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Old Main Line Canal to Walsall Canal: Tipton to Gospel Oak Junction

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Old Main Line Canal to Walsall Canal: Tipton to Gospel Oak Junction
Author: Sammy Benbow, Published: 26 Sep 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
West Midlands, Tipton
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Old Main Line Canal to Walsall Canal: Tipton to Gospel Oak Junction
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 trail from Owen Street Bridge in Tipton, to Gospel Oak Junction on the Walsall Canal, in Wednesbury. Allow 1.5-2 hours to complete. The trail follows the route of the Old Main Line to Pudding Green Junction, before turning left and following the line of the Walsall Canal to Gospel Oak Junction.

The route itself is along a canal towpath. There are no steps or stiles, but there are a couple of bridges to navigate. There are also several radar key scheme gates. The route starts in Tipton which has a small shopping centre and ends near to Wednesbury.

The route offers views of the local area, some of which are urbanised while others are more rural. There are several canal junctions along the route and points of historical interest.

As a linear walk you have two choices for getting there: either to leave a car at each end, or to use local buses/trains/Metro.

By car to start point: The nearest parking is a free car park off Albion Street, Tipton. Approximate postcode: DY4 8QG. Cross the bridge and turn left by the entrance to the station.

By bus to start point: There are several buses that depart Dudley bus station for Tipton Owen Street. Stop ID: nwmdmgwa

By train to start point: Tipton train station is adjacent to the start point.

By car from end point: there is a small amount of residential parking nearby. Bannister Road is closest to the end point. To get here from the end point, walk back to the bridge and turn left. Walk a couple of hundred yards with the houses on your right. It is quite near to the A41 Black Country New Road. Approximate postcode: WS10 7LY

By bus from end point: The 311/313 buses run from nearby Leabrook Road, visiting Walsall, Wednesbury, Tipton and Dudley. Stop ID: nwmtjpwp or nwmtjpwm

Wednesbury Parkway Metro station is also quite nearby, however this will not visit Tipton.

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Walk Sections

Start to Dudley Canal
Start to Dudley Canal

Start point: 52.5303 lat, -2.0661 long
End point: 52.5224 lat, -2.0431 long

Access the canal towpath via the entrance adjacent to the railway station. Go down the slope then turn back under the bridge. Follow the towpath under Tipton Station Bridge, keeping the canal on your right. There are two bridges here that the towpath crosses, with a boat yard, known as "Caggy's", on the left. Go under the third bridge and continue along.

This section of the canal was redeveloped in 1809 to add the now-removed Toll End and Tipton Green branches. These canals joined the Walsall Canal to the Main line. Sadly, they were infilled during the 1970s.

Continue along over Puppy Green Aqueduct, Dudley Port Station Aqueduct and Ryland Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the A461. The rusty metal bridge that can be seen on the other side of the canal is Rattlechain Bridge, a towpath bridge which would have originally allowed canal access to Dixon's Basin. Not long after this, you will arrive at Dudley Port Junction, with two black and white roving bridges. Notice the BCN-style (Birmingham Canal Network) waymarker to the left of the towpath.

Dudley Canal to Pudding Green Junction
Dudley Canal to Pudding Green Junction

Start point: 52.5224 lat, -2.0431 long
End point: 52.5141 lat, -2.0167 long

Continue straight, following the towpath underneath the bridge. Although it is not visible from this vantage point, Cooper's Aqueduct takes the canal over the course of the River Tame, which flows through scrub land on the far side of the canal.

The metal bridge seen on the far side of the canal, after a short distance, once allowed access to Rattlechain Basin. This site has a somewhat controversial history, as chemical waste was apparently often dumped here in "Rattlechain Lagoon", as late as the 1970s. The name "Rattlechain" was a term used to describe two pit shafts being managed by a single steam engine. Continue along.

The concrete oval structure in the middle of the canal is Dunkirk Stop Island, a toll stop where boats would be measured and charged a toll based on the amount of cargo they were carrying. Continue on past Albion Junction which leads to the Gower Branch canal, noting the BCN-style waymarker at the junction. Go under three bridges, then cross the fourth over the Wednesbury Old Canal at Pudding Green Junction.

Pudding Green Junction to Ryders Green Junction
Pudding Green Junction to Ryders Green Junction

Start point: 52.5141 lat, -2.0167 long
End point: 52.5228 lat, -2.0221 long

The Wednesbury Old Canal runs for just over a mile before branching off at Ryders Green. Your path continues on the left at the end of the bridge. Follow the towpath with the canal on your left. Go under Izon Bridge and continue on.

This canal, short though it may be, is the oldest on the Birmingham Canal Network. It was built to support the productive coal mines found in the area, but much of the basins and arms that gave access to the local area have been lost. The remains of one can be seen in the form of brickwork at the side of the canal a short distance on.

Cross the canal at Izon roving bridge. A roving bridge was used to allow a horse to cross the canal without unhooking from the boat. In this instance, the horse would be to the right of the canal, pulling the boat along the channel. The boat would stop just before the bridge, while the horse would ascend and then descend the other side, before going under the bridge and continuing on to the left of the canal. Your path follows the same route.

Continue on, going underneath the attractive two-tone grey Belper Bridge. Shortly after this, you will come to Ryders Green Junction. Again, note the waymarker on the left, by the gate. The Wednesbury Old Canal diverges to the right here, while your path continues straight on, adjacent to the locks.

Ryders Green Junction to Tame Valley Junction
Ryders Green Junction to Tame Valley Junction

Start point: 52.5228 lat, -2.0221 long
End point: 52.54 lat, -2.0357 long

Continue on, keeping the canal on your right. The canal descends to the 403' level via a flight of 8 locks, known as the Ryders Green flight. This canal was opened in the 1780s and was created in several sections.

Follow the towpath under several bridges and eventually you will find the eighth lock. This lock is unusual in that it has a drop of only three feet, a signifier that it was created relatively early in the history of the Birmingham Canal Networks. Later engineers would have designed the entire flight to have a steady fall, but this would have involved the use of embankments and cuttings. This was something the early engineers avoided whenever possible, due to the amount of work and costs involved.

The Haines Branch was originally located immediately after lock 8, but has since been filled in. The next bridge that you go under once carried a railway to Dudley Port, but this is now disused. Shortly after Hempole Bridge, the towpath crosses a bridge. This was once the junction with the Danks Branch. Slightly further along, after Moors Mill Lane bridge, some green space can be seen through the trees. This was once the site of the Toll End canal, which linked with the Main Line at Tipton.

Continue over the Lower Ocker Hill branch, which will often have various boats to be seen, until you arrive at the two Tame Valley Junction turnover bridges.

Tame Valley Junction to End
Tame Valley Junction to End

Start point: 52.54 lat, -2.0357 long
End point: 52.5494 lat, -2.0366 long

The canal continues on your right. Go under Doe Bank Bridge, over an unnamed bridge, under Lea Brook Bridge and then cross Wiggins Mill footbridge. Turn left at the end of the bridge and continue on for a short distance.

You will shortly arrive at Gospel Oak Branch Junction. At the junction, standing with the canal in front of you, you can see the disused Gospel Oak Branch. Behind you is the derelict Leabrook Basin.

This is the end 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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