BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Back the Track’

#365daysofbiking A thoroughly good job

March 2nd – I had to be at an appointment in Brownhills in the morning and left for work in bright sunlight. Passing down cycle route 5 from Engine Lane to the old cement works bridge, I noticed the folk from Back the Track had done an excellent job of edging and cleaning the trail, making it much nicer to ride.

I’m told the council will now maintain this properly and the volunteers will not have to – as it should have been when first laid in 1998.

This is a fine job on a very under appreciated asset to our town.

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#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 Omnidiretional signals


January 19th – Some things are just nice.

I’m a big fan of Back the Track – the group of, it has to be said, mostly pensioners and older folk who have been determinedly converting the old South Staffordshire Railway trackbed through Brownhills into a cycling and walking route for all to enjoy.

This week they installed the new bench at the base of the signalpost by Clayhanger Marsh. The bench was always a personal dream of Brian Stringer, the group’s instigator and leader. Barry Roberts built the bench in his garage from materials he had, begged and were donated, and now it’s in place for all the trail users to ponder the great views on.

The McLean Way (MW) logo is made cleverly from track clips found discarded in the ballast of the old line.

What’s really neat is the backrest flips over, so you can comfortably sit facing the direction you choose.

It’s a lovely, creative and novel thing and I thank Barry and of course, all of Back the Track for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that there’s no road access to where the bench is sited, so those old guys must have manhandled the bench to it’s position. No mean feat.

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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 Step right up

January 1st – Happy new year you guys!

A short spin out and up the McLean Way – the former South Staffordshire Railway line that’s gradually being converted to a walking and cycle route, extending the current one from Pelsall to Newtown, Brownhills.

Back the Track, the group doing the work entirely under their own volition have sought funding for gradual improvements, and working with Sustrans and others, a new set of steps with a handy-dandy cycle wheeling channel is now nearly complete at Bullows Road, just off the Pelsall Road, making accessing the trail much, much easier for walkers and cyclists.

My compliments to the team – it’s looking great thank you!

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#365daysofbiking Home signal

September 21st – A rough day. I’d been hoping to make it to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Huddlesford Heritage Gathering, the biannual canal event near Lichfield, but had to work instead. It had been a nice day and Sunday, when I was free, promised to be awful. I was really low.

Arriving home late, I slipped out for a spin up the old rail line that used to run through Brownhills on it’s way from Walsall to Lichfield, now a lovely walking and cycling trail restored by volunteers and christened the McClean Way.

There’s now a bench been created looking out over Clayhanger Marsh by the restored signal post, and I took advantage of it to feel sorry for myself a little. But the view, the peace, the sight of foxes and herons soon cheered me up.

This is home, and a landscape I love and feel part of. I can’t be downhearted in it for long.

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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 Primrose and proper

April 14th – Spotted on a morning errand, these primroses and scattered down the bank of the McClean Way, the cycle and walking route on the former South Staffordshire railway line through the heart of Brownhills, just below the Miner Island.

I remember as a child watching trains thunder through here full of coal, oil or cars. Now, the lines are lifted and after 30 years of decay, the wonderful Back the Track group led by human dynamo Brian Stringer have done an excellent job of reclaiming the permanent way for public use – and their hard work continues.

These primroses don’t seem much, but they’re a huge achievement. Take a bow, folks.

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#365daysofbiking A surprise in the dark

January 13th – A windy day on which I hunkered down, slipping out for a circuit of the town after dark, hoping the wind had subsided. It hadn’t.

On the cycleway between Engine Lane and the Slough (Old Cement Works) bridge, I encountered a fallen tree and was glad for my powerful front light. It was passable, but posed a danger to others, so I posted this pic on Facebook as a warning.

To my delight and huge gratitude, volunteers from Sustrans and Back the Track saw the picture, and went out and cleared it away the very next morning. You can read the story here.

Fantastic service to the community. Thanks so much.

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#365daysofbiking The trains don’t run here anymore:

September 7th – The weather was still grey and unpleasant, cold with a sharpening wind and summer seemed a long way behind me. But I felt like a bit of an explore on the way home so I hopped up onto the old South Staffordshire Railway that carried freight when I was a kid.

Carefully restored and maintained by Back the Track as a cycling and walking greenway, it’s peaceful up there and as Vivian Stanshall put it, you’re nestling in green nowhere.

There are good views of the canal, Clayhanger Marsh and Ryders Mere, and plenty of birds and wildlife to spot.

It’s also home to one of the most mournful monuments to a lost railway I know: The solitary remaining signal post of Norton Junction.

Still, the ladder makes a great vantage point for photographing the marsh…