would be speeding through the tunnels. It would be a nice leisurely trip, it might get a little dark at times, but he could just hold me hand. It wouldn’t be scary. I think wearing a hard hat finally sold him on the idea of exploring the Dudley Canal Tunnels.
Hard hats are compulsory for all passengers except babes in arms. It’s worth noting that once your 45 minute trip starts there is nowhere to get off until it finishes and there are no toilet facilities. We did have one small child on our trip, who clearly found the trip scary, and he screamed his way round it. It did make it hard for the rest of us to hear the tour guide properly and my heart went out to his parents. Children under three travel for free.
But that aside, we had great fun exploring the Dudley Canal Tunnels. You start the trip from the Tipton Portal heading towards Lord Ward’s Tunnel with really no idea of what lies beyond.
It definitely helped my son to relax, that he could literally see light at the end of the tunnel before we entered it, so it wasn’t quite so daunting for him.
It never ceases to amaze me how the Victorian’s built so much with none of the technology we have today. How hard must it have been for the workforce to tunnel through the limestone to create the canals and tunnels that we can see and probably take for granted.
From Lord Ward’s tunnel you arrive in Shirts Mill Basin and back into daylight.
The basin originally served as a loading area for two local limestone mines, one of which also produced coal.
From here you travel through another tunnel to reach Castle Mill Basin and travel through the 1989 Canal Tunnel which was built as the original tunnel was beyond restoration.
It may be modern, but it’s still a magical part of the tour in my opinion.
The Singing Cavern Shaft is another gem as you spend time exploring the Dudley Canal Tunnels, with its lovely light show and film about the history of the area.
We were reminded to look up as we passed Hurst Junction, to see daylight above us.
Before seeing miners at work in Hurst Cavern.
Before we knew it our tour was coming to and end, it was fun and informative and most definitely something that we’d recommend.
Once we’d returned to the canal side, we handed our hard hats back in and spent some time admiring the canal boats back out in the main Dudley Canal.
Before going back to continue our adventure in the Black Country Living Museum.
Have you been to visit the Dudley Canal Tunnels? Why not pin it for later if you haven’t.