BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Walsall Wood’

#365daysofbiking Not what I had in mind

New Years Day, Friday January 1st 2021 – I had this daft idea to go up Barr Beacon and catch a great, frosty winter sunset – the first of the year – with a big zoom camera. So I charged up the Nikon P990 and headed off.

I was soon up on the Beacon, it’s not far. I was pleased with myself: My fitness was well up to the long climb, unusual at Christmas. Especially with my advancing age.

Just one snag.

The sun went down with barely a whimper, and everything was dull. The photography was terrible.

Not only that, the melting snow up there had seen so many feet – it wasn’t even attractive to photograph. Cursing, I left, and did a lazy loop of Queslett, Streetly and Aldridge.

On impulse, I headed for the canal between Aldridge and Walsall Wood, and I liked the marina boats, smell of woodsmoke from stoves and soft lights. The ride was saved, sort of.

As I ploughed back towards Brownhills – the towpaths were hard going, not with ice, but unrelenting mud and sludge – I thought I’d have a go at Clayhanger Bridge with the Panasonic. Not too bad considering the lack of moonlight. A lot of colour in a very dark scene. I liked it.

Some days, you don’t get what you want from a ride, but you do get what you need. And that’s totally OK.

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#365daysofbiking Lighting the parish

Tuesday December 8th 2020 – I’m not certain it’s still the case, but fairly sure that the local councillors in Walsall Wood still fund the annual Christmas Tree outside the Parish Church of St John themselves; It’s an act of community spirit and largesse that I’ve always respected and appreciated, despite being miles away from the councillors politically.

The tree is the standard walsall borough tree and lights, but always looks that bit more festive in the grounds of the church.

A pleasure to see. My thanks to those involved.

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#365daysofbiking Halfway up the junction

Tuesday December 1st 2020 – As you come up Green Lane from Shelfield at night, through the darkness of Green Lane, you come to a small hamlet at the foot of the Black Cock Bridge, the bridge itself being named after the pub on its southern flank.

The hamlet is one of the oldest parts of Walsall Wood, once known as Bullings Heath, but now just part of the greater township. Bullings Heath itself stretches on up Hall Lane, and ends at the junction with the Lichfield Road in an area of factories and industrial units that were once the site of a sprawling slum formed largely of canal workers and ex-navvies.

The junction between Hall Lane and Green Lane sits somewhat oddly halfway up the slope of the bridge, now accentuated due to mining subsidence, but always pronounced.

Looking down it at night gives a wonderful village feeling, and you could be in almost any rural community.

I often thought about the dairy farm in Hall Lane, whose buildings and great barn are still extant – and how the carter must have cursed at having to drive his horse uphill to go back down immediately when going to Shelfield with his milk.

I often wonder how much milk got spilled there…

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#365daysofbiking Noir

Friday November 27th 2020 – I had been working from home but had to pop into work late afternoon for something that couldn’t wait the weekend out, so I grabbed the bike and went for it.

Returning in the early evening, I came along Green Lane and up the southern flank of the Black Cock Bridge at Bullings Heath, the tiny hamlet that was probably the genesis of the village of Walsall Wood – now a town of well over 10,000 people.

Bullings Heath, over a very high, daunting bridge from the rest of the urbanity it spawned still retains a bucolic feel and one of slight isolation at night; as you traverse Green Lane past Coppice Woods and Jockey Meadows where there are no streetlights, emerging into the sodium-lit hamlet is an almost cinematic experience, often replete with foxes, owls and bats.

Tonight, I stopped to hop on the canal and looked behind me in a moment when the moon was shielded by thick cloud, and there was very little natural light. It was really atmospheric and reminded me of a film noir.

It’s wonderful how moonlight, or the lack thereof can influence the feel of a place so dramatically.

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#365daysofbiking Inverted

Wednesday November 25th 2020 – I took to the canal towpath on the way home which was a bit of a mistake as it had rained a fair bit in the morning, and the way was lined with muddy puddles that made for damp legs.

But there was a treat waiting.

As I travelled, my headlight started picking up swirls of mist over the water, and by the time I was near the new pond and Clayhanger Bridge, there were appreciable clouds of vapour rising and tumbling above the water, but only in short stretches, whereas others were clear.

This phenomena is a meteorological inversion and is absolutely captivating to watch.

The bike headlight did a great job of lighting the scene up. It really was gorgeous. Best I’ve seen for a few years.

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#365daysofbiking Bright in the dark

Wednesday November 18th 2020 – Another place that looks beautiful at night like Chasetown is Walsall Wood.

Whatever the time of year or weather, the High Street always looks welcoming and bright at night, and despite being a town these days, still retains a village atmosphere.

Stopping on the canal bridge and taking a few minutes to admire the combination of shop lights and traffic is a nice restorative on a grim commute home.

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#365daysofbiking Cornering

Tuesday, October 20th 2020 – Home late, I found myself waiting at Streets Corner lights in Walsall Wood, which are on a fairly long cycle. This junction was rebuilt a couple of years ago, and has been made a lot smoother in operation, and nicer to use with added filters, slip roads and refuges.

You know a good job was made of the redesign as you never hear anyone moan about it now. They don’t praise it, either, but it doesn’t register as an annoyance which has to be the measure of a great success in the UK.

With the imposing Ivy House flats, rebuilt in the early 2000s and named after a house demolished in their construction and the wide open, quiet tarmac, it’s an interesting night time subject while I wait patiently and dream of a hug and mug of tea.

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#365daysofbiking Surface water

Saturday, October 3rd 2020 – What was I saying about bad days and beauty? As if to challenge me, a truly foul day when the rain and wind barely ceased.

I busied myself with work, domestic tasks and a little bike maintenance, shooting out after dark to get a takeaway in.

As I came back from Walsall Wood, I realised the roads were empty, and there was something eerily stark about the Coppice Road Junction.

Here’s hoping for a better Sunday!

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#365daysofbiking Overnight mooring

Sunday, September 20th 2020 – The closing in of the evenings means that there will be more night shots here as the season advances, and there are a few favourites I return to, for no other reason than I love the images they make.

At the top end of Brownhills, on the border between there and Walsall Wood, the Anchor Bridge is lovely at night. I adore this view.

The colours and light of a night shot can, counteiintuitly, be gorgeously vivid.

Quiet, contemplative scenes like this moor me through the winter until the light returns. Therapy, I think.

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#365daysofbiking Scum

May 12th – Again, the local canals were thick with organic scum – not just the usual azolla bloom, which is still persisting but has mostly died back now, but detritus and dead bloom heads from sallow trees that border the canal there.

It looks awful but will soon disperse, and it just one of several reasons the canal forms natural organic layers throughout the year.

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