BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘towpath’

#365daysofbiking Corny

June 10th – The rain was almost totally constant as I came home from work and hit the muddy canal to avoid the traffic.

With little inspiration in the grey, horrible day, my eye was caught by a single splash of blue and purple in the scrub by the towpath by Clayhnager bridge – a gorgeous, bedraggled and solitary cornflower.

I keep saying this but it’s true – there is brightness to be found in even the most awful days.

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#365daysofbiking Toeing the line

May 30th – For the first time in quite a while, despite the rampant hay fever I decided to ride home along the canal through Birchills in Walsall to Goscote.

Climbing the lock flight here is always a pain – not so much the climb but negotiating the many sets of anti-vehicle barriers, so it’s not one I do often; but today, I had a pleasant surprise.

The towpaths on the stretch I rode are all being resurfaced. This is good news: The runs through Leamore and Harden particularly have been deteriorating in recent years and this will make them much more viable in winter on dark evenings, which is when they’d be most useful to avoid the traffic in central Walsall.

At the moment, the route as far as about Leamore is surfaced properly with asphalt down, the rest is in various stages of excavation or restoration, and on anything less than a mountain bike will be very hard going, so if planning to ride this stretch, I’d wait a week or two.

Now, if only the authorities could be persuaded to re-lay Ryders Hayes to Blakenall and Aldridge to Rushall Junction we’d have a totally ridable local network, possibly for the first time ever…

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#365daysofbiking Lupin the loop

May 14th – On Monday I said there were new wildflowers every day now. As if to confirm it on the way home, by the new pond in Clayhanger, the first of the season’s lupins, which have been growing wild here since I was a kid.

Ironically I searched in vain for one of these yesterday in the same area, so the growth must be coming on fast now.

I love these beautiful, deeply coloured purple blooms; there are also a pink variety here that flower later.

Soon be time for the orchids, too…

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#365daysofbiking Under the bridge

February 6th -The lighter evenings, although coming on fast now, have not reached the far end of my commute, and I tend to do the canal less in the dark, as riding the towpaths at night – even with my excellent front light – is a constant mental grind.

Approaching Clayhanger Bridge on my way back to Brownhills, I stopped to check a text, and realised how bright my light was, to catch Clayhanger Bridge like that.

It’s still a constant effort not to end up taking an early bath, though…

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#365daysofbiking There… and gone

January 8th – It’s not often I feature here photos of things that aren’t there any more. But in this case, I had no choice really as I just had to share.

Heading home along the canal to Brownhills, between the Black Cock Bridge and Clayhanger Bridge in darkness, I was brought to a sudden, screeching halt by… a group of deer on the towpath.

Something had spooked them up ahed and they were running toward me, but seeing my light, they deflected into the copse adjacent and disappeared into the darkness.

So, here was a group of deer.

An oddly unsettling experience…

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#365daysofbiking The dark side:

November 2nd – Returning that evening, drained after a heavy, stressful week, I hit the canal.

Riding the canal towpaths after dark requires a couple of things – nerves of steel and a good front light. 

The nerves are necessary to spot the familiar hazards of the towpath in unfamiliar lighting conditions – ducks, geese, foxes, cats etc, as well as deep potholes, bumps, wooden trail edge boards and paver edges. It’s also challenging to predict sudden curves in the path you navigate automatically in daylight.

I can also be a bit… lonely.

But I love the mental challenge and peace of it.

365daysofbiking Buttered up:

October 5th – I said a good few weeks ago now that butter and eggs, or toadflax is one of the harbingers of summer’s end: When it comes into flower, you know the season is at an end.

Still going strong in early October, it’s one of the few things still in flower, resolutely brightening the canal towpaths, edgelands and hedgerows.

A beautiful, but sad flower.

#365daysofbiking Foxed:

September 6th – Spotted late on a grey afternoon, just on the canal near Clayhanger.

A fox trots purposefully, but unconcerned down the canal towpath, nearly on a mission but not in the slightest bit bothered he might be seen.

#365daysofbiking Springing up for autumn

August 31st – A welcome return with the damper weather has been the fungi, which has been mostly absent all through the dry summer.

I love to see toadstools and fungus in all it’s variety and this example on the towpath – some sort of Suillus I suspect – was glistening in the morning rain and was alive with bugs feasting on it.

August 1st – I’ve been enjoying watching the progress of the berries and fruits this year, perhaps more than usual. Mainly I think because with the hot, dry weather I expected the harvest to be very poor, yet it’s far from meagre. Most things seem abundant, and it looks like being a good winter for birds with a bumper crop of haws reddening gradually in the hawthorn thickets and hedges.

These tough, hard berries are a good winter food for many birds, loaded with energy but bitter so they aren’t depleted quickly.

Grandad used to say and abundance of berries meant nature was preparing for a harsh winter.

It’ll be interesting to see if he was right.