Wast Hills canal tunnel is exactly that – a canal tunnel that passes under some fields south of Brum, and an estate. I visited the north entrance after a walk down the canals after work one lazy Sunday a few weeks ago.
I decided to feature this tunnel on the blog because it’s hidden away, tucked behind some tower blocks near Cadbury Sixth Form College. There is only one tow path and it is narrow and doesn’t look to be well maintained (it isn't tarmacked and was quite squelchy in places!). The estate isn’t the most desirable part of Brum and in previous times I would’ve told everyone and anyone to avoid it! But despite all this, the area has a lot of history with regards to the canal network. To some people it’s just a canal tunnel in an estate; to others, me included, it’s valuable piece of Birmingham’s history and the connection between the canal network and the rise of industry.
The canal is on the Worcester and Birmingham canal, and this tunnel is quite long – some websites say 2726ft, some say 2493 metres – I think the latter figure is correct as a quick play with Google Earth tells me it is ~1.5miles.
Wast Hills Tunnel was built in 1976 and is the longest tunnel on the canal network. Quite a feat of engineering! The boats had to be legged through the tunnel as there is no internal towpath. Near to the entrance, but on the other side of the canal, is an information panel which I presume tells us more information, however, my zoom isn’t great so I couldn’t get a decent photo of it!
As an aside, somewhere on the Hawkesley estate is a pathway called something along the lines of ‘The Old Towpath’ I think! I used to see it on driving lessons around this area.
Here are some more photos:
More photos are up on Flickr.
The walk along the canal can be done as quickly as you like – to get to the Wast Hills tunnel you can get the 45 and I think the 49 to Foyle Road (just off the Redditch Road). The location of the tunnel is made evident by the white cottages that look distinctly out of place in this area! There is a steep slope down to the towpath near these cottages. There are no bins along this stretch of the canal. If you join the canal here, the walk takes you towards the King’s Norton Junction and the Guillotine Lock, and further on, Lifford.
This is what the land looks like immediately above the tunnel entrance:
(View from the bus stop)
(View from near the cottages after leaving the tow-path)