27th May 2013 ….
Out on the bike today – the first time for what seems like ages. I’d decided to pay a flying visit to the Caldmore Village festival, being held in Palfrey Park, so the first leg of my ride was along the Walsall canal into town, and then through Queen Street cemetery. On the way through I stopped and paid my respects to Sister Dora :
It always saddens me that the final resting place of one of the town’s most loved people lies in such a grotty, run-down place . . . .
The Village festival was OK – I watched a few bands do their stuff on the stage, and mooched around the stalls. It seemed very quiet, maybe I’d shown up a little early. The taped off Football goals in the area in front of the main stage gave me a chuckle . . . .
Cracking on, I made my way by road to Tame Valley Parkway Railway Station, where I gained access to the Tame Valley canal. Straight, elevated and very urban, the Tame Valley stretch isn’t on the favourites list of most people, but I like it.
On reaching Rushall junction I headed towards Walsall on the Rushall canal. This stretch of “cut” is arrow straight, but gorgeous. Even though it skirts the suburbs of the town it still maintains a semi-rural feel.
At Longwood junction I took to the road to avoid a section of towpath that is truly awful to cycle on – don’t try it – it’ll loosen your fillings ! !
A quick diversion through Aldridge on the bypass, and once again I was back on the towpath, this time on the Daw End branch. The canalside in Brownhills was teeming with folk fishing, canoeing, dog-walking, and generally enjoying the fine Bank Holiday weather. There were lots of geese on the water, with their young in tow.
Leaving the towpath at the Jolly Collier bridge, I made my way by road to the Anglesey Arm canal at Middleton bridge, then on to Chasewater. I’ve not been here for a while – on my last visit the reservoir was almost empty, as work was being carried out on the dam wall. Today I was happy to see the water level was much more healthy – almost overflowing……..
The locals were out in force, enjoying the sunshine while it lasted. Dodging small children on cycles was very much the order of the day here, but it was nice to see them enjoying themselves. I was also treated to a great display of synchronised arse-waving by a couple of the local feathered inhabitants ! !
A dreary ride along a windswept, busy A5, followed by a gentle hill-climb up into Cheslyn Hay, and I arrived at the Wyrley & Essington Branch Canal local nature reserve. I love this place. I generally visit here on foot, and a wander along its length can take a couple of hours. On a bike the whole lot can flash by in less than 30 minutes, so I always take time to snap a few photographs, and generally take in the gorgeous scenery. It’s all looking very lush and green at the moment – perfect . . . .
At the end of the nature reserve I followed the footpath, which was once also the site of the Wyrley & Essington Branch canal, through Mossley estate to Sneyd Wharf, where I once again joined the Wyrley & Essington for the last few miles back home. On my arrival at my front door a quick check of my Garmin SatNav informed me that I’d clocked up just under 34 miles. I was happy with this – I could have stayed out longer and clocked up a dozen or so few miles, but I’d wanted to take it steady, being as I’d been out of the saddle for a while. My legs felt good – all the walking I’ve been doing recently has kept them in trim – but tired. Obviously my stamina has suffered, but I’ll get that back over the next few months, hopefully . . . .
A GPS track of my ride, including lots of trivial stats, can be seen HERE…..