BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘heath’

#365daysofbiking First

Wednesday March 30th 2021 – Sorry for the grainy phone photo, but I found something on my way home tonight on Clayhanger Common that always fills me with joy.

First cowslip of the year.

I know cowslips will never win any wards for complexity or outstanding beauty, but these humble members of the primrose family are so gorgeous, and herald the spring like no other flower.

Coming as the daffodils fade, they assure you that summer is indeed on its way, and when I was a child, were very rare in these parts.

Thankfully, due to declining weedkiller use, improved habitats, and guerrilla seed scatterers like me, Clayhanger Common and other grassy areas are now awash with this wonderful wildflower.

Seeing the first one of the year is always a joy to the very soul.

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#365daysofbiking Old haunts

July 11th – I had an appointment near Brieley Hill in the morning. The weather was grey and the Stourbridge trains were having a cowturn but I got to Cradley Heath and cycled up the canal through Saltwells.

Years ago, I spent a lot of time in Cradley and its environs. It’s still a busy little town, but it’s changed, suffering the same economic and social pressures as anywhere else.

This is of course, deepest Black Country and I was pleased to see the chain makers still behind Cradley station.

The goats at Saltwells were a pleasant surprise, too.

It’s been a while since I was back here, and it’s still a decent old place. I should come back when I have more time, I think.

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#365daysofbiking Deceptive

March 10th – Some days you look at the photos you’ve taken and wonder if the camera experienced the same thing you did. Today was that kind of day.

I slipped out mid afternoon. I had things to check up on. I felt rough, I needed the air. But it was bitterly cold, had periodically been snowing, and there was a very wolfish wind that punished for any open zip or gap in clothing.

The towpaths and trails were muddy and wet, but I headed for the common anyway, and found it looking good. The heathland management is still going on here and the latest effort has been using and excavator to pull pack the grass in small squares all over the common.

This will help small, fragile plants take a hold and also give bugs and other small creatures access to fresh earth.

Looking at the pictures, I notice how blue the sky looks and how serene it appears. It was really rather unpleasant. My camera is lying.

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#365daysofbiking Regrouping:


February 10th – there were a very large number of deer on the north heath – loafing in the marsh, and up in the woods towards Fly bay. There must have been 45 or so.

Of course, they always regather in herds in spring, and the animals were content to browse the scrub, meadow and heather and doze in the copses.

I still can’t believe we have these wonderful animals right here on our doorsteps. They are so beautiful.

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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. 

#365daysofbiking Coo, gosh:

September 6th – I don’t know where they’ve been hiding, and they weren’t telling, but I was greeted at the gate to the water meadow in Green Lane by a nearly full compliment of coos, which numbered 9 I think (one remained stubbornly eating a bush some way off).

These lads, here to maintain Jockey Meadows by eating everything they can and churning up the damp soil will be here a week or two and are even tempered, healthy looking bullocks.

Nosey in the way only cattle can be, they came to investigate me but didn’t come too close.

A lovely sight.

#365daysofbiking Oh deer!

August 27th – Nice to see my deer magnet is finally working again. It’s been a while since I saw any deer close up, and it was nice to see them on the dam at Chasewater on my return. 

It’s amazing how bumping into these lovely creatures can change your day.

August 12th – I didn’t find the deer, and it started to rain. But these guys really did cheer me up – the Chasewater North Heath coos. They were moving off the low heath up into the scrub for shelter I think, and didn’t give a toss who they held up, which is exactly how it should be. Their nosiness, and gentle inquisition charmed me as it always does, and I cycled on with a smile on my face.

Well done, lads. Mission accomplished.

July 29th – There have been mercifully few grass fires around our area in this tinder-dry hot spell, which has surprised me. Kids and discarded cigarettes, not to mention the awful disposable barbecue fad, seem to be causing a rash of fires elsewhere as they sadly usually do; but near Brownhills we have so far been impacted only lightly it seems.

One such fire was here on the heath between the dam and bypass at Chasewater; an apparently large fire when reported, it seems that quite a small area has been affected.

Whilst this is a pain, unnecessary and a scourge, it’s not the end of the world: The heath will quickly recover and for a time, smaller species should enjoy a boom, and it’ll soon there will be little sign the fire happened.

Better it hadn’t happened at all, but still…

April 29th – I made another call on my way home to check out the latest work on the heathland restoration on Brownhills Common between the Chester Road and The Parade, south of the Watling Street. Much local comment had taken of mass tree felling and carnage, so I was wary.

I needn’t have worried: The careful project continues to strip out most of the coniferous trees and saplings here, and standing upon a mound that was once a conifer plantation most of my view was now the varying greens of deciduous growth. Native saplings have been left, and the whole area opened up to the light.

Yes, there are tractor tracks on the main footpath, but other than that easily remedied damage, the work seems to be sensitive and in line with original plans.

You can already see the improvements in biodiversity and birdlife here, and that can only be great for the future of this wonderful heath.