The Black Country Ring
The Black Country Ring is a loop of canals north from Birmingham through mainly Staffordshire countryside, so also known as the ‘Staffordshire Ring’. It can be cruised in a fairly busy week and covers a mixture of pleasant countryside and Midlands industrial sprawl, but always with plenty for all the crew to see and do. Less than a day is probably spent in the ‘Black Country’ between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, although even locals don’t agree where the borders are!
- Birmingham sits on a plateau about 200 feet higher than the surrounding countryside, so the Black Country Ring has over 70 locks to reach the Birmingham summit level.
- The New Main Line was built in the nineteenth century because of overcrowding on the original meandering route. Embankments, cuttings and tunnels were built to shorten routes and towpaths and lock flights improved to reduce congestion. But much of the Old Main Line, loops and feeder canals are still here to be explored if you have time.
- The canal sections are mainly rural, pleasant Staffordshire countryside from the outskirts of Wolverhampton past Stafford and Tamworth to the Birmingham suburbs.
- Birmingham is proud of its canals, canal towpaths and basins are usually well looked after and used and are an important feature of city life. City centre stores and facilities are easily accessible from the canals with good moorings. The Black Country Museum at Dudley is well worth a visit.