#365daysofbiking Warm rain and what lies beneath:
September 22nd – Thanks to a reminder from the most excellent Stymaster, I got to attend the Tipton Canal and Community Festival, all be it on a really wet, rainy dray. The weather notwithstanding, I had an excellent time, as can be seen on my main blog here.
Having ridden to Tipton from home in the rain, I decided to carry on down the canal into Birmingham following the old mainline into Birmingham.
This time of year, the Galton Cutting is gorgeous, and it’ll be even better when the leaves really start to turn.
The huge maze of scaffold under the M5 viaduct at Oldbury is hugely impressive from underneath, too. I wonder how many delayed, queueing motorists above know the complexity of what lies underneath them?
#365daysofbiking Chips with that?
September 10th – I notice the Canal and River Trust have contractors out at the moment cutting back canalside tree and shrub overgrowth, which is a job that’s been ongoing locally most of the summer.
Here at Walsall Wood they’ve been quite ruthless in removing the lower beaches of trees and scrub over what is a very wide canal, so the growth would not have impeded the passage of boat traffic.
It has, however, removed cover for kingfishers, waterfowl and the mamals that live and hunt alone the bank. Periodically, piles of wood chips will be good for bugs I suppose.
Concerning, but I suppose it’s necessary.
September 28th – My quest for fly agaric – the red and white spotted toadstool of folklore and fairytale – was satisfied today when I visited a familiar patch that unexpectedly exists between the Darlaston Road and canal in Walsall.
This edge land, under self-seeded silver birches at the top of the cutting, is host to the largest colony of these toadstools I’ve ever seen; there must be at least a hundred of them in various stages of life.
This is a remarkable find and confirms my suspicion that I’ve largely missed the season this year – they seem to have peaked earlier this year, but this spot which is quite hard to climb to contains some of the best, most perfect examples of the fungi I’ve ever seen.
All in one of the most built-up, urban patches of Walsall.
October 11th – Oh boy. Not more that a few days ago, I was bemoaning the lack of decent fungus this year, and was stunned to find a sing fly agaric toadstool in the usual spot near Chasewater, then this.
I was shotting along the canal through Pleck of all places, and as I rode a red flash on top of the canal cutting embankment caught my eye. Scrambling up there to investigate, I saw found one of the best crops of these cute red and white spotted fungi I’ve ever seen.
Large, profuse and very beautiful, these are in the heart of formerly industrial, urban Walsall, in a place few humans would ever think to go. A really wonderful find.
November 22nd – Time for a warning to local cyclists again.
The hedges hat (at last!) been flailed again from Anchor Bridge to Chasewater along the canal. The towpath is littered with sharp hawthorns and will puncture thinner tyres.
Probably a route best avoided for a week or two until the weather washes them away.
4th October – And finally, watch out if you’re riding along the canal between Chasewater and Brownhills. The hedge between Home Farm and the towpath has been flailed, and there are thorns all over it. As it was I passed a couple of people repairing punctures, so if you’ve not got tough tyres, I’d give the route a miss for a week or two.
March 19th – I rode the canal down through south Walsall, through Tower Hill and down into Birmingham. The canal alternates here between deep, deep cuttings and tall, elevated sections. There are 3 really impressive bridges, and I took time to go up on each one. I was fascinated by the ramshackle brickwork amongst the weather-fissured sandstone, put there to stope the face collapsing. An odd solution.
The going was very heavy – the towpaths are still very muddy and slimy and they need a couple of weeks of decent weather to dry out a bit. The Birmingham Cycle Revolution doesn’t seem to be coming to this line, which is a shame, as it’s a lovely route.
January 12th – Just a warning to local cyclists that today, the hedge alongside the canal towpath at Catshill, next to Lanes Farm, was flailed. On the plus side, visibility is now great again over the hedge – this is important, necessary work that has to be done now before birds start nesting.
On the negative site, the towpath is now unavoidably strewn with that sharp enemy of cyclists across northern Europe – hawthorn spines.
I’ve often thought they should make planes out of the same stuff these thorns are made of – it can work it’s way through some very tough tyres, and causes about 80% of the flats I get.
If you’re not rocking puncture proof tyres (or even if you are) this stretch of towpath is probably best avoided for a week or two.