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Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Wednesbury Oak Loop

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Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Wednesbury Oak Loop
Author: sammy_benbow, Published: 22 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 UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
West Midlands, Wolverhampton
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Birmingham Old Main Line Canal: Wolverhampton to Wednesbury Oak Loop
Length: 5 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 5 mile linear walk from Wolverhampton to Bradley. It follows the route of the Old Main Line canal before turning onto the Wednesbury Oak Loop canal and comprises of two junctions, a tunnel and several points of interest. Some parts of the route are urbanised while others are more rural.

The walk commences in Wolverhampton and ends in Bradley. Wolverhampton has most if not all amenities, while Bradley is a residential area.

The walk takes place along well maintained towpaths, but note that parts may be muddy during/after wet weather. A torch is also highly recommended as the tunnel is unlit. Allow 2-2.5 hours to complete. The route is mostly flat but there are a couple of points where it will be necessary to ascend a bridge. 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.

The route is mostly green, with some areas offering access to local green spaces. However, as this is the Black Country, parts are quite urbanised and may be close to factories and/or housing estates. There is often a goodly amount of flora and fauna to see - keep your eyes peeled for plants like wild marjoram, flax and evening primrose and bird life like herons and Canada geese.

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 the Metro may be a quicker, more convenient option for returning to the start point.

Start parking: there are several pay and display car parks in Wolverhampton. The nearest to the start point is on Westbury Street, Wolverhampton. Approximate postcode: WV1 1JD

End parking: there is free parking available at Coronation Park, Wilkinson Avenue. Approximate postcode: WV14 8PS

By bus to start point: Wolverhampton bus station is served by buses from a variety of local areas. 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: The 530 bus stops in nearby Stirling Road, going from Rocket Pool to Wolverhampton. See arrivabus.co.uk for timetable. At the end of the walk, continue straight onto Bradley Lane, turn left, then take the immediate right.

By Metro from end point: the Metro trams depart Bradley Lane station heading to Wolverhampton every 15 minutes. See nxbus.co.uk/the-metro for timetable. At the end of the walk, continue straight onto Bradley Lane, turn left and walk down Bradley Lane for 600 yards, cross the bridge and the station is immediately on your left.

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Walk Sections

Start to Horseley Fields Junction
Start to Horseley Fields Junction

Start point: 52.5887 lat, -2.1226 long
End point: 52.5853 lat, -2.113 long

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

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: 52.5853 lat, -2.113 long
End point: 52.5802 lat, -2.112 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, -2.112 long
End point: 52.5529 lat, -2.0901 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 Highfields Colliery Coal Wharf
Deepfields Junction to Highfields Colliery Coal Wharf

Start point: 52.5529 lat, -2.0901 long
End point: 52.5572 lat, -2.0792 long

Your path continues on the left. Follow the towpath with the canal on your right. The canal was built by James Brindley at around 1770, as part of the Main Line. There are several bridges to negotiate under.

This section of the Old Main Line was, in its heyday, surrounded by collieries, factories and ironworks. It has been suggested that the views in the area, which would have been rather typical of the Black Country at the time, encouraged Tolkien's creation of Mordor. Most of the area is now surrounded by green spaces and residential areas, covering up the original views.

Several bridges along this route have intriguing names - look out for Pot House bridge in the next section. Blue Button Bridge no longer exists, but there is a pipe bridge in its place. Just after passing under Highfields Road Bridge, you may be able to see what remains of Highfield Road Arm, a now disused branch of the canal.

Shortly after this, what remains of Highfields Colliery Coal Wharf is visible on the far side of the canal as a wide, square basin. Coal was plentiful in this area and the wharf would have been a hive of activity.

Highfields Colliery Coal Wharf to End
Highfields Colliery Coal Wharf to End

Start point: 52.5572 lat, -2.0792 long
End point: 52.5531 lat, -2.0645 long

Continue on with the canal on your right.

Shortly after leaving the Wharf, you will happen across Capponfield Stop, a narrowing of the canal. Keep an eye out along here for wild plants and animals, as various varieties have been seen here.

Continue along the canal, joining the cream stone towpath after Banks's Bridge. Follow this towpath (eventually) to the main road.

Along this next section, keep your eyes peeled again for various types of plants. After going under Pot House Bridge, which takes its name from a pottery house which stood nearby, note the original brickwork of the towpath. As the bricks originally used in the path were often shiny, some rows were raised above the others to allow horses to grip properly.

The towpath rises over a now-disused bridge, which likely gave access to a disused arm or basin, then carries on parallel to the canal. The grassed area here offers views of the canal and is popular with geese and ducks. Follow the path through the trees until you arrive at the main road and the terminus 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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