Selly Oak Park to the Lapal Tunnel
It has to be said that the exploration of the BCN's lost canals can often lead me to the dark and dingy back end of the Black Country but this walk turns out to be quite a delight, jumping from public park yo open space and linked by a nearly continous thread of an long lost canal. If ever there is a route worth walking its this one.
Footpath on the Lapal Canal Route
You dont need fancy maps apart from something to help you find the locations of the two tunnel portals which are not immediately apparent.
Lapal Canal western end - courtesy of Waterways Routes
The route out of Selly Oak Park is clear with the canal infilled but its bed remains as a path which proceeds in a straight line alongside Reservoir Road as far as Bourn Brook and then alongside Swinford Road to the now buried portal at California.
Somery Lane Bridge
Along the way the track runs under a tunnel of trees. Mostly its a pleasant walk but here and there it lapses into a tip with burnt matresses and abandoned motorcycles in the verges.
At the California end the lad starts to rise and the canal used to run in a deep cutting. Today Somery Lane Bridge remains the cutting filled to the brim and the line beyond built on by an industrial site.
Beyond Somery Lane
At the very end, where the tunnel dug under the hill, the portal was buried long ago. Today the entrance area is public open ground, built on a landfill site with just the stubs of old ventilation pipes to show its boundaries. There is just one telltale built fragment remaining - a wall which was a bridge parapet over the tunnel portal which isn't recognisable as such unless you know what to look for.
Bridge parapet over tunnel entrance
- Same place in the 1950's