June 8th – Returning from Rushall Junction up the canal to Brownhills is nice, but a bit of a slog – all the locks are uphill, so there’s lots of climbing, and the footpaths are awful. Not just poor, but really, really bad. Perseverance, however, is rewarded by great wildlife and lovely countryside vistas. House martins and kingfishers skimmed the limpid water; water lilies and fowl graced the surface. Orchids, foxgloves and rushes were in bloom and brightened the towpath and hedgerows. Here at Clayhanger, there is a carpet of sweet-scented honeysuckle from the towpath to the bog at Jones’ Pool.

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