BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘honey Hill’

#365daysofbiking A day out of time

1st January 2021 – A ride out with Pickle on the oddest, most lovely New Year’s Day I’ve ever known. Sixty-five miles of absolute, total restorative riding. And not a moment too soon.

We set out early afternoon on a slow bimble on a sunny, bright but very windy day, marked most memorably by the warmth – it was at times 15 degrees out there. Everything was still sodden, and occasionally we rode through floodwater, but on the whole, the roads were quickly drying out and everything was very springlike.

We rode up through Hilton and Chesterfield to Shenstone, then over Shenstone Park, which looked even more like the set of the Teletubbies than it normally does. We went on up to the old A5 through Weeford and down into Hopwas and Wigginton to Syerscote, Clifton, Honey Hill, No Mans Heath, Austrey, Orton, Warton, Polesworth, Birch Coppice and Hurley. We came back up through Kingsbury Water Park, Bodymoor Heath and Carroway Head, Woodend and Stonnall.

The other thing that marked the day is that the normally grey and colourless light of this time of year was temporarily replaced by bright greens and a feeling of spring. It’s like all the time we were inside, or getting wet, we were earning this day: this ride. It was fabulous to be out in.

Pickle noted particularly the swans grazing on some winter crop of brassicas, which is important. We can’t feed waterfowl locally at the moment due to an avian flu outbreak that his killed many birds. People are concerned the swans that normally live in our parks are not able to eat – but these refugees from central Tamworth have flown out to dine al fresco on what the farmland has to offer, and as Pickle said, they seemed very socially distanced.

Clifton Hall continued to bewilder – the twin, red brick, foursquare mansions that were apparently intended to be one, but the wings were built first, and the central part never completed. Pickle observed that it was probably a good house for a couple that were no longer communicating well, but still in love. She’s probably right.

I had no idea it had been derelict for many years and only refurbished and inhabited relatively recently.

You can find out about Clifton Hall here.

As we reached the crossover point between day and night – I love the concept of civil twilight – we laboured up Honey Hill, on the road out of Clifton towards the junction of four counties at No Mans Heath. Honey Hill is a hard climb, windswept, and generally a summer place: But today it was just right. The views commanded were beautiful, and the ride had really encouraged a spirit of optimism for the year to come.

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#365daysofbiking Sky watching

May 16th – A day with little wind, beautiful skies and clear air, bathed in beautiful sunshine. There was nothing for it but to saddle up and head for my favourite haunts in East Staffordshire.

Heading out of Brownhills up over Shire Oak, a favourite view was captured, then through the lanes of Chesterfield and Shenstone, Weeford and Hopwas. From there, Wigginton, Rickerscote and Syerscote for one of my favourite lanes of all.

There’s something gorgeous about a summer day lane with open fields and no hedgerows.

I went then to Honey Hill and No Mans Heath, Netherseal, Lullington, Coton in the Elms and back through Catton, Whitemoor Haye, Huddlesford and Lichfield.

Not a massive ride by any stretch, but the skies and villages were perfect, and I’ll treasure my hours on these lockdown traffic-free roads for the rest of my life. I hardly saw a soul.

Times have been very hard indeed. But the sun and constancy of my beloved countryside is healing me with every ride now.

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May 29th – A day of remarkable colour and beauty. I set off in the early afternoon for a ride not really sure where I was going, but headed to Middleton Hall for fuel in the form of tea and cake before heading southeast into the wind, over to Ridge Lane via Kingsbury and on to Mancetter, a place I haven’t been for years. From there, out to Sheepy Magna, then Orton on the Hill, up to Twycross and then down Salt Street to No Mans Heath. Returning in a glorious golden hour via Clifton, Harlaston and Whittington, the sunset over the railway at Hademore was remarkable.

It was a long ride but I felt power in my legs and really, really enjoyed it.

May 20th – I’d had enough. The week had been tough and I needed time out – so taking advantage of a temporary lull at work I left early and headed out. The weather wasn’t great, with an insistent southwesterly and generally overcast skies, but it was warm enough and the sun did make it out on occasions.

I headed  up to Rosliston, hoping to catch the Honeypot cafe, but the opening hours were shorter than those listed online, and it was shut. Having a brainwave, I went instead to the cafe at the Rosliston Forestry Centre, which was decent and is open daily until 5pm. From there, Linton, Caldwell, Gresley, Netherseal, then back via No Mans Heath, Haunton, Syerscote, Hopwas and Weeford. 

This was just the thing my soul needed, and 75 miles later, I felt much better.

September 19th – I darted between villages in the borderlands of the plains of east Staffordshire – Coton, Lullington, Netherseal, Chilcote, No Mans Heath, Syercote, Wigginton. The weather and light were gorgeous. The riding was fast and easy.

Really surprised to see juicy, sweet strawberries still ripening in Chilcote’s polytunnels, and Ladybird Cottage in Netherseal was a gem I’d not spotted before. 

Honey Hill, at the furthest eastern outpost of Staffordshire, was as demanding to cycle as ever, but the climb is always rewarded with beautiful views.

A wonderful ride on a fantastic day.

April 8th – Another long ride today, a gorgeous one too. The weather was wonderful, and I had energy in my legs. I headed out via Wall and Whittington, through Elford, Harlaston and Clifton to No Mans Heath, stopped for a breather in Appleby, up to Measham and back via Coton in the Elms, Catton and Croxall. About 70 miles, I reacquainted myself with some places I hadn’t been for years – including Honey Hill and Salt Street. 

A great ride

May 27th – One of the routes I took yesterday is a very old, unmade track. Salt Street connects No Mans Heath and Norton-Juxta-Twycross. It’s rough, unmade, and passes a waterpower and one of the microwave transmitters of the cold-war communications system. A great, hilly ride, it’s a blast on a warm, summers evening. From here, I came over Honey Hill near Clifton, and back through Whittington, Wall and Lichfield. A great day.

April 9th – Another leisure run out around Staffordshire and south Derbyshire. Plenty of buzzards, kestrels, rabbits and songbirds. Sadly, unusually high levels of roadkill at the moment. Oilseed rape is coming on, and the air is beginning to smell of pollen and green. Blossom is well advanced with cherries, apple and the continuing blackthorn showing well.