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Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Tipton

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Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Tipton
Author: sammy_benbow, Published: 19 Sep 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
West Midlands, Wolverhampton
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Tipton
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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This is a 6 mile linear walk from Wolverhampton to Tipton. It follows the route of the Old Main Line canal and comprises of two junctions, two tunnels and several points of interest. Some parts of the route are urbanised while others are more rural.

The walk commences in Wolverhampton and concludes in Tipton, both of which offer various shops.

The walk takes place along well maintained towpaths for the most part, but there is some road walking involved. A torch is also highly recommended as the tunnels are unlit. Allow 2-2.5 hours to complete. There are some reasonably steep inclines and also a short flight of about a dozen steps. There are a few radar key scheme gates, and as early parts of the route form part of the Birmingham and Black Country Cycleway (route 81), there will often be cyclists.

As a linear walk you have several choices for getting there: either to leave a car at each end, or to use local buses or trains. Catching a train may be a quicker, more convenient option for returning to the start point.

Start parking: The nearest parking is a pay and display car park off Westbury Street, Wolverhampton. Approximate postcode: WV1 1JD

End parking: The nearest parking is a free car park off Albion Street, Tipton. Approximate postcode: DY4 8QG

By bus to start point: The nearest bus stop is at Wolverhampton Bus Station. Depart the bus station onto Pipers Row, turn right and cross straight over at the junction onto Fryer Street. Turn right onto Broad Street, then cross over the Ring Road. Head down Wednesfield Road for a short distance, over the bridge then turn left and follow the path to the canal.

By bus from end point: Turn right over the bridge then cross at the pelican crossing. Walk up towards the shopping centre. The bus stop is present after just over 100m. Several buses head into Dudley and several head from Dudley to Wolverhampton.

By train to start point: depart the train station and head up the road over the bridge to the junction. Turn right onto Fryer street. Turn right onto Broad Street, then cross over the Ring Road. Head down Wednesfield Road for a short distance, over the bridge then turn left and follow the path to the canal.

By train from end point: The train station is visible at the end of the walk, as the path is adjacent to the station entrance.

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Walk Sections

Start to Horseley Fields Junction

Start point: 52.5887 lat, -2.1226 long
End point: 52.5852 lat, -2.1129 long

The walk starts in the redeveloped Hay Basin. There are green areas here and several benches. There are also often ducks and geese.

Begin the walk by heading under Broad Street bridge. Follow the towpath with the canal on your right. Go ahead over the bridge, which allows the canal access to a small basin. This basin was part of the original line of the canal, which was built over in about 1850 to allow the construction of the high level station.

You will come to a tunnel. Wolverhampton Tunnel is 75m long and was added as part of Smeaton's improvements to the canal, which straightened the route and left several meandering loops. The tunnel is unlit, but the towpath is wide and generally dry. On emerging, look to the right of the canal to see some of the old buildings that lined it, interspersed with new builds.

Continue on until you reach the bridge at Horseley Fields Junction. On the other side of the canal, a white signpost is visible. Keep left, heading up and onto the bridge. The canal that the bridge traverses is the Wyrley and Essington.

Horseley Fields Junction to Chillington Wharf
Horseley Fields Junction to Chillington Wharf

Start point: 52.5852 lat, -2.1129 long
End point: 52.5802 lat, -2.1121 long

Continue over the bridge, keeping right as you descend under Horseley Fields Bridge. Again, on the far side of the canal, large buildings can be seen that date from the origins of the canals.

Continue on until you reach the next bridge. Look left here, and you will see Chillington Wharf. This is one of the best examples of a transshipment basin that can be seen in the local area. Canal boats would have entered the basin to have their cargoes removed for transport by rail. The large crane to the left of the sheds was still in use in the 1980s. Opposite this can be seen the site of what was Shrubbery Interchange Basins, which have since been built over. The entrance to the basin can still be seen on the far side of the canal.

Chillington Wharf to Deepfields Junction
Chillington Wharf to Deepfields Junction

Start point: 52.5802 lat, -2.1121 long
End point: 52.5528 lat, -2.0902 long

Continue to follow the towpath under Bilston Road Bridge. There is an interesting sight along this stretch. At one point, as the canal bends to the left, you may notice the towpath dip slightly for a short distance. If you look closely at the side of the towpath, you may be able to see a metal grating. This dipped section would once have been used to regulate the water level in the canal, with the towpath above it.

There is a concrete pill box along this stretch, which likely dates from World War II. Damage to the canal could have been quite severe had it been bombed during a raid, so stop planks were put into various narrows and bridge holes every night and removed the following morning. If a breach did occur, only a small section would have been drained.

Continue on under the bridges until you reach Deepfields Junction, where the bridge rises over the Wednesbury Oak Loop. The Loop was part of the Old Main Line until the opening of Coseley Tunnel in 1837. The section was abandoned officially in the 1950s, although a long section of it is still navigable. Your path takes you onto Deepfields Bridge.

Deepfields Junction to Coseley Tunnel
Deepfields Junction to Coseley Tunnel

Start point: 52.5528 lat, -2.0902 long
End point: 52.5442 lat, -2.0882 long

This next short section leads you to Coseley Tunnel, which was opened in 1837. The opening of the tunnel removed three miles from the length of the journey along the Old Main Line.

Continue along until you reach the second footbridge by the entrance to the tunnel, which is painted attractively in black and white. Cross the footbridge. Adventurous souls may wish to enter the tunnel. Be warned, however, that it is unlit and there is no through route. The towpath is also in a state of disrepair.

Coseley Tunnel to End
Coseley Tunnel to End

Start point: 52.5442 lat, -2.0882 long
End point: 52.5303 lat, -2.066 long

To continue the walk, follow the path from the end of the footbridge up the slope. Climb the steps, then turn left. At the adjacent junction, turn left onto Ivyhouse Lane. Cross the road, then head right along Tunnel Street. Cross this road and walk down to the traffic island. Take the second exit along Bayer Street. Walk down this road, crossing the rail bridge, until you reach the junction with Martyn Close. Turn right here, cross the rail bridge, then bear left immediately afterwards, next to the metal access pole.

Follow the slope down to the canal. Continue to follow the canal, again keeping it on your right. This section is rather rural and popular with fishermen. The low bridge that runs parallel to the canal is all that remains of the Factory Bridge Arm. The path continues under Factory Road Bridge (named for a now-missing soap factory) and alongside Factory Locks. Note the unusual bridge over the bottom lock.

Continue along until the next bridge. This bridge goes over what used to be the entrance to Three Furnace Branch, which was built over by Tipton railway station. This is the end point of the walk.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author sammy_benbow and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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