#365daysofbiking Dead and buried:
September 16th – A grim, drizzly afternoon and a late escape. I went to see if there were any remnants of an ancient burial mound called Offlow near the hamlet of Swinfen, trapped in the A38-A5 interchange triangle, just south of Lichfield.
Apart from a rise in the general landscape, there was nothing but a cellphone transmitter, but I expected that as history says that Offlow was lost over a century ago to farming.
I returned via Lichfield over the Bridleway over the A38 up past Harehurst Hill, near Wall. The main road – pretty much a motorway in all but name – has left a much larger impact on the land than Offlow ever did – which is a bit sad.
July 15th – Out on a late afternoon ride on a warm but grey afternoon, I spotted a previously unnoticed Bradley between Barton Gate and Dunstall village, which looked like a reasonable ride. I wasn’t wrong; at the Dunstall end it provides commanding vies of the splendid church and rolling countryside around it.
That was a real find. Staffordshire always gives you something new.
March 28th – It was a hectic, stressed day and I didn’t get much time to myself; but I swung out in the afternoon to nip into Stonnall. On the way I stopped to take a classic view – that of Lichfield from the quarry access road at Shire Oak.
It still stuns me that you can see so far from here on a clear day, and the detail with which once can capture the Old Lady of the Vale.
Note the cooling towers on the horizon are Willington, between Burton and Derby, and are in fact derelict.
February 4th – I came back to Brownhills late, and hopped on the canal from Walsall Wood. Leaving the towpath at the Anchor Bridge, I realised how odd the landscape is here. The canal, of course, remains level (473ft above mean sea level for the anoraks out there), yet the landscape rises above it gently, and the Chester Road crosses above with barely and undulation.
It made me wonder if the canal was channelled out here and what the landscape of the late 1700s looked like before it arrived.
The night was chilly and blustery and I was tired. I suddenly realised I’d been stood for five minutes or more in pitch darkness contemplating the physical geography here absent mindedly, whilst freezing cold.
Cycling catches you like that sometimes.
May 30th – As is traditional on a day when you have a new camera to try out, the light was crap. It was dull and overcast and less than inspiring – but the views over the Brownhills and Shenstone countryside were green and lush.
That limpid-looking pool is a surface drainage lagoon for the M6 Toll. You’d never know to look at it.
April 5th – At Chasewater, a sinkhole has opened up in the car park, yards from the M6 Toll. Possibly an old shallow bell pit, it could just the same be an old drain or other cavity.
Site notices say experts from the Coal Authority are looking into it. As they do.
Never, ever trust the ground beneath your feet.
February 21st – The weather really couldn’t make up its mind – today, in about 90 minutes, I experienced rain, hail, snow, wind and warm sunshine. Heading back up the canal to Brownhills from Burntwood, the skies were beautiful, as were the patches of sunshine and shadow that chased over the landscape.
The verdant green of the new crops and bright blue really do whisper of a nascent spring, but I must remember, some of the heaviest snows for years were at the end of March in 2013.
I don’t think winter has quite laid down yet…
February 1st – Crikey, are we a 12th through the year already? How did that happen?
I passed through Ryders Mere in the morning, and expected it to be busy with twitchers for the latest rarity – a Great Northern Diver has been here for a few weeks now – but curiously, I was alone. This place is lovely, but I still find it a little barren. 20 years ago this was an opencast, and now, a peaceful haven for wildfowl.
One day, I might bump into the man of the marsh himself, Chaz Mason. That would be lovely. In the meantime, the gulls and grebes carried on as normal.