Wolverhampton Walks: The Wyrley and Essington Canal.
Hands Up. Who has never walked part of the canal before? Or thinks canals are dirty and should be steered clear of? I will admit, I thought both of these things previous to lockdown conditions. As it turns out, the canal is a very pleasant place to walk and can produce wonderful things to look at, talk about and even learn. Who knows what a sluice is?! I do now!
Where To Get On
The Wyrley and Essington canal is 16.5 miles long and runs from Wolverhampton to the collieries at Wyrley Bank and Essington. There are no locks in this section, but the walk itself is very pleasant.
We got on the canal at Bentley Bridge and walked with Wolverhampton town centre behind us. There are many access points to get on to a canal. Usually every bridge has a way up and down on to the path. In the built up parts, it is slightly uninspiring. There are piles of litter and graffiti on the bridges, but please don’t let that put you off. The more you walk, the better it will become.
Rough Wood Country Park
One thing I like about walking along the canal is there’s no chance of getting lost! You walk until you don’t feel like walking any more, then turn around and come back. We decided to visit Rough Wood Country Park which sits towards the Walsall end of the canal.
The route from Wednesfield to Rough Wood is approximately 2.5 miles, and if you stop to have a wander around, which I would recommend, it’ll add more on to your total. The woods are great to have a picnic in, or just to stop and rest. As with most routes around the West Midlands, this is part of the Monarch Way. A 625 mile escape route, taken by King Charles II, as he fled from Worcester to Brighton.
Watch for Bikes
Cyclists tend to favour canal paths, so watch out for those without a bell. Most passers-by are friendly and there are opportunities to move out of the way at certain points. The tow path is quite wide in parts so it’s not all single file along the way.
There are so many varieties of wildlife that live in and around the canal. We saw bountiful types of fish; including pike, roach and stickleback. We saw herons, swans, ducks and geese. Birds flew over and around us. The kids spoke excitedly every time a new species of bird was spotted, or when an insect happened to buzz past us. The different walking conditions certainly peaked their interest for a while and we also kept a look out for the odd items in the canal. Unfortunately, there are vulgar people who decide to throw mattresses and shopping trolleys off the bridges. Yes, canals aren’t the cleanest in parts, but we can look beyond that.
The French Riviera
As we head towards Walsall, the canal becomes cleaner, the path quieter and the air seems better. We aren’t quite as close to civilisation; and it’s nice. Houses line the banks across from the tow path and you can see where people have accommodated the canal in their back gardens. Some have fishing platforms, others make it seem as they are on the French riviera! It’s certainly a new kind of walk for us, and the kids are amused by the things they have seen along the way.
Canal walks take you away from the city while keeping you close to home. They are rich in history and wildlife, which is evident from the contrasting bridge types. They are traffic free and yet you can travel from town to town in a minimum amount of miles.
Wolverhampton Walks: The Wyrley and Essington Canal. A fantastic doorstep adventure with a low impact on the environment.
What have you discovered on your canal adventures?