BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘river’

#365daysofbiking Unkind cuts

November 17th – The Canal and River Trust are still doing their best to piss me off, their talent for which is so prodigious I doubt they actually have to try.

After grumbling a couple of weeks ago at pointless towpath grass cutting up on the Anglesey Branch on the way to Chasewater, I see they’ve been up on the canal through Brownhills too.

They are cutting grass that the hungry waterfowl would have grazed overwinter. a colony of earthstar fungus has been destroyed. Grass mulch now is all over the paths, bunging up the bike and folk’s shoes. Parts of the grass that were formerly lush and verdant are now a cropped mud bath.

Why? Who the hell cuts grass in winter? This is sheer, pointless, piss-poor grounds management, and an utter waste of desperately needed cash.

Please stop!

A canal towpath is a wild place. That’s it’s charm – a rough cut twice a year would be more than enough.

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#365daysofbiking Nursery tales

June 8th – The weather cleared, so I left the fair and headed up to Honey Hill, No Mans Heath, Netherseal, Coton in the Elms, Walton and over to Barton for coffee – but from the rickety Walton Bridge, I watched a fascinating drama unfold.

Four adult Canada geese were shepherding their clutches as one group along the reedbeds at the edge of the Trent, foraging for food. It’s not uncommon for these geese to team up on parenting duties or mind each other’s chicks, but this group of nearly 30 is one of the largest I’ve ever witnessed. It was stunning – not least for the control exerted by the parents.

They guided the goslings upstream to an inlet to the west. I watched as they processed one by one and two by two into the side brook.

Then, a splash and a flash of red fur – a fox was waiting. There was a commotion, and Reynard fled empty mouthed, and the geese herded their young back into the main river. They appeared to be counting as they gathered the young birds into a tight, safe circle.

Fox had gone, his lunch thwarted by eagle eyed parents – or maybe goose eyed – and then normal business resumed as a human with food was spotted on the eastern bank.

I’ve never seen anything like it and had I not ventured out on a wet, miserable Saturday, I probably never would have.

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#365daysofbiking Stopping the line

May 19th – A fairly short ride out on a grey but warm Sunday ffternoon took me to the incredibly busy Strawberry Cabin cafe in Hints for excellent tea and cake, and from there I dropped down to Fazeley on the old A5, and went to check out the old WW2 pillbox on the aqueduct over the Tame.

Pillboxes protecting bridges on the River Tame and Trent are a familiar sight even now, and they lie in various states of decay, little more than a historical curiosity one passes by without much thought – but this one has always fascinated me.

The stop line it formed part of was envisioned to confront the possible nazi invasion at the crossing points of the river, which would have formed a natural pinch point. So this could have been a vital component in the defence of the Realm.

Now it’s just a curious anachronism in a really sleepy, beautiful waterside spot. Thank heavens it was never needed.

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#365daysofbiking Death throes:

November 20th – In Redditch, just like everywhere else I guess, Autumn is in it’s death throes now. Winter is on my shoulder and it was cold, and on the way home, wet too. It’s not yet frosty, but there’s a characteristic bite in the air that finds every sensitive tooth when you first step out.

Rolling along the Arrow Valley through the park to visit a customer, the river and meadows were still gorgeous. But you can tell it’s ending now. Another week or so and winter will be here.

But also, it’s only a little over a month now until the shortest day. A month. Then darkness will be in retreat once more.

Onwards. I’m ready now.

#365daysofbiking Chips with that?

September 10th – I notice the Canal and River Trust have contractors out at the moment cutting back canalside tree and shrub overgrowth, which is a job that’s been ongoing locally most of the summer.

Here at Walsall Wood they’ve been quite ruthless in removing the lower beaches of trees and scrub over what is a very wide canal, so the growth would not have impeded the passage of boat traffic.

It has, however, removed cover for kingfishers, waterfowl and the mamals that live and hunt alone the bank. Periodically, piles of wood chips will be good for bugs I suppose.

Concerning, but I suppose it’s necessary.

July 7th – Taking advantage of the quiet roads following England’s victory over Sweden in the World Cup, a lift was bagged to near Measham and an unintentional 87 mile fast paced ride up the Cloud Trail to Derby, then back out through Mackworth and the Needwood Valley, finishing long after dark, ensued.

I explored the trail over Sinfin Moor too where I’d never been before, which really was a nice ride.

Not really any time to take too many pictures, but Cloud Quarry’s view from the trail is still jaw dropping, and it’s fascinating to see one end of this immense quarry being filled while basting continues to remove limestone at the other. 

The river crossing is always a delight, and the tiny chapel/church at Church Town is a real gem.

I was intrigued by the crop growing near derby – is that oats? Seems like it but they seem a bit – fulsome for that. You don’t see oats about much is Staffordshire come to think of it. Suggestions gratefully received.

A great ride on a hot, quiet Saturday afternoon.

June 17th – A much better day all around with a ride out in steady, fine drizzle to Cannock Chase – heavily pregnant deer were seen near Penkridge Bank, and following a treat at the Wimpy in Milford, aa bimble over Shugborough was just what the doctor ordered. 

The lamb had escaped his paddock and flock through the fence, but defied attempts to recapture him, and his antics were entertaining, but left the cattle nearby unimpressed.

At the canal near Bishton, the remains of the boathouse on the river – one a grand affair but now just a Brik-lined caver and passage – were as fascinating as ever. You can find out more here.

June 11th – For the first time in absolutely ages, I found myself in Redditch on a business call, and for old times sake I rode through the gorgeous Arrow Valley Park that bisects the town, with the still quaint little hamlet of Ipsley in the centre of it.

I used to come here week in, week out but the customer changed hands and moved out fo that line of business, so I really find myself here now. But it’s still lovely.

But that climb back up from the south of town to the station is still an absolute killer…

June 6th – There’s a splendid display of orchids this year in the meadows, wetland margins and by the canal – but sadly many have been destroyed – or stunted – by the agressive local towpath mowing schedule by the Canal and River Trust.

Can they not tolerate a bit of uncut grass for a few weeks while these bee-attracting beauties thrive? Perhaps they could use the manpower to fix some of the leaks and failing infrastructure instead…

June 2nd – Heading out on a dull but warm afternoon, the eventual aim was Draycott in the Clay steam fair at Klondyke Mill, but fate had other ideas. On the way, I called in at Chasewater to see if it was filling the canal. It was, the valves were open.

There has been a leak in the canal near Little Bloxwich that has lost a huge amount of water into a culvert beneath the canal, and the Canal and River Trust had said initially the drop in level was due to Chasewater’s supply being cut off by Staffordshire County Council, which was clearly arrant nonsense.

The Trust finally released an emergency stoppage notice and began damming off the leak that very afternoon.

You can read more here.

Chasewater is still very full, and when called upon will need to fill the five inches or more lost from the canal. An interesting situation to watch.