BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Cannock’

#365daysofbiking Medicinal

Saturday March 20th 2021 – I wasn’t feeling so good and headed out with a friend onto Cannock Chase. I was down in the dumps and not feeling the love.

I was expecting the Chase to be crowded and the paths to be terrible, like they currently are at Chasewater, but to my delight it was very quiet and the trails were no different to normal.

I found myself cheered by the cinematic, wide landscape and open skies, despite the dull day, and found what I usually do – the best cure for the blues is a damn good ride.

Coming off the Chase at Milford, we rode through Tixall at dusk, Haywood and around by Blithfield and Admaston home.

Of course, the highly medicinal burger from Milford’s legendary Wimpy helped too…

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#365daysofbiking Fire in the sky

October 26th – It had been a frustrating day. I needed to get some stuff from a store on the Orbital Centre in Cannock to get started on a job, but the rain was preventing me venturing onto the A5. Finally, as twilight fell around 5pm, the rain ceased.

On the new road that runs to the back of the orbital past Kingswood, the cloud cleared for the most majestic sunset I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

In 15 minutes, it had built from nothing, peaked, and ebbed into darkness.

Proof that even the worst days can contain real, unexpected and worthwhile beauty.

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#365daysofbiking It’s about time

March 17th – Finally a day with a more manageable wind, although it was still hard work, and an afternoon mostly without rain, although it caught me on my evening return. But a good ride, none the less.

Rapidly going stir crazy, I was pleased to note a more temperate day – although it was cold the sun shone frequently and the rain was mostly short sharp showers.

I headed up to Cannock Chase for a decent 45 miler, Pye Green and Brocton Field, the dropped into Sherbrooke Valley and on to Milford. From there, up to Tixall, a place I’ve not been in far too long a time. The architecture and atmosphere of this gorgeous place cannot be overstated, yet it’s mostly missed as it exists in the shadow of tourist magnet Shugborough, just down the road.

I continued to Hixon and skirted Blithfield Reservoir via Newton and Admaston, and passed back through Rugeley and Longone as darkness and rain fell.

Spring is really coming on a pace now, with plump spring lambs in the fields and green evident on the hedges, woods and fields; and on Brownhills Common the deer were clearly currently entering the moult and will soon look like threadbare old rugs that nobody cares for, despite being in excellent condition otherwise.

I’d love to know what a solar loo is though…

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#365daysofbiking Brutally wet in Cannock

March 6th – I had an important hospital appointment in Cannock, a place I rarely go. Cannock Hospital is actually lovely, and a model of the best of the NHS, but Cannock itself, I find a bit otherworldly. It’s nice enough, suffering like all post industrial town centres, with odd, lingering pointers to a more prosperous, or at least busy past.

The brutalist concrete relief mural featuring local industrial icons – pit heads, Caterpillar vehicles, Rugeley Power Station and GEC seems to have been transplanted from an earlier building or situation. It’s almost soviet.

Everyone seems to know of Walsall’s hippo, but who ever dares mention Cannock’s concrete elephant? How did that come to be? There’s a story there.

On this wet, grey and unpleasant day, I found Cannock solemn, but pleasant, and I shall come back – mainly to see if it wears it’s cloak of quiet melancholy on nice days, too.

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#365daysofbiking Finding what’s important:

October 28th – I was lost. The week had been stressful, Saturday had been a disaster in many ways and I felt beaten, down and hopeless.

I did what I always do at times like this – wrapped up warm, got on my bike and hit Cannock Chase.

I found rutting deer at Brocton Field; marvelled at the sunset over Sherbrook Valley, laughed at a retriever playing fetch in the water at Stepping Stones. I raced down to Seven Springs, listened to owls calling in Abrahams Valley and rode the night forest braking sharply for foxes at Brindles Heath.

Some days. the forest is all you really need, and it does just what you require. 

October 16th – Still, one can’t deny the beauty of the season. A far more positive ride out over the Chase, into that open, cinematic landscape where it’s hard not to feel utterly connected to the surroundings. The leaves and bracken are turning and it really is beautiful out there. 

The chilliness of the day also kept a lot of folk at home and it was a lot more peaceful than during the summer. That’s the first time I’ve seen Stepping Stones deserted for ages.

I came back over the Shugborough Estate and noted that while it’s changing custodians from Staffordshire County Council to the National Trust, there’s an awful end-of-days, deserted, unloved feel to the place. Sad, really, as autumn is the best time of year to see it.

The heron, fishing in the river by the Packhorse Bridge seemed oblivious, though…

October 15th – I passed through Churchbridge on the A5 between Cannock and Great Wyrley. This is a horrid, horrid landscape; there is no accommodation within it for pedestrians or cyclists, who do battle with it rather than inhabit it. The architecture and urban design is on a massive, non-human scale which dwarfs pre-existing houses and even the the electricity pylons.

This is not a place for those without a car. An utterly discriminatory piece of urban engineering. I hate it with a passion.

October 3rd – Bridgtown has my heart. I’m having a bit of a rough time right now, but had to nip to Great Wyrley on my way home, so took the chance to spin over to Sainsbury’s while I was there. That involved a shot through the backstreets of Bridgtown, the sleepy village-within-a-connurbation just off the A5. 

I adore the blue-diamond brick pavements, terraces and shops; it’s intimate, and proud street corner war memorial, and buried away behind the hideous modern hotel, wedged between terrace gable ends, a garden of remembrance I’d never noticed before.

It glowed in the golden hour, with ruby red rosehips, war mural and roses. It seems to have a rather proud caretaker, too. A lovely place.

January 17th – I went up onto the Chase. It wasn’t an inspiring afternoon – there was a good sky, but the light was poor and it seemed to be mostly on the point of raining. The forest was stunningly bleak and beautiful as it ever is in it’s winter jacket, but the going was made tough by the sodden ground. The trails and tracks were all muddy soup, and I was covered in it. 

All I want is a week or two without rain, with some bright days. I don’t care if it’s warm or cold – but snow would be nice. Just an end to this ceaseless damp.