Wild ducks, geese and swans patrol
the engineered waters of Bumble Hole,
where iron crafted bridges span
the ribbons of water made by man.
Explore the nearby portal
of Staffordshire blue bricks made
their indestructible credentials
have certainly made the grade.
This is the entrance to the Netherton Tunnel
which leads to a gothic underworld
a master builder's masterpiece
of subterranean transport unfurled.
When in the nineteenth century
it was finished and complete
it was a match for Telford's bridges
a marvellous engineering feat.
It was gas lit
and lit by electric lamp
but now is dank and spooky,
chilling, dark and damp.
Tiptoe along the towpath
and if you are feeling brave
paddle in the puddles
of this elongated cave.
bring refreshing rays of light
which transform to dripping water
in the depths of night.
Stalactites cling to the ceiling,
condensation to the wall,
it is a bizarre feeling
and one which you'll recall.
Your new perception of light
you will soon have to suspend
as your destination's aperture
expands towards the tunnel's end.
When you reach the northern portal
it is my firm belief
that you will feel a sense of achievement
and breathe a sigh of relief.
NB The Netherton Tunnel was built between December 31, 1855 and August 20, 1858.
Its width is 27 feet and its length 9,081 feet.
The construction cost of £302,000 was well above the £238,000 estimate prior to the start of the project.
Sadly nine men died and 18 were seriously injured during the construction.