July 17th - I slipped out of work early to get some time back, and with a wonderfully hot, languid afternoon in progress I rode straight up onto the Chase, and barely stopped except for a well-deserved ice cream at Birches Valley. Dropping down into Rugeley, I enjoyed the long, cool downhill, then hopped onto the canal - a peace green sanctuary where the weeping willows looked stunning.
June 22nd - Up on the Chase on a lazy, hot summer afternoon. Gorgeous - I haven’t been here for too long, if I’m honest. A great ride down Rainbow Hill, the trails are dry, powdery and challenging, over to Birches Valley where the cafe and it’s pice list has been refurbished, then up Penkridge Bank, Abraham’s Valley, over to Stepping Stones, Milford, back through Shugborouagh and on the canal to Rugeley.
A great ride. I’d love to know what’s under that manhole near Brocton Coppice - guess it must be a well or borehole - there certainly aren’t and drains around there… and they really don’t seem to want folk getting in, either.
April 13th - Back up on the Chase for the first decent, dry ride in what seems like an age. Still the heavy wind, but a joy to fly down Rainbow Hill to Moor’s Gorse. Note the young bloke who overtakes me. He was absolutely flying. I topped out about 35mph and bottled it. He just floored it. Respect. Music is Lindsay Buckingham’s ‘Don’t Look Down’ from the chronically overlooked ‘Out of the Cradle’ album. Video is real time.
April 13th - Up on the Chase properly for the first time in ages. I rode up through Chasewater, Cuckoo Bank and over Rainbow Hill to Birches Valley; then up Penkridge Bank, the old ranges and Abrahams Valley.
It’s a good spring up there this year - everything so green and fresh. It was wonderful, although yesterday’s punishing westerly remained, making the going very tough at times.
I think my deer magnet needs retuning. They took one look at me today from afar, and walked off…
March 23rd - The Chase is still very muddy. This is a normal speed clip, from Castle Ring to Stonepit Green this afternoon. Top speed about 30mph. I was absolutely plastered in mud. But by heck, it was funn.
March 23rd - Out in the late afternoon to bright sunshine, but a fearsome wind. I had been planning to head to Hopwas Hays Wood, but the thought of the headwind on my return put me off. I headed north instead, over Gentleshaw Common, over Castle Ring, down into Stonepit Green and back around the eastern flank of the Chase through Upper Longdon, Farewell and Buntwood. The wind died as I was out, and although nippy towards sunset, it was a gorgeous ride. The CHase is still very muddy, though…
December 28th - Cannock Chase was great, but winter came in today; it was sunny, clear and cold. I really felt the winter in my bones. But plenty of folk were out enjoying it and it was beautiful, as only the Chase in winter can be.
The golden hour was enchanting, and caught the pines near Sow Street beautifully, as it did the heath at Rifle Range Corner. On the way back on the canal, the sunset was beautiful, and the evening light even made the canal at Armitage look a picture of tranquility.
By the way, if you’ve lost a cuddly stuffed toy horse and/or a pair of specs, they’re sat on a post at the back of Seven Springs car park. It’s unclear whether they’re normally together, or just met in their loss…
December 28th - Thankfully, my deer magnet was switched on today, although these ladies didn’t seem over fussed about food. They were loafing in their usual spot on the Chase, and spent ten minutes eyeing me up for carrot potential. When they realised I didn’t have any, they gradually drifted away.
I love these creatures. After all this time, to see them is still a delight and a pleasure.
December 28th - Up on the Chase today for the first time in ages, and oh boy, it was good, but very, very muddy and the trails were treacherous. Be careful if you’re up there yourself; some quite popular tracks are blocked by fallen trees following the high winds. It could be very easy to plant into them if not paying attention.
December 8th - I really didn’t know what to do with these photos. I spotted the deer in their usual place, but the unusually strong sunset made the images - which were quite long exposure due to poor light - an odd pink colour. I tried fiddling with the colour balance, but that’s not me and I’m not good at that stuff, so I made them black and white.
There were lots of deer about today; I saw fallows on the Chase at Shooting Butts, Lady Hill and Pepper Slade, but the photography was so very poor. It was also poor at Brownhills Parade, where I passed a large Red Deer stag and his harem in darkness at 5pm, loafing by the roadside.
Watch out for the deer if you’re driving locally. There isn’t a whole bunch of road sense, or any sense at all for that matter, in your average Red Deer…
December 8th - Not another bloody sunset? Sorry. They are very good at the moment, and I just seem to be out when they happen. The one today was incredible, but I wasn’t in a position to get a good shot. I’d gone up on the Chase, over Cuckoo Bank and Rainbow Hill. When the sunset occurred I was around Penkridge Bank, and couldn’t get a good view. But the contrasting blue-red sky was astounding, and positively lysergic, really fairytale stuff.
It was quite cold, though, with a quickening wind that was really quite unpleasant on the way back. The Chase was as beautiful as ever, and oddly deserted. I don’t know where the year has gone - can in really be the shortest day in less than two weeks?
November 3rd - Spotted at Birches Valley, a Haibike electric assist full suspension mountain bike. An extraordinary thing, first I’ve seen in the wild, it uses the Bosh bottom bracket based drive unit that seems to be the best such solution on the market. They seem to be a Raleigh connected brand, and this is about £3,500 worth of bike. Very heavy at over 21kg (46lb), I see little point in them, but the most astonishing thing was the owner abandoned this and went inside for a coffee without locking it.
To me, electric bikes are cheating. But each to his own.
BrownhillsBob biked every day for the thirty days of April 2011, part of the #30daysofbiking project, but enjoyed the process so much that he carried on. Over three years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.