BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Pelsall’

#365daysofbiking A changed world

Christmas Eve, Thursday December 24th 2020 – I had a busy day – the errands mounted up, last minute shopping for groceries, dropping off presents and so forth. My last task was to nip into Walsall wo pick up some vegetables in the early evening.

It was a crisp, clear evening and the riding fast but easy in the nippy air. I decided to return through Pelsall, to check out their Christmas tree.

Unusual in the borough that it’s planted, it was handsome and looked lovely in the memorial garden.

But what a strange Christmas Eve this was: Early evening, nobody around.

What a changed world we live in at the moment.

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#365daysofbiking Impressively tolerant

March 7th – The canal was a bad choice of route, as I realised after a short time that the toads were on the move, and the towpath was littered with amphibians taking the cold night air.

Heading to spawning waters, many would not make the perilous land journey from their normal habitats, being lost to traffic and, er… Bike wheels.

Fortunately, as far as I know, I didn’t hit any. I came back on the road, with the lights on full.

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#365daysofbiking Radio activity

March 7th – Spinning over to Pelsall on at errand at dusk, I passed under the Old Cement Works Bridge at The Slough, and noted the radio masts there, the larger of which has always been a bit more than the average cellphone mast.

There since the days of analog mobile phones, it was the first cellphone basestation in the area and has been repeatedly upgraded as technology improved. I also carries on the same structure some microwave transceivers and what looks like maybe VHF telemetry antenna. It’s a busy mast for one lurking in a car park of an average, fairly remote trading estate.

Next to it of course, the three armed mast of a Tetra node, the UK emergency services digital network.

Antenna and masts fascinate me. And they never look better than against a dusk sky.

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#365daysofbiking Omnidiretional signals


January 19th – Some things are just nice.

I’m a big fan of Back the Track – the group of, it has to be said, mostly pensioners and older folk who have been determinedly converting the old South Staffordshire Railway trackbed through Brownhills into a cycling and walking route for all to enjoy.

This week they installed the new bench at the base of the signalpost by Clayhanger Marsh. The bench was always a personal dream of Brian Stringer, the group’s instigator and leader. Barry Roberts built the bench in his garage from materials he had, begged and were donated, and now it’s in place for all the trail users to ponder the great views on.

The McLean Way (MW) logo is made cleverly from track clips found discarded in the ballast of the old line.

What’s really neat is the backrest flips over, so you can comfortably sit facing the direction you choose.

It’s a lovely, creative and novel thing and I thank Barry and of course, all of Back the Track for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that there’s no road access to where the bench is sited, so those old guys must have manhandled the bench to it’s position. No mean feat.

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#365daysofbiking Post haste

January 1st – In the grey murk of an overcast, darkening evening, the McLean Way really is more rewarding than one would think: There are delights along it’s length from the A5 to Walsall, from hand made benches, to spectacular views and curios like the landmark restored signal post at Clayhanger Marsh.

For me, it always looks better on a grey day, the better to imagine locos hauling coal, rumbling through here, climbing to the peak by the rear of the Swan pub before coasting down to Lichfield.

There might have been a young boy on the Brownhills Bridge, waving to the driver and giggling at the ground shaking.

But that’s all in the past now, ond on a dull new years day, this is a great place to take a breather and remember what was lost, and what was found.

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#365daysofbiking Home signal

September 21st – A rough day. I’d been hoping to make it to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Huddlesford Heritage Gathering, the biannual canal event near Lichfield, but had to work instead. It had been a nice day and Sunday, when I was free, promised to be awful. I was really low.

Arriving home late, I slipped out for a spin up the old rail line that used to run through Brownhills on it’s way from Walsall to Lichfield, now a lovely walking and cycling trail restored by volunteers and christened the McClean Way.

There’s now a bench been created looking out over Clayhanger Marsh by the restored signal post, and I took advantage of it to feel sorry for myself a little. But the view, the peace, the sight of foxes and herons soon cheered me up.

This is home, and a landscape I love and feel part of. I can’t be downhearted in it for long.

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#365daysofbiking Fluffed up

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May 1st – On the McLean Way early in the morning for a change (the old South Staffordshire Railway route from Brownhills to Walsall) I noted at Ryders Hayes that the sallow  seeds were ripe and drifting on the breeze coating everything with fine white downy fluff.

Sallow isn’t the only member of the willow family to do this, nor is it the only species of tree, but it’s always fun to see, if a bit challenging to the airways to cycle through!

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#365daysofbiking A bit chewy

January 24th – I again had to call into Pelsall on the way to working this time took the cycleway from Station Road up the old railway line to The Butts. The route through the Goscote Valley is lovely and well surfaced, mostly, but up at Ryecroft near the cemetery the surface has broken up and going was heavy and muddy.

I’m not sure who’s responsible for this section, but if its the council I shan’t hold my breath for any resurfacing at the moment.

Best avoided in the wet, I think, from now on.

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#365daysofbiking The grey way

January 20th – The McClean Way, the trail that follows the former South Staffordshire Railway out of Walsall and is now being extended by volunteers up through Brownhills is beautiful, even on a cold, grey Sunday afternoon.

Clayhanger Marsh, which the trail is embanked above, was brooding and deathly quiet, and I didn’t;t see another soul. The only colour was from the graffiti on the old railway over bridge at the Wyrley and Essington Canal near the Pelsall Road.

This is a fairly unique bridge and is actually a listed structure. I note it’s had it’s number re-stencilled recently, indicating that Network Rail, the ultimate owners, still regard it as an asset.

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#365daysofbiking A positive signal

January 20th – A belated trip on another awfully grim day to see the restored signal beside the cycleway at Clayhanger Marsh, that the lovely people from Back the Track have painted and restored to its former glory.

These guys do a brilliant job of creating and maintaining the semi-official cycle path and walking route along the old South Staffordshire line – now called the McCLean Way – and this is a superb little project.

I love the trail logo fontal on the top. A lovely touch.

Thanks to all who work on this great project!

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