BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Bentley Mill Way’

#365daysofbiking Failed dreams

Wednesday February 3rd 2021 –  It was a wet, cold and intense commute home – and I had to go somewhere I rarely do – Bentley Mill Way, which bisects old industrial land beside the M6 motorway, between Junction 10 and Darlaston.

This is a place where there’s a faded showcase cinema, some of the usual out of town outlet formula stores, a restaurant, and the derelict remnants of an odd attempt to create a night time economic centre here.

At one point there was a pub and a couple of night clubs, and the council were trying to expand it as a leisure area. But the nightclubs closed: When drunken revellers emerged into the cold night onto what was a remote, barren trading estate with no transport and little distraction, there was regular trouble. Development stalled. The project died.

So now the road is a hinterland, lined by scrub, factories, the remnants of the leisure and retail dream, and some dereliction. And now the burghers are trying to get industrial investment here, so have thrown money at improving the local road system, including the odd scheme of lowering the road beneath the 1700s canal aqueduct that limits large vehicle movements to the south.

The millions spent have so far yielded nothing, and the lights under this unusual aqueduct cycle most of the day unwatched by anyone.

But at night, it’s got that wet sheen and urban light thing going on, and it’s strangely captivating.

And there’s always this grimly fascinating, faint smell of failed dreams.

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#365daysofbiking Look closer

June 5th – On the wasteland, long unused at the junction of Bentley Mill Way and the Walsall Road at Darlaston, unexpected beauty.

Look once, and it’s a patch of unremarkable, but lush green scrub with gorse flower and a variety of trees – doing well despite last year’s grassfires here.

But look closer.

Lupins. Loads and loads of them. In the full colour range from creamy white to deep, deep purple.

I know this journal is all about the flowers at the moment, but with beauty such as this everyday just waiting to be found, how can it not be?

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#365daysofbiking Of course – gorse!

January 31st – on the way to work on a grim, cold morning, the familiar sight of gorse flowers on waste ground near Bentley Mill Way surprised and delighted me. I’m never really sure of the difference between gorse and broom, but the bright yellow flowers – in bloom before Christmas – seem to be around forever and smell pleasingly of coconut.

Such a lovely sight on a cold, grey day.

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July 10th – Popping from work into Walsall at lunchtime, it seemed the wasteland a the bottom of Bentley Mill Way had been the scene of a small scrub fire.

I first saw the lone fireman, tending the petrol powered pump extracting water from the canal, then saw the last of the smoke from the lads doing an excellent job, as ever.

These fires won’t harm the scrub much, it’ll soon grow back, but the commons, heaths and patches of wasteland right now are like tinder, and there will be many more such fires across the area if the fine weather continues.

And all the time, the good folk of the West Midlands, and indeed national Fire Service will be on hand to do their utmost to protect lives and property.

Thank you.

June 16th – Thanks to whoever tipped me off (I think it might have been Dave Fellows), but my complaint about the lack of handrails on the steps down from the canal to (the still closed)  Bentley Mill Way on the Darlaston/Pleck border were, it seems, premature. 

This week, a new rail has been installed – and jolly nice it looks too.

Have to say though, the steps – implicitly on a cycleway – are still awful to negotiate with a bike, but at least we have something to grab now.

It’s a shame the shallower, easier to negotiate access the other side has been removed…

April 21st – One of the joys of spring: the electric blue of speedwell, which lights up hedgerows and towpaths and other hinterlands. These beautiful little flowers are putting on a good show this year by the canal near Bentley Mill Way Aqueduct in Walsall.

Beautiful to see.

April 11th – I spotted him near the Bentley Mill Way Aqueduct, perched in a tree. I haven’t seen many herons of late, so it was nice to see this neat, healthy looking specimen looking for a meal. This was very near where the swans are currently nesting and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was hoping to bag a cygnet for lunch.

As is usual with these wonderful birds, I scared him and he flew 30 metres or so down the canal, landing well away from me.

I love these wonderful, eccentric-seeming birds.

March 1st – Another grey day, but it felt warmer. At dinner time, I had to venture back into Walsall from Darlaston and took the canal, which was a mistake: the works to relay the towpath have made sections not impassible but hard going.

Passing over the Bentley Mill Way Aqueduct, I looked down at the works below. Running three months late, the road has been closed and totally relaid – but the main bottleneck that is the narrowness of  the bridge I’m standing on – has not been touched. I’m at a loss here to understand how anything other than the footpath and possibly drainage has been improved.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the benefit in road schemes until they operate in practice. I hope that’s the case here.

November 10th – Passing the narrows on the canal between the M6 flyover and the Bentley Mill Way aqueduct on the Walsall-Darlaston border, I note someone is preparing to drain a stretch of canal – presumably for the works near the aforementioned aqueduct.

Theses just-delivered, fresh cut planks – stout, and carefully profiled – will be dropped into the slots in the narrows, sealed with plastic sheeting and a similar dam built on the other side of the worksite. The dammed section is then drained.

It’ll be interesting to see what work is done.