BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Mill’

#365daysofbiking The run of the mill

Thursday March 25th 2021 – Another beautiful spring day with a little sunshine warmth – but wrapping up was still necessary.

For the first time in a good while I came back from Darlaston to Goscote on the canal and flipped to the McClean Way (formerly the Goscote cycleway): I avoid this route in winter as the towpaths tend to be very slippery and hazardous despite their recent resurfacing.

But they’ve dried up now, and a lovely potter back through Walsall getting acquainted with old friends. No sign of swans nesting yet, though.

Birchills lock flight looked splendid in to the low sun, as did the millennially constructed flats complex forming part of Smiths Flour Mill, which up until the 1990s was a functioning flour producing plant.

Outsiders would never suspect Walsall had such splendid spots right in its heart like this.

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#365daysofbiking Softening

April 21st – The evening exercise rides are getting a bit samey and I think I need to vary my palette a wee bit – but it’s quite hard with beauty like this not five minutes out of town.

I took a spin up to Ogley Junction from Brownhills: Just a short, lazy loop from Silver Street. The canal and fields near home farm looked spendid in the warm, softening evening sun.

Machinery is once more on the half-ploughed field, which is interesting, and the oilseed rape is now in full bloom, too.

I never, ever tire of this place. It’s so gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Mill stones

December 25th – Happy Christmas!

A traditional Christmas Day bike ride, but only as far as Chasewater sadly and I noticed something I’d not spotted before: The memorial stones along the canal at Millfield near Home Farm at Sandhills, and the fact that the school on the other side have adopted the stretch of canal from Ogley Junction to Anchor Bridge.

This means they’ll tend it and I guess litter pick it and undertake lovely little projects like the individually painted memorial stones, I guess.

Great stuff.

I do wish the school wouldn’t use a windmill for a logo, though. The Mill field the school was built upon was originally that of a steam mill, now flats, pretty much next door to the school. It was a state of the art temple to Victorian mechanisation.

Never mind…

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#365daysofbiking Milling it over

November 7th – A better day than the previous, but only really for being shorter, sadly. I had business in Chasetown so left work while it was still light and headed up there on the canal passing through Brownhills on the way.

It rained lightly most of the time. This weather is getting beyond a joke now.

Approaching the old steam mill at Ogley Hay, Brownhills, the view is lovely at the moment, even for the very poor weather and light. With the bracken and leaves turning, the hedgerows and woods are a beautiful mixture of burnt yellows and reds, with a smattering of green to boot.

The mill, of course, is now private flats and rather splendid; and it of course gave it’s name to the nearby Millfield school, which also backs onto the canal. One mystery, though: The former narrowboat the school had as an outdoor classroom – Tucana – seems to have been missing two or three weeks now.

It has no engine, so it must have been towed somewhere, to do something…

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#365daysofbiking Locked out

May 21st – On a late journey to work following a meeting near home earlier, I tried to get on the canal at Smith’s Flour Mill, on the New Walsall Ring Road – but I was thwarted by…. A flood.

I’ve noticed this happen here before: Someone leaves both paddles open on the lock above and I don’t think the overflow sluice next down the line – the lowest in the Birchills flight – can handle it. As a consequence, the pound between floods under the bridge.

The cause  appeared to be inexperienced boaters who were in the lock above, looking a bit helpless.

I contacted the Canal and River Trust local team who came and sorted things out.

At least it should clean some of the detritus of the path under the bridge…

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#365daysofbiking Swanning around

August 28th – Oh hello guys, not seen you for a while.

Just at Bentley Mill Way aqueduct, the swan family seem to come from Moxley were determinedly heading towards Walsall – mum dad and five cygnets, now nearing adulthood. They were in a perfect line and a wonderful thing to see,

It’s nice to see another generation maturing.

June 3rd – I made it to Draycott in the afternoon, after a very fast ride up the A515, and found the usual assortment of unusual cars, motorbikes, tractors, stationary engines and yes, steam traction by the… erm, truckload. 

Such events rarely show you anything new, but they are lovely to see the labour of love that maintaining and running a vintage machine – be it steam or petrol – really is.

The Deluxe Trabbant was astounding, and the chance to guzzle ice cream, chat geeky stuff with people who love mechanical engineering like I do was wonderful.

Always a lovely event, and there will be another in October.

December 18th – Off to Telford again, and caught out by a sharp frost, I nearly lost the bike on black ice, having chosen the one bike without ice tyres as I thought it was too warm.

I’d set out at dawn, and in Brownhills, it wa misty and warm. Unusually, as I got to Mill Green, it was cold, clear and frosty. This was unusual, as normally the reverse is true. Turning into Mill Lane I realised ice was a problem and about 100 yards on I did a series of shimmies that would have please Torville and Dean. 

Luckily, I had no following vehicles, and relaxed, I let the bike go where it wanted and gradually let the velocity drain away, before walking back up the lane to the main road.

A close shave, which meant I missed my train; but it did give me chance to catch an icy dawn over Hill Hook.

August 16th – Another delight of the season, that frustratingly I couldn’t harvest: Giant puffballs on the patch of fenced off grass used as an occasional football pitch right in central Walsall between Smiths Flour Mill and the turn off the ring road for Birchills.

These are about the size of a football, and are pure white and lovely to eat. There were about 14 in total over the field, but due to the gates being locked, they were beyond the range of my frying pan. 

Nice to see these huge fungi though, looking for all the world like alien eggs.

April 18th – The Churnet Valley is beautiful – no ifs and no buts – it’s like Staffordshire’s equivalent of the Loire Valley. Featuring a canal, a river, a preserved steam railway, a castle, several beautiful villages and steep, beautiful slopes, the reason it’s generally overlooked is because it contains Alton Towers, the theme park people seem to come to without visiting Dimminsdale or any of the other beautiful places here.

The old Flint Mill at Cheddleton is stunning.

The castle is now a school and religious retreat, an is extraordinary. 

The Churnet Valley does, however, eat cyclists. The 16% and 17% hills in and out of the valley between Oakamoor and Froghall nearly finished me.

But I have to come back.