BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Tame Valley’

#365daysofbiking An unexpected flash of orange

August 21st – Returning from Birmingham, the train unexpectedly terminated at Tame Bridge due to a line fault or something, maybe the elastic band snapped.

I couldn’t be bothered with the ride home up through Walsall so hopped on the Tame Valley Canal and then home via Rushall Junction, Park Hall and Aldridge.

Passing through a nondescript bit of towpath near the Birmingham Road, a flash of bright, vivid orange caught my eye.

A gorgeous par of feral marigolds, just trying to make me happy.

They succeeded in their aim.

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#365daysofbiking Route canal

July 12th – Wanting to ride the city canals the day before but unable to, I broke out of work, collected a mate and went for a spin down the Plants Brook/Newhall Valley and into Brum, returning via the Tame Valley.

The canals were as wonderful and peaceful as ever, and the wildflowers – those that have escaped the fanatical dedication to mowing the Canal and River Trust seems to have – are looking fabulous.

As was the Gas Street black cat, disturbed from it’s slumbers by our happy chatter.

Summer is all about rides like this.

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March 12th – Since I’d had to miss the bike jumble last week, and spring always starts with a ride into Birmingham on the canals and cycleways, I took a gentle ride into the city via Sutton Park and the Witton Lakes cycleway, returning via NCN 5 through the Galton and Sandwell Valleys. 

It was warm, still and the journey was as full of surprise and delight as ever it is. Everything form the ladybirds to the urban cats is awakening, and I see Bill Drummond is still communicating with Birmingham via the patch of light under Spaghetti Junction.

A good start to spring.

March 27th – Sunset over the Tame Valley canal, looking from Rushall Junction at Ray Hall, out to Wednesbury, with the twin spires of Wednesbury clear on the skyline.

People say that pylon ruins this view. On the contrary, I think it makes it. What built the Black Country – canals, power and church. All in one shot.

A great ride and beautiful, but chilly evening. 

July 11th – If you fancy a free, breathtaking aerial entertainment display, get your backside down to the Tame Valley Canal, and just look up.

High tension lines run along the canal from a control compound at Ocker Hill to another at Ray Hall, and this interlink is currently undergoing service. Huge scaffold towers and nets span roads, canals and railways, to support lowered lines; engineers scramble and dangle high above from the steel lattice-work, oblivious to the toe-curling peril they appear to be in.

They work quickly and with precision amongst a baffling array of hawsers, catenaries, safety lines and fall arresters, materials and tools being hoisted ip in a sack via a block and tackle hoist. 

And below? I watch, open mouthed at these confident, sure-footed and highly skilled engineers. Whatever they’re paid, it can’t possibly be enough.

July 11th – I returned via the Trent Valley Canal, which was alive with activity. Linesmen performed feats of acrobatics on the electricity lines above me as I drank tea beneath them, watching in awe. Herons were prolific, and I saw at least 7 – yes, there are three there in just one photo. The local cat population was also languidly active, hunting bugs, birds and furry things in the newly mown opposite embankment.

And beyond? The dull rumble of traffic on the motorway, trains, and of industry, breathing. This is a peaceful artery and a wonderful place.

May 26th – Caldmore Village Festival, then back to Walsall and on to the canal. Up through Darlaston, down to Toll End, then along the Tame Valley Canal to Rushall Junction, then back home via Aldridge. A lovely run. The birdlife was great. Plenty of cygnets, goslings and herons. Common Terns are stalking the water everywhere, but too fast for this slow photographer to catch. The canal was gorgeous. A fine day.

March 8th – At the far end of the Tame Valley Canal, bisecting the M5/M6 interchange at Ray Hall, it meets the Birmingham and Rushall Canals and the somewhat inaccurately named Rushall Junction. This is a wonderful spot, even though it is surrounded by the roar of traffic… Maybe because it’s so tranquil. To the west, the twin spires of Wednesbury are clearly visible along the valley, and to the south east, the inviting cycleway to Birmingham, which soon diverges from the canal and cuts through the green lung of the Sandwell Valley nature reserve. To the north, the canal is arrow straight through the nine uphill locks to Longwood Junction, from where it winds it’s contour route through Aldridge and Walsall Wood to Brownhills. I love this stretch of canal, and just wish the towpaths were better. In places, they are in awful condition, and in damp conditions can be a real trial.

October 20th – Returning via Rushall Junction and Aldridge, I passed under this remarkable arch bridge on the Tame Valley Canal at Tower Hill. Named Freeth Bridge, it’s huge, big and awe-inspiring. It’s a fine example of the architectural surprises Birmingham tends to reserve for people who explore the city. This sight never fails to inspire admiration for those who designed and built it. I’ve still yet to pass over the top, I must get round to that sometime.

June 10th – Returning for a while up the challenging hill from the Tame crossing at Hopwas up the A51 to Packington, I stopped to admire the former Tamworth Waterworks pumping station. Sitting in red-brick splendour in the lee of Hopwas Hays Wood, the former pump house has been converted into attractive dwellings. I love it when old buildings are repurposed in such a sensitive manner.