BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘canal’

#365daysofbiking Dark is the night

November 25th – Returning home, I took the canal from Walsall Wood, but the towpath was horribly waterlogged and muddy, so I headed back towards the Anchor Bridge to get to High Street.

I was struck by the almost ethereal appearance of the pub, it’s reflection in the canal and the effect of the mist gathering on the water.

It was very, very dark, but so very beautiful too.

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#365daysofbiking Nicely dovetailing

November 24th – On the way back from Chasewater to Brownhills on yet another dull, wet Sunday afternoon following a frankly disappointing winter fair at Chasewater, I wasn’t expecting to find much: But I found something fascinating that’s been staring me in the face for decades and I have never once noticed.

It’s fairly well known that when Abraham Darby bullt the Iron Bridge over the Severn at Coalbrookdale, iron was such a new material that many of the jointing techniques used were adapted from carpentery, as that was the understood skillset of the day.

I noticed for the first time today that the Ogley foorbridge over the cut off stub of the Lichfield branch of the Wyrley and Essington canal – recently refurbished – holds it’s guard sides together with a neat, well fitted dovetail joint in cast iron.

The bridge, dating from around 1850 is a listed structure, and I’m beginning to see why. The rails are constructed in two half-crescents with a dovetail centrally, held rigid by a bolted mating sleeve.

It’s utterly beautiful and means the bridge is thoroughly rigid.

I only noticed due to the rust bleed into the ageing paint.

You can always find something, no matter how grim the weather…

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#365daysofbiking Level pegging

November 24th – At some point between last week and this, Chasewater’s level increased and it overtopped the spillway weir, but now is sits a couple of inches below this, yet the canal valve remains closed off. How could it be so?

I remembered there is a small valve-controlled weir bypass sluice in the back of the 9-Foot embankment, and for the first time ever, it was open. I’m not altogether clear why.

Releasing water into the full canal would mean loading the Ford Brook/Tame waterway through Walsall and Birmingham via the overflow system, so releasing to the spillway would mean the water goes via the crane brook to meet the Tame near Tamworth, which would be better. I suppose using the sluice allows the dropping of the level of the main reservoir in a much more controlled fashion and creates buffer space if necessary.

It’s very unusual and I don’t think I’ve seen this approach in the seven years since Chasewater was refilled.

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#365daysofbiking Little lights alive

November 22nd – Another horribly wet day. I returned to Brownhills at dusk and the whole town was sodden and grey, but for one thing: The Christmas lights had gone up, and this year they’re rather lovely, I have to say.

In fact, I did notice a light and reflection theme in my photos for the journey home which was unintentional but clearly on my mind.

Oh, for a few dry days though…

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#365daysofbiking Unkind cuts

November 17th – The Canal and River Trust are still doing their best to piss me off, their talent for which is so prodigious I doubt they actually have to try.

After grumbling a couple of weeks ago at pointless towpath grass cutting up on the Anglesey Branch on the way to Chasewater, I see they’ve been up on the canal through Brownhills too.

They are cutting grass that the hungry waterfowl would have grazed overwinter. a colony of earthstar fungus has been destroyed. Grass mulch now is all over the paths, bunging up the bike and folk’s shoes. Parts of the grass that were formerly lush and verdant are now a cropped mud bath.

Why? Who the hell cuts grass in winter? This is sheer, pointless, piss-poor grounds management, and an utter waste of desperately needed cash.

Please stop!

A canal towpath is a wild place. That’s it’s charm – a rough cut twice a year would be more than enough.

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#365daysofbiking Getting the bird

November 17th – Another rain sodden day. I know this is getting repetitive if you read these posts in series, but this is seriously what life here is like at the moment. It’s been so wet for weeks now that I’ve stopped grumbling at having to go out in it; it’s just a sort of a new normal.

The state of this is weird.

Down in Brownhills on a shopping trip, a wander over to the canalised for a loop over to Walsall Wood. The birds here – gulls, mallards, swans, geese and more – didn’t seem as tired of the rain as me, but they did seem a bit fractious. Maybe they were missing human feeding, which on a normal Sunday would be almost constant here.

I notice the goose with the white feathers on it’s head is still around. It’ll be interesting to track it over the winter, and see if it mates or if the colour discrepancy renders it an outsider…

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#365daysofbiking Milling it over

November 7th – A better day than the previous, but only really for being shorter, sadly. I had business in Chasetown so left work while it was still light and headed up there on the canal passing through Brownhills on the way.

It rained lightly most of the time. This weather is getting beyond a joke now.

Approaching the old steam mill at Ogley Hay, Brownhills, the view is lovely at the moment, even for the very poor weather and light. With the bracken and leaves turning, the hedgerows and woods are a beautiful mixture of burnt yellows and reds, with a smattering of green to boot.

The mill, of course, is now private flats and rather splendid; and it of course gave it’s name to the nearby Millfield school, which also backs onto the canal. One mystery, though: The former narrowboat the school had as an outdoor classroom – Tucana – seems to have been missing two or three weeks now.

It has no engine, so it must have been towed somewhere, to do something…

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#365daysofbiking Rising above the noise

November 6th – A late night and very long day at work, followed by an awful commute in steady drizzle. I felt low, tired and mentally exhausted.

Stopping on Silver Street canal bridge to take photos of the damp, snoozing town, I reflected on how much better it was here now with the new homes rather than unused, empty space.

Sadly the photos I took are awfully noisy and the camera mode wasn’t best for the subject. But they’ll have to do: The day was largely about unwanted noise, and this grainy images seem quite fitting.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

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#365daysofbiking Staying focused

November 5th – On the way to work I hit the canal between Brownhills and the Black Cock Bridge, and through the copse alongside the towpath, I could see a group of female red deer in the field between me and Clayhanger.

Sadly, there were just too many trees in the way and the deer were remarkably nervous today, so my attempts to  focus on them beyond the trees were thwarted.

I must get faster at that. Far too ham fisted at the moment.

Also fascinated by the zoom compression of the houses in the background, which aren’t anywhere near as close as that in real life.

Nice to see the ladies about though…

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