Bumble Hole Walking Trail in Dudley, West Midlands

One of the best ways to connect with nature and discover the hidden gems of your community is by exploring local walking trails. And that is how we first visited Bumble Hole Local Nature Reserve in the Netherton area of Dudley. It is close to our home in the West Midlands and when we moved here, we were told that it was a great place for leisurely walks and picnics. Since that first visit a few years back, we have visited the nature reserve innumerable times and we enjoy it every time.

Dudley Canal in West Midlands

Aside from picnics, it is a great place for walking and the Bumble Hole Trail (around 3 miles / 2 hours) offers the best of nature and the Black Country's industrial past.

The Bumble Hole Walking Trail

The trail starts at the Bumble Hole Local Nature Reserve (which at one time used to be an active coal mining hotspot), continues along the Dudley No.2 Canal and ends at Brewin's Tunnel. It is a linear walk of around 3 miles and would roughly take 2 hours depending on your speed and the number of halts you make. The verdant landscape along the quiet canal pathways have to be enjoyed so take your time on the walk and don't rush it.

Bumble Hole Walking Trail Map


Some of the areas of interest along the walk are listed below.

We started the walk from the Windmill End Junction which is the point where the Dudley No.2 Canal and the Netherton Tunnel Approach converge. Back in the day, these canals were the main pathways for the transportation of materials and finished goods in and out of the Black Country.

If you are doing this walk for the first time or are new to the area, then you can spend some time exploring Bumble Hole Nature Reserve and the adjoining Warrens Hall Nature Reserve. These 2 nature reserves are spread over approximately 50 hectares and are a great example of the coal mining landscape of the Black Country.

To begin, look around the Windmill End and you will see an array of bridges, some of them cast iron. These were made by the Toll End Works at Tipton in Staffordshire and are a common feature around the canals of the Black Country.

Windmill End Junction

As you stand on any of the bridges you can also see the branching off of the waterways. It is a serene and calm spot today but 150 years ago, this would have been a bustling spot with boats going in all directions, smells and sounds from the industries, hoofbeats and the hubbub of working men.

From the Windmill End, make your way to Cobb's Engine House.

Cobb's Engine House

The Windmill End Pumping Station also known as Cobb's Engine House is a Grade II listed building. Located in Warren's Hall Nature Reserve, this engine house was built to pump out water from the mines. The coal mines in the surrounding areas were near a geological fault which meant that vast amounts of water entered the mines. This pumping station used to keep the mines dry by pumping the underground water into the canals.

Cobb's Engine House

Today, this building and the towering chimney act as a reminder of the coal mines and canalways.

From the pumping station, cross the bridge and head down to explore the Netherton Tunnel.

Netherton Tunnel

The southern mouth of the Netherton Tunnel is in Warrens Hall Park while the other end is near Dudley Road West.

This Netherton Tunnel is 2,768 m long and was the last canal tunnel to be built during the Canal Age in Britain. It is wide enough to allow 2-way working of narrowboats and has towpaths running through it on both sides. The walk through the Netherton Tunnel is an experience in itself and can be enjoyed if you have the correct footwear, a waterproof jacket and a torch.

It takes around 45 minutes to walk from the Southern portal to the Northern one, and makes for an interesting walk. For more information, read about our experience of walking through the Netherton Tunnel.

Netherton Tunnel

From the Netherton Tunnel, make your way back onto the walking trail and continue ahead. The path will take you past the site of the old Windmill End station. Some abutments along the pathway are all that remains of the old railway.

The path then takes you past the Boshboil Pool, a small pool also known as the 'Red Pool' because of an orange-tinted mound. The mound is nothing but a local mine's spoil tip with the orange colour due to chemical reactions between different elements and nature.

Bumble Hole Lake

Another interesting point on this walk is the Bumble Hole Lake, a former clay pit which is now a refuge for local wildlife.

Bumble Hole Lake

Harris' Boatyard

One of my favourite parts of this walking trail is the section called 'Harris' Boatyard'. At one time this section was home to a number of boat builders and canal carriers but today it is a quiet and colorful mooring spot. Check out the photos below.

Harris' Boatyard along Dudley Canal

Harris' Boatyard along Dudley Canal

Harris' Boatyard along Dudley Canal

From Harris' Boatyard make your way back to the canal side path along the Dudley Canal (you have to cross another of those distinctive black cast iron bridges) and continue on the path.

You will, after some time, reach a point from where you get a view of Wychbury Hill (in Worcestershire).

View of Wychbury Hill

Next up, you will arrive at the site of Noah Higley's Iron works. Noah Hingley was born in Rowley Regis. His company N. Hingley & Sons was a large scale manufacturer of anchors and chains and were the ones who made the anchors and chains for the Titanic.

Site of Iron Works along the Dudley Canal
A short walk and you will next arrive at the site of the Proving House where the anchors and chains were tested for their strength, quality and fitness for use.

Site of Proving House along the Dudley Canal

Continue along the path until you reach the Lodge Farm Reservoir.

Lodge Farm Reservoir

Also known as Netherton Reservoir, this reservoir was built in the late 1830s as a storage reservoir and used to pump water in and out of the canals as required. Today, it still does supply water to the canal system but is also used for fishing, watersports and is a great spot for bird watching.

Lodge Farm Reservoir (Netherton Reservoir)

Lodge Farm Reservoir (Netherton Reservoir)

A short walk, and you reach the end point of this walk - Brewin's Tunnel.

Brewin's Tunnel

The original tunnel at this location was built in the late 1830s but it was a bottleneck resulting in traffic woes on the waterways. So, it was widened to the present size during 1856-1858 and came to be called Brewin's Tunnel after Thomas Brewin, the Superintendent of the canal at the time.

Brewin's Tunnel

From this point, you can make your way back to Bumble Hole or continue ahead. We made our way back to Bumble Hole, enjoyed a good picnic and headed back home.

Planning your visit to Bumble Hole Nature Reserve

Bumble Hole Nature Reserve is free to access all day, every day. If you are driving over to the reserve, you can either park at Windmill End Car Park or at the Warrens Hall Nature Reserve Car Park.

There is a small visitor centre on site that is open infrequently. It houses some historical displays and also has a charity stall.

Refreshments and restroom facilities are available but with limited opening hours.

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