Leaving Birmingham via the Old Main Line, perhaps the keystone of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, the route branches off at Wolverhampton to explore the Wyrley & Essington Canal and Daw End Canal sections which, though sadly under-used, must rate as some of the prettiest waters to be found in the Midlands, before returning to the heart of Birmingham along the Tame Valley Canal and Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
Setting out from Birmingham’s much re-vamped water frontages of Gas Street Basin and Brindleyplace towards Wolverhampton the Old Main Line loops are the remnants of the earlier canal built by James Brindley, and later changes by Thomas Telford. They make for short but fascinating diversions around little-explored backwaters.
Rising through Smethwick Locks, traces of an earlier parallel flight can be seen to the right. The Engine Branch supplies water from a nearby reservoir; the arm taking its name from a pump engine that stood here. Near Spon Lane Junction the Stewart Aqueduct takes the Old Main Line over the New Main Line.