There’s no towpath for your horse, and no engine in your boat, so how do you get your narrowboat through the long tunnel into the vast limestone caverns? You have to get out and push! Two men would lie across the narrowboat and ‘walk’ along the tunnel walls, pushing along tons of boat and its cargo. They called it ‘legging’; it was incredibly hard work, but it was the only way to reach the limestone mines which were opened in the 1700s. By the 1850s over 40,000 boats a year carried limestone from the mines, to be used in iron production.
Today you can undertake the journey in a little more comfort in a powered boat -although you’ll be able to see how legging was done – and the boat takes you into a vast underground complex of tunnels and caverns. The caverns are spectacular and well-lit. There is even a video projected onto the cavern walls showing the history of limestone mining.
Take a trip and see why the site was voted one of the Midland’s Seven Man-made Wonders. For a day out, combine a visit with the neighbouring Black Country Living Museum.