#365daysofbiking Canal dreams:
December 7th – After a long day at work carrying out boring tasks, I left collecting a pal on the way. We popped in passing to Walsall’s Town Wharf, as the Arboretum I was aiming for actually had an event ongoing.
Town Wharf and the waterside here are gorgeous at night. Finally reaching potential after near enough two decades, this place has taken a long, long time for regeneration to happen, but it looks wonderful in the shadow of Walsall’s remarkable New Art Gallery.
Sadly, the state of retail being what it is, the centre of Walsall only 100 or so yards away, remains depressed.
But here at leat, developer dreams seem to be coming to fruition.
August 3rd – Spinning up the canal towards Chasewater, I noticed these signs have very recently been put up around the Wharf Lane Bridge area next to the canal, south of Anglesey Wharf, and also around the sandy area adjacent where local kids have made their own BMX track, which they confusingly call ‘The Sandhills’ – which isn’t to be confused with the area of the same name near Shire Oak.
The land was seemingly orphaned by the M6 Toll being built, and local youths have claimed it for their own.
I really am puzzled as to why all of a sudden Lichfield Council is asserting ownership.
July 8th – Always pleased to see the wild sweet peas growing around the old coal loading chutes at Anglesey Wharf near Chasewater. They are a symbol of change for the better.
As recent as 50 years ago, this was a busy, filthy and polluting coal loading interchange between road, rail and water. Coal was loaded into a continual stream of narrowboats and the sea was treeless and devoid of life.
The coal here stopped in the 1960s, and nature reclaimed – but the coal chutes stayed, a monument to an industrial past.
Now, surrounded by greenery and wildlife, they are an anachronism, but the sweet peas bloom and speak of peaceful, cleaner, better times. A lovely sight.
December 8th – As I approached the supermarket at Burntwood, there was a sadly short but very enjoyable whiteout. The snow was heavy, fast and think, and all of a sudden, my ride was transformed from a normal shopping errand into an adventure.
The snow stopped pretty quickly, but left a decent enough cover that made a familiar night-time view at Anglesey Basin beautiful and gave e an interesting and challenging ride back to Brownhills.
October 30th – Not a bad day for a Monday. I had to nip to a hospital appointment at lunchtime, so left work and cycled along a sun-dappled, peaceful canal to the centre of Walsall. Turning to leave the canal and ride on to Bridgman Street, I looked at the Town Arm Junction.
This place has changed beyond recognition in my lifetime. When I was a nipper it was grimy, surrounded by blackened, semi derelict factories; there was little wildlife and the waters were nothing more than a polluted stew.
Not all change is for the worse.
September 24th – I can’t make up my mind at the moment if fly agaric – the red and white spotted toadstools of folklore – are having a bad year or if I’m just a bit early.
I’ve found a few examples – notably a good specimen on August bank holiday on the Chase – but all the favourite spots like the bank before Anglesey Wharf on the canal at Brownhills are empty save for a few dog-eared or faded specimens.
This one at the top of the above bank seems quite elderly, as the spots drop off and the colour fades as they mature – but where are it’s usual companions?
They had an extraordinarily good year last year so perhaps it’s natural balance.
September 18th – Riding through the backstreets of central Walsall, it’s getting distinctly autumnal. I keep thinking it’s too early, but then, we’re very nearly two thirds into September now, so I suppose not.
Here on the corner of Charles Street it looked lovely, and not having been here for many years, it’s changed a bit, too. Last time I was here the flats on the left didn’t exist and there was a row of Victorian factories in some decay. I remember well a cafe here I used to use a fair bit.
Ah well, nothing stays the same and time keeps moving on.