BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘aqueduct’

#365daysofbiking Step on up

January 31st – Wearily plodding to Chasewater – not easy in the post-hospital condition in which I found myself – I stopped to note that the new steps between the McLean Way – the former rail line through Brownhills and the canal at the Newtown Viaduct were now complete, and had a lady feeling channel just like the ones at Bullows Road.

The steps are gorgeous and very well thought out, as I’ve come to expect from this volunteer, mainly OAP led project.

I never thought I’d see this come to pass but I’m so glad it has. My thanks and support go out to all involved.

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#365daysofbiking Beginning steps

January 12th – A better day to complete the errands I utterly failed at the day before.

I noted that on the Anglesey Branch Canal where it crosses the South Staffordshire Railway via an elegant Victorian cast iron trough aqueduct, contractors working for Back the Track had started to build a much needed and welcome stairway between the canal towpath and the cycle and walking route below – the McLean Way.

I’m glad I’m not building that. It looks like hard, precarious work. It also occurred that there’s no easy access to get the hardcore to the site, either.

My best wishes to the people building these steps, and thanks to the folk from Back the Track for dedicating so much time and effort to make things better for us all.

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#365daysofbiking Listed

January 5th – I went for a spin up the McLean Way – the rail to trail cycleway that Brian Stringer and Back the Track have been reclaiming on the old South Staffordshire Railway line that runs through Brownhills.

It’s a bit muddy in places but easily rideable on a mountain or off-road bike. The mud is shallow, and sits mostly as a 3 inch layer on top a solid ballast base, so once you cut into in, it rides well.

On the whole it’s brilliant, it really is and a credit to all involved.

This aqueduct over the former railway conducts the Anglesey Branch Canal from it’s terminal feeder point at Chasewater to Ogley Junction. The bridge is a nationally listed building, considered almost unique in construction and style.

It’s in a sorry state, and I think the Canal and River Trust will have to do a fair bit of maintenance before too long.

But it’s a beautiful thing, and incredibly well thought out.

Unusual to see if from underneath.

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#365daysofbiking What lies beneath

July 7th – It was indeed a better day. The sun was out, the wind had subsided as had the discomfort in my stomach.

I headed out on the canal to Wolverhampton, taking a slow but enjoyable potter down the mainline canal to Birmingham. From there to Aston, where I left the canal and got on a train back to Shenstone.

I noted the Dudley Tourist Board had been working hard to improve it’s customer service at Coseley Tunnel, where I doubt I’ll ever negotiate the southern portal steps with a bike again, although it was certainly an adventure.

Calling at the heavily secured, ghostly Rattlechain Pool, the lagoon concealing many thousands of tonnes of the worst toxic waste was a strange experience: It looks so serene and peaceful, yet the pool – itself just a cap to the material beneath, separated by a thick impermeable skin – is securely fenced and covered by many cameras.

It’s a ghostly and controversial place.

Under the M5 viaduct and Telford’s magnificent Engine Arm aqueduct, the canal is a peaceful, gentle and serene refuge from the mad urbanity above, and the street art is, as ever, fascinating.

Passing on the canal down the Snow Hill flight, I see the view is a matter of opinion. But why? What’s that all about?

A great restorative ride.

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#365daysofbiking When the shit goes down

June 25th – I say, phantom poo flinger – you, yes you scummy git – stop it forthwith.

People are working hard to clear the rail line below the Anglesey Branch Canal aqueduct as a walking and cycling trail for all the public to use.

Volunteers are fed up with cleaning up after you.

More power to them, it’s a filthy habit and you should be ashamed.

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#365daysofbiking Stopping the line

May 19th – A fairly short ride out on a grey but warm Sunday ffternoon took me to the incredibly busy Strawberry Cabin cafe in Hints for excellent tea and cake, and from there I dropped down to Fazeley on the old A5, and went to check out the old WW2 pillbox on the aqueduct over the Tame.

Pillboxes protecting bridges on the River Tame and Trent are a familiar sight even now, and they lie in various states of decay, little more than a historical curiosity one passes by without much thought – but this one has always fascinated me.

The stop line it formed part of was envisioned to confront the possible nazi invasion at the crossing points of the river, which would have formed a natural pinch point. So this could have been a vital component in the defence of the Realm.

Now it’s just a curious anachronism in a really sleepy, beautiful waterside spot. Thank heavens it was never needed.

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#365daysofbiking Swanning around

August 28th – Oh hello guys, not seen you for a while.

Just at Bentley Mill Way aqueduct, the swan family seem to come from Moxley were determinedly heading towards Walsall – mum dad and five cygnets, now nearing adulthood. They were in a perfect line and a wonderful thing to see,

It’s nice to see another generation maturing.

June 10th – On the previous Friday, I got the taste for Birmingham and it’s canals again, so I headed up to Wolverhampton on the cut and back down the old line through Tipton into the city centre. 

As ever, the sheer vibrancy of this environment – that many would condemn as ugly – was stunning. From the wildlife to the flowers, the discarded dreams in the scrapyard, the geese and herons and all in-between were a joy. I love the seamless continuity of the upper side of the Engine Arm Aqueduct, although you’d be hard pressed to realise the glamorous structure below.

Much of the main line I rode had been resurfaced – and although it needs sweeping badly due to loose gravel – the riding is very good indeed.

Had to smile at the gull that looked like it was concealing a weapon.

A fantastic urban ride. The weather really is spoiling me at the moment.

July 9th – In a canalside garden next to the aqueduct at Newtown, Brownhills a small black cat was watching me intently.

I don’t think it’s very old. It wasn’t by any means a bruiser, but it did look so very black.

A lovely inquisitive puss that clearly takes their security duties very seriously indeed.