BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘staffordshire’

#365daysofbiking Medicinal

Saturday March 20th 2021 – I wasn’t feeling so good and headed out with a friend onto Cannock Chase. I was down in the dumps and not feeling the love.

I was expecting the Chase to be crowded and the paths to be terrible, like they currently are at Chasewater, but to my delight it was very quiet and the trails were no different to normal.

I found myself cheered by the cinematic, wide landscape and open skies, despite the dull day, and found what I usually do – the best cure for the blues is a damn good ride.

Coming off the Chase at Milford, we rode through Tixall at dusk, Haywood and around by Blithfield and Admaston home.

Of course, the highly medicinal burger from Milford’s legendary Wimpy helped too…

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#365daysofbiking Across the middle-distance

May 20th – I have featured the view over the Watling Street valley between the canal at Chemical Hill, Brownhills and Hammerich many, many times on this journal over the years.

It’s a view dear to me, and the skyline above the rolling slopes of Meerash, punctuated by that elegant church spire and former windmill make for a remarkable view from a former industrial town on the very edge of the Black Country.

I think what makes it special is indeed the in-between: There’s a busy dual carriageway, of course, a well hidden toll motorway too, and a former railway.

But this land also bore the Staffordshire Hoard and I’m sure is still holding on to great secrets.

It’s a fantastic thing to behold.

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#365daysofbiking Caught in time

December 29th – The sunset was gorgeous, but I and my companion were not in a good place to record it. A quick summit meeting and we raced to Chasewater and got there as the sundown was in it’s dying, deep pink phase, which made for some lovely long exposure photos.

I guess folk must be sick of seeing Chasewater here, but when it’s as beautiful as this I’ll never tire of it.

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#365daysofbiking Alton states

August 26th – I spent way more time in the CHurnet Valley than I meant to. A bit of stomach cramp invited a restful drink at the Talbot, and the fascination of Red Road and that castle in the glorious golden hour was too much to resist.

Alton could almost be French.

It’s so sad this place is mostly known for a theme park, there’s so much more to it than that. I shall return – I always meant to do this one in Autumn. It’s about time I did.

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#365daysofbiking Lost lanes

August 4th – A lane I’d not really ever registered the existence of disappeared a while ago, without me being aware. This is unusual, as I’m normally fascinated by these things.

School Lane, Little Wyrley was a quiet, winding, lightly used lane with no dwellings between the A5 Watling Street and Gorsey Lane. This whole area of scrubby, grubby not-quite countryside between Brownhills and Great Wyrley is plagued with fly tipping and other antisocial behaviour, but School Lane was particularly badly affected.

Having endured enough, in 2016 [Edit – It’s been closed much longer than this, from at least 2009 – Bob], Cannock Chase Council decided the best way to stop the problem was to gate the lane. Permanently.

This completely passed me by at the time, and I only noticed when it was mentioned in passing a few months ago on social media, so I made a mental note to ride it while I still could. As you can see, nature is now taking over and it’s an odd, but peaceful and wonderfully pollution-free byway disappearing slowly back into the landscape.

Like Dark Lane near Longdon, lost lanes intrigue me no end.

I’m glad I checked this out.

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#365daysofbiking Churnet up

June 29th – Since it was to be the hottest day of the year so far, I went for it again: Another ride out.

I rode up over Chorley to Armitage, and then up through Blithbury and Abbotts Bromley to Denstone, then up the Churnet Valley Trail to Alton, which always gives gorgeous views of the castle at Alton, evoking Bavaria or the Loire Valley.

From Alton to Oakamoor on the wonderful valley-floor lane called Red Road, then a quick break in the village and up Star Bank for a drink at the Old Star pub to cool down/ From there a loop round Windy Harbour and Caldon Lowe over the Weaver Hills, and back home through Ellastone, Marston Montgomey, Sudbury and Yoxall.

A fantastic ride on a perfect day.

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#365daysofbiking Any reasonable route

May 25th – A 93 mile dayride that was very, very challenging.

It was a nice day – not too hot, but sunny enough to get a tan, and I set out mid morning, to follow cycle route 54 to Derby – from there on route 6 to Worthington and Cloud Quarry, then back via Packington, Measham, Harlaston and Whittington.

The day was lovely and the ride excellent, with plenty to see: NCN 54 has some very pointless twiddly bits, but I did them all for old times sake and enjoyed every inch. Sad to see the development at Tattenhill, but time must crawl I guess. Falling in love with Derby again was a bonus.

NCN 6 is still one of my favourites: The run out of Derby then past Melbourne is one of the best routes in the country and a genuine joy. My only criticism is it’s time to cut the vegetation back from the viewing area at the quarry again – that stunning view should be maintained if possible.

The challenge was I’ve only ever ridden this in the opposite direction, and all the hills came at the end, and on top of some grim stomach cramps. But I prevailed and it was fantastic.

A lovely day.

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#365daysofbiking Brutally wet in Cannock

March 6th – I had an important hospital appointment in Cannock, a place I rarely go. Cannock Hospital is actually lovely, and a model of the best of the NHS, but Cannock itself, I find a bit otherworldly. It’s nice enough, suffering like all post industrial town centres, with odd, lingering pointers to a more prosperous, or at least busy past.

The brutalist concrete relief mural featuring local industrial icons – pit heads, Caterpillar vehicles, Rugeley Power Station and GEC seems to have been transplanted from an earlier building or situation. It’s almost soviet.

Everyone seems to know of Walsall’s hippo, but who ever dares mention Cannock’s concrete elephant? How did that come to be? There’s a story there.

On this wet, grey and unpleasant day, I found Cannock solemn, but pleasant, and I shall come back – mainly to see if it wears it’s cloak of quiet melancholy on nice days, too.

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#365daysofbiking Rising again


February 23rd – It’s not often there’s good news to share on pubs here, I normally note their closing but seldom their re-opening.

I had noted the sad state of the Meynell-Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross more than once, after its sudden closure in 2014. I genuinely thought it would never open again.

This charming old country pub was in it’s day a decent place and could, I think, be a great destination for a decent rural pint and a meal. It’s great that it’s being refurbished and revitalised.

You can find out more here on the website.

I wish the new owners the very best in their new venture.

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