Following on from my post about the Black Country Living Museum, the canal trips can be accessed by the bottom entrance of the museum, a path leading from next to the pub and to the canal side. Here you will find picnic places, shops to buy drinks and food etc, and at the end a small shop for the Dudley Canal Trust. The trust operates three trips of varying lengths: 45 minutes, 2 hours and 6 hours. Most people visiting the Black Country Museum will opt for the 45 minute trip, like my family and I did. More information about trips and prices can be found here.
Hard hats at the ready, you are going to need them. Luckily, they are provided free of charge. For 45 minutes you get to experience the following:
Marvel at the impressive limestone caverns carved by man to gain access to the raw materials that changed our world forever.
Relax with a stunning video show in Little Tess Cavern – explaining how the limestone was originally formed and burst through from the earth’s crust. Learn how the fossilised remains of small creatures and plants – now clearly visible in Castle Mill’s coral reef – once lay under the sea bed.
See the amazing lifelike reconstructions in Hurst Cavern – with mannequins depicting how miners worked in the tunnels during the 18th century. Delight in the incredible music and light show in the Singing Cavern.
Discover the traditional art of ‘legging’ in the tunnels.
It?s all yours to enjoy in only 45 minutes.
Except from Dudley Canal Trust website
Limestone, where I live, it is everywhere so I spotted this type of rock easily even in its carved form. Indiustrial age access to coal by any means possible including tunnelling through limestone to create a canal. If you are claustrophic, I would avoid this trip as the tunnel walls close in around you as you enter, putting your hand out and you could touch the walls and even the roof in some places. Depending on the time of year, keep an eye out of baby bats, a treat I was lucky enough to see.
As the caverns open up (say a brief ‘Hello’ to sunlight before it disappears again), you are treated to a video explaning the history the canals from pre-creation, the time of their creation, the use of them from past to present. I don’t know how they keep all the electrical equipment dry.. yes, this was my first thought when I realised what was happening, amazing me for some time.
When the video ends, it is time to turn around and come back the way you came but not all with the help of an engine. The traditional art of ‘legging’ involves your legs, of course! 2 volunteers please!! Both volunteers have to lay down on planks in the centre of the boat, heads touching but facing opposite directions and legs on the walls (Don’t worry, they talk you through it). Now imagine that rather than a boat load of people, the boat contains tons and tons of coal…, now with one person walking on the walls in one direction, the other walking in the other, no engine on, move the canal boat down the tunnel passage. Sounds easy? Not so much… once you get rhythm, you are as good as gold, but it is a bit tricky. Once you have mastered that, can you do it as speed?
I really enjoyed this side-trip to the Black Country Living Museum, so if you have the time and the additional spending money, give it a try.