In the sunshine Merryhill Shopping centre looked far more welcoming but we resisted.
As we were leaving we visited the sanitary station where the showers were clean and tidy with copious amounts of hot water. The only thing that was missing was a tap and so we had to wait to fill our water tank until we reached Park Head Junction. We passed through Blowers Green Lock (the deepest on the Birmingham Canal Network at 12ft), and turned right towards Windmill End.
We moored at Windmill End as this is now an attractive grassed area with fishing ponds and footpaths through the parkland, and it is hard to imagine it once being a busy inland port surrounded by mines where coal, ironstone and clay were extracted, and boilers, blast furnaces and open cooking hearths and brick kilns stood by the canal, belching thick black smoke into the air.
We decided to stay here overnight so we could better explore the area. This afternoon we walked to Cobbs Engine House which was built in 1831 to drain the mines, but it is now just a shell that looks rather surprised…
This engine house sits beside the southern portal of the Netherton Tunnel. Netherton, once the centre for the manufacture of chains and anchors, is proud to boast that the Titanic’s anchor was built here.
The views from the hill above the tunnel look southwest towards Merryhill and south east towards Halesowen.
Tonight we plan to visit The Dry Dock Inn as our appetite has been whetted by our guide book that says they dispense real ale from a salvaged Runcorn six-plank hull set inside an imitation galleon and the walls are ornately tiled.
Everyone we’ve spoken to today has been really chatty, even the fishermen.