|Windmill End – as delightful as its name suggests|
The Fountain is a proper local pub, small, unassuming, old fashioned and all the better for it. Two big plates of decent pub grub for £12 and a line of nicely kept real ales which the landlady let us sample before choosing – what's not to like?
But today it was time to move on even though the weather did its best to encourage us to stay put. The dismal rain stopped at lunchtime so we unmoored and headed towards the New Main Line. As I said last time, Tipton is on the junction of Old and New canals and a five minute walk gets you from to the other. To get there by boat involved descending the three Factory Locks and took over half an hour!
|Descending Factory Locks, once paired as the disused pounds reveal|
After them, and passing the other end of Tipton, we headed half a mile down the canal before turning right onto the short leg leading to Netherton Tunnel – passing under the aqueduct carrying the Old Main Line on our way.
|Going under the Old Main Line with Netherton in the distance|
|Meeting an oncoming boat in the middle of the quietest tunnel in the system|
In its heyday, Netherton must have been crowded with boats; now it must be the quietest big tunnel on the system – which of course meant that we met our only moving boat of the day in the middle of it!
|Emerging into the sun and into a new set of waterways|
Tonight we are in one of the prettiest spots imaginable, Windmill End, and as delightful as its name suggests. Wide mown areas of parkland, lined by yellow daffodils and edged by trees are all around and black and white cast iron bridges criss-cross a maze of canals and canal arms.
Hard to believe that the streets of urban Dudley are only yards away but they are, below us on our embankment. And harder still to believe that this whole area was once a smoking, black mass of coal mines and factories.