BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘tunnel’

#365daysofbiking Maybe it’s the breath of Autumn on my shoulder…

Tuesday, September 15th 2020 – First of all, thanks for all your positive words and encouragement over the last few days. I had no idea so many of you were reading this rambling pile of cobblers. Thanks so much, it has meant a lot.

I’ve started going to Telford again as the pandemic eases, but now, instead of going the longer way around by train, I tend to ride to Wolverhampton and hop on the train there, to minimise my use of public transport. It works better, if I’m honest and the ride to and from Wolverhampton is nicer than I would have expected.

Actually in Telford, the cycleway I love – up from the station to the Priorslee crossing – is showing a beautiful lack of hedge maintenance as my favourite green tunnel starts to turn for autumn.

Boughs brush my head. Squirrels and rabbits dart out of my path. Hips, haws and berries glow colourfully in the dark green.

Not all effects of the pandemic have been bad. I’ll be a bit sad when they get around to trimming this back… And the gentle feeling of autumn is not so grim this year. I’m quite enjoying it.

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#365daysofbiking On the turn

September 19th – The cycleways of Telford are putting on their autumn jacket now and they always look so fine at this time of year.

The green tunnel effect of the track up from the station is gorgeous in summer, but when on the turn, with sunlight through the hedgerows, it’s magical.

You wouldn’t think you were a few metres from a busy motorway. Only concern is watching out for slippery patched of wet leaves looking to steal my wheels…

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#365daysofbiking What lies beneath

July 7th – It was indeed a better day. The sun was out, the wind had subsided as had the discomfort in my stomach.

I headed out on the canal to Wolverhampton, taking a slow but enjoyable potter down the mainline canal to Birmingham. From there to Aston, where I left the canal and got on a train back to Shenstone.

I noted the Dudley Tourist Board had been working hard to improve it’s customer service at Coseley Tunnel, where I doubt I’ll ever negotiate the southern portal steps with a bike again, although it was certainly an adventure.

Calling at the heavily secured, ghostly Rattlechain Pool, the lagoon concealing many thousands of tonnes of the worst toxic waste was a strange experience: It looks so serene and peaceful, yet the pool – itself just a cap to the material beneath, separated by a thick impermeable skin – is securely fenced and covered by many cameras.

It’s a ghostly and controversial place.

Under the M5 viaduct and Telford’s magnificent Engine Arm aqueduct, the canal is a peaceful, gentle and serene refuge from the mad urbanity above, and the street art is, as ever, fascinating.

Passing on the canal down the Snow Hill flight, I see the view is a matter of opinion. But why? What’s that all about?

A great restorative ride.

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#365daysofbiking Portal:

September 18th – Still surviving and developing is the fascinating green tunnel over the desire-path behind the canal overflow at Clayhanger. Now completely overgrown and just the right size for an adult to squeeze through, it’s a fascinating product of what I suspect is a regular dog walking route.

I hope this continues to be used – it’s such a lovely, happenstance thing

June 28th – I had an early meeting in Droitwich, so cycled back home. I’ve always loved the stretch of canal up through Browmsgrove and Alvechurch to Birmingham, so many sights, although now, north of Kings Norton it’ a bike-commuter trunk route and one has to concentrate hard on other users, which prevents you taking in the best of it.

The way over the Wast Hills Tunnel is arduous but interesting, and I still love the Birmingham University Clock; such an elegant edifice.

In between, peaceful rural and urban waterway.

I’m curious about the growing fashion for jokey, not that funny, punny names for narrowboats. They seem to be allowed the same artistic license as hair salons and some of the worst city centre bars. Bewildering.

A great ride on a day much hotter than expected.

June 22nd – With the excellent weather we’ve been having, Friday night, post work rides into Brum have become a thing, it seems, and this evening I really needed it. Into the city by the main line from Darlaston to Great Bridge, then coffee, cake and out again vial Spaghetti Junction, Castle Bromwich and the Plats Brook/Newhall Valley cycleway – one of the finest, anywhere.

A lovely, gentle, restorative ride.

February 19th – I had to be in work on a Sunday, unusually, early in the morning. After spending a few hours there, I decided to make the best of the day and head on to the canals of the Black Country. I shot over to Tipton, then through the Netherton Tunnel, wound around Brierley Hill to Stourbridge, out to Stourton and then all the way up to Wolverhampton on the Staffs and Worcester, heading back home on the good old Curley Wyrley to Bloxwich.

I love riding the Netherton Tunnel – at 3036 yards it’s a long one, and the effects of water seepage and time make it an interesting and dramatic journey. 

Those air vents still remind me of something out of Doom or Quake.

Didn’t see another soul down there, either, which was odd. Bumble Hole at the far end was busy, though.

October 7th – I’m fascinated by the way the scrub on Clayhanger Common has formed into a tunnel over the footpath behind the overflow at Clayhanger Bridge. This footpath is used enough to be fairly well worn, and the creepers, brambles and scrub have turned the track into a foliage arch which is quite charming and could, for all the world, be a portal to some kind of wonderful netherworld.

April 10th – Cycling the Netherton Tunnel is a genuine challenge. The towpath is now deteriorating badly; it’s full of wheel-snatching potholes filled with obfuscating water that conceals their depth and severity. Water continually drips on you, and occasionally pours. Although you can see daylight, it’s a long time away. And then, the relentless, unforgiving task of riding for twenty minutes or so in a 4-foot gap between a wall that curves closely over your head and a corroded, week handrail.

The relentlessness of it, the eyestrain and psychological effort of keeping alert enough to keep everything flowing is a real challenge.

But I love it every time I do it. I’d say it’s for the experienced cyclist only, and take a hat, jacket and good light. But it is fun.

March 20th – Almost a lost afternoon. I slunk out of work to get another ride in around the canals to Wolverhampton, but suffered a mechanical failure. After a failed bodge fix, I grabbed another bike and escaped late, in bad humour.

A run through Bloxwich and on to the canal at Sneyd opened up to a great ride – up to Wolverhampton, back down the mainline through the Coseley Tunnel to West Brom, then back through Great Bridge, Toll End, Moxley and Darlaston. 

It was surprisingly grey, but not a bad evening at all.

The ride was fast, enjoyable and fixed my bad mood a treat.