BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Pipe Hill’

#365daysofbiking Shades of grey, shades of blue

Sunday 16th January 2022 – I was planning on a longer ride, but I got bogged down in changing my tyres. I’m still experimenting with studless winter specific ones, but wasn’t happy with the current set and had been given some Pirelli to try. By the time I’d changed them, and sorted other maintenance matters arising, there was little left of daylight; but it didn’t matter much because rather than being bright and pleasant as forecast, the weather was cold and grey.

I slid out for a tentative test ride in the twilight, heavy hearted – I’d been looking forward to a decent ride all week and it just hadn’t happened. The tyres, thankfully, felt much better: Even after this short 13 miler I felt I had more trust in them.

I did a speedy loop of Stonnall, Footherley, Shenstone, Wall, Pipehill and Hammerwich. The weather was very cold and closing in, and the atmosphere felt hostile. Riding was hard work, and my hands were cold.

I stopped at the top of Pipe Hill; to record a darkening Lichfield, the sprawl of which has slowly edged towards Pipe Hill in the four decades I’ve cycled here. Where there is now a large Waitrose supermarket, there was once fields, a small hospital and a cricket ground. The new houses are now spreading up Deans Slade towards Aldershawe and Harehurst Hill.

It’s sad, but that’s progress and I don’t lament these things: Such is wasted energy, as they can’t be changed or retained, and time will continue to march on. The spires I marvelled at as a boy are still there, and the impact of that view on me is just as great as it always was, I could study it for hours, even in this bitter chill.

I felt a little blue in this grey landscape. There was little sign this evening of the premature spring we found at New Year, and longer days and warmth seemed impossibly far away from me in the here and now. Whilst the view and the lanes were lovely, today they didn’t soothe me, they just made me long for better days.

They will, of course, arrive: And not a moment too soon.

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#365daysofbiking Held to ramson

April 28th – At Pipe Hill, between Wall and Burntwood it’s nice to see the wild garlic inn bloom again.

I really love this beautiful, edible plant – sometimes known as ramsons it tastes and can be used just like a little more subtle normal garlic, and it’s scent hangs heavy around woodland, hedgerows and damp ground far and wide.

One of the most popular posts on this journal featured the glade of wild garlic that grows by the River Arrow in Redditch with over 18,000 reactions since it was posted in 2011.

It seems I’m not the only one who likes wild garlic!

This journal is moving home. Please find out more by clicking here.

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April 22nd – The late Lichfeldian touring cyclist and acquaintance Maurice Purser used to tell me you could see 7 spires/towers and/or churches from Pipe Hill. Maurice, who enjoyed such puzzles, had me scouring for months with binoculars in the mid-80s. What actually solved it for me was not careful scrutiny of the city skyline from high up here past Mickle Hills, but a map.

Maurice liked riddles especially if they were a bit misleading. At some point I looked at a map, and noticed that Aldershawe, the country house visible 90 degrees sunwise from this view had a private chapel. So whilst the riddle was correct, it was a bit cunning.

These days, Aldershawe is divided into smaller dwellings and you can’t see any of it from here for trees.

With a decent zoom on a reasonable day though, Lichfield’s churches, spires and rooftops still come alive, and a middle aged cyclist remembers this view as a young lad, with a leathery, weathered older gent telling tall tales of derring-do.

Wherever you are Maurice, may it be hawthorn free, the wind at your back, the sun on your face, and speed in your wheels. And a good cafe stop.

October 31st – And then, the return. In shades of pink, blue, orange and grey, it was cinematic and even the distant, noisy sweep of traffic was beautiful. There was little wind and noise, and the smells of the season just hung in the air.

I’ve made no bones about having the darkness of winter. Everyone who reads this must surely know how I feel about it – yet when autumn is old and winter encroaches, the gloom is punctuated by a beauty you never feel in summer.

February 7th – The season of sunsets continues, with a lovely hazy one that I chased from Lichfield to Hammerwich. It was a beautiful, ever changing sky, and sadly, it was passed by the time I got to the spot I really wanted to see it from.

But, as it happened, the pictures didn’t turn out to bad.

September 6th – I popped into Lichfield on a grey afternoon for a bit of shopping, and noticed that the Panache Restaurant, which had garnered appalling food safety ratings in recent months had closed and seems to have the builders in.

This was one the Three Tuns pub, and one of three pubs in close proximity on Pipe Hill, the other two long since gone.

This is clearly quite an old building that has undergone much change over the years, and I would hate to see it lost.

I hope the next phase of this venerable pub’s life is kind to it.

June 28th – At the Sandyway island on the A461 Walsall Road, just south of Lichfield, there’s a field of maturing oilseed rape stretching over to Maple Hayes, with poppies interspersed though it. It’s not as impressive as the fields were just up the hill last year, but it’s not bad; those fields have this year rotated to wheat.

I think the crop may be organic, as mixed in are all manner of wildflowers including thistles, poppies, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, and a purple blue flower I don’t recognise.

The most puzzling thing is the steel box marked ‘BT Property CC223’ hanging loosely on the gate post; it’s not fixed and can be opened, but theres little inside aside from the remnants of a mechanism in the lid. 

I have a feeling it may be a cash box from an old-style payphone kiosk. Anybody know for sure? It’s certainly an odd thing in an unusual place…

June 26th – It had caught my eye the morning before – a late flowering crop of oilseed rape in a field also partially spread with crimson poppies, just in the lee of Pipe Hill as one descends down into Lichfield. Today I stopped and took pictures.

I’m not altogether sure what causes this – but it is beautiful, and quite rare. It seems many of the neighbouring fields are displaying a similar effect. Beautiful in the sunlight.

April 6th – From Pipehill, on a reasonable day, the view of south Lichfield is wonderful. Modern, new build housing and a bypass have converted what was once a mostly rural view into urban sprawl reminiscent of Yate or Stoke Gifford in Bristol. In the middle, like some fallen baroness in a closing-time bar, sits the once noble Sandfields Pumping Station. This remarkable building once supplied water to the Black Country, but now languishes idle in a sea of buildings whose architectural and structural benchmark are set considerably lower. A pedigree hound surrounded by mongrels.

The campaign to save the pumping station and the remarkable engine it contains is gearing up. Visit Dave Moore’s blog to find out more.

A commute from the 26th March, turned to video to go with an article on my main blog noting the first anniversary of this journal. Please read the original article by clicking here – and if the video above is blocked in your country, there’s an alternate version linked in the article. 

Here’s to more of the same… and another 365daysofbiking.