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.
8 thoughts on “Exploring the Dudley Canal Tunnels”
Now this looks like my kind of adventure – educational and interesting. I do like that you get to tour through the really old original tunnels and then see a modern one with the light show and a little mining scene. A great insight into the history of the canal and a lovely day to enjoy the sunshine along the banks of the canal after.
Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
yes some of the buildings done over the centuries from the pyramids to Stonehenge, castles and cathedrals have always amazed me with the skills that they took to get them spot out.
This sounds like a great trip to take. The colours in the more modern tunnel look interesting.
Glad Monkey enjoyed it with no problems.
These look amazing, they look incredible all lit up.
I’d love to spend the day exploring these
That looks really interesting. I’m not sure N would sit through 45 minutes of it though. I’d certainly not take a toddler or preschooler on it.
I like the idea of exploring the tunnels but I think I’d find it a little claustrophobic. Like another commenter, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to take a toddler on it, those poor parents!
I know, I did feel sorry for them
I remember taking this trip when we visited the Black Country Living Museum and the girls enjoyed it. It’s so interesting to learn more about the history of the tunnel and the light show is amazing to watch. We had a couple of people legging the boat through the tunnel as well which was interesting. #countrykids
It’s really interesting isn’t it. They couldn’t get anyone to try legging on our boat unfortunately.