March 7th - A great afternoon, although the wind was still very fresh. I returned via Chasewater, which was surprisingly deserted. I noticed the wakeboarding equipment had been set up for the new season, and the lake was still overflowing into the spillway. Waves broke against the southern shore with some anger and splashed any incautious walker.
The canal also looked fine as I returned to Brownhills with the sun warm on my back. This early spring is gorgeous, and it’s just what the doctor ordered - but I still can’t get the frightening thought out of my head that at the end of March last year we had the heaviest snowfalls for years.
One thing about Britain I really love: no two seasons are ever the same.
February 23rd - I was grey and very, very windy when I headed to Chasewater, but it still felt springlike as it was very warm for the time of year. Chasewater was very choppy and largely deserted, but heading back over a drying-out Brownhills Common I noted the paths and tracks were already beginning to self-heal from the felling activity here a few weeks before. I also noted some great information signs, the most interesting point on which was that the felled wood was being used locally.
This whole project has been beset by poor communications, and had some of this information been available at the outset, much of the hysterical reaction to the works could have surely been prevented.
Hopping on the cycleway at Engine Lane, I noticed someone has been hard at work there, cutting down the undergrowth and overhanging bushes and opened the whole track out - nice one.
Wonder who was responsible for that? Whoever it was, I salute them.
February 23rd - There’s enterprise for you. I noticed this van parked up at Chasewater Basin, and it seems to belong to the owner of the narrowboat moored nearby. It never occurred to me that boaters may need a chimney sweep. But advertising the wedding gig? Canny.
February 2nd - As I got back to the Innovation Centre at 5:25, I caught sight of the lights reflecting on the boating lake, and just had to take a picture. It was then I realised it was only just coming on to dusk. In January, we clawed back about an hour from the darkness, and all the time the rate of change is increasing.
February 2nd - It was a gorgeous day, much better than of late, but I was sadly confined to sorting out the computer for most of it. I slipped out for a quick spin around Chasewater at 4pm and caught a good sunset. Everything was still dripping with mud, of course; the going on the towpaths and trails is chewy, to say the least; but there was a chill and hardness in the air that suggested the warm, wetter weather might be on the way out.
The canal sluice is still closed and Chasewater is still overflowing into the spillway.
January 30th - The return was equally wet and grey - but did have the added excitement of wet, sleety snow. The sluices are still shut at Chasewater, and everything is still sodden and muddy. The photography was awful. I was glad to get home.
It was nice to see Morris in the snow though, even if it was very short lived…
January 24th - Chasewater is still in overflow. This fascinates me - there has clearly been a deliberate decision to let the lake overtop the spillway rather than open the valve and let it flow into the canal. This is interesting, as had the water gone into the canal, the canal would have overflowed into the same culvert system, which feeds the Crane Brook. I must take a look at the crane brook when I can to see how it’s affected.
The flow from the breakwater is moving along the floor of the spillway, and into the new culvert system under the Victorian outfall. I guess that’s helping to irrigate the marsh there (as if it needed it, but you never know).
Exactly the same happened this time last year. Perhaps it’s some kind of stress test. It does mean however, that the two narrowboats moored in Anglesey Basin remain quiet on the relatively still canal…
January 19th - A beautiful day. After some time spannering the bike to cure the previous weekend’s mechanical ills, I took a sunset run out over Chasewater, down through Burntwood and Hammerwich, back up to Pipe Hill, and returned via Wall, Chesterfield and Hilton. It was a fine, cold winter ride.
Chasewater, as I predicted yesterday, is now overflowing and irrigating the spillway. If you want to see this (and it’s worth taking a look), get there quickly, as I suspect it won’t be allowed to overflow for too long.
The gull roost seemed huge and was growing steadily as I cycled away. The view from Wall churchyard was as lovely as ever, and I was joined by a very affectionate and playful young ginger cat. I tried to take his picture, but he just couldn’t be still.
It was a gorgeous ride on a lovely evening. Let’s have some more of this, please.
January 17th - Chasewater is brim full, in the most literal sense. When I passed this afternoon, the water was lapping gently at the top of the breakwater, but not quite overflowing yet. Given rain tonight and the continued filling from the creeks and springs nearby, and the spillway will be functional again in a day or so.
January 12th - The day, which had started beautifully, turned to grey murkiness before I got free. The mechanical issues of the previous day were still dogging the bike as I headed out to Chasewater. The canal was quiet, but Chasewater itself, surprisingly busy. A light mist dwelled in the air, and drizzle came and went.
I notice the lake is mage 50-60mm off full again; just as it was at this time last year. I’m wondering if they’ll let it overflow again, maybe as a test. Perhaps the lake is just being used as a storm buffer for a while.
Fly Creek, where the boardwalk crosses is flooded, but the steps are currently being rebuilt anyway, so probably best not go that way for a while. Crossing it on a bike was fun.
I came back over the common, which is showing evidence of wind damage. I also noted that the conifer saplings are still growing and choking the heather on the heath. Let’s hope removing those is a priority for the heathland management work to come.
January 4th - I’d been down to Stonnall on a fairly uninspiring ride; the weather was far more settled, the wind had dropped, but everywhere is still sodden. I couldn’t find a decent picture. Then, as I cycled up the Chester Road and over the brow of the hill, I realised we we in for a good sunset. I immediately decided to head for Chasewater, to try and catch it. On the way there, I realised it would be nearly over when I got there, so captured views along the way.
I do hope this is the start of a more settle period, but somehow, I doubt it.
December 26th - It looked like it was a fine cycling morning, but in reality, it was horrid, even by my standards. Everywhere is sodden, and a simple ride to Chasewater was awful - the towpaths were nothing but slippery, greasy mud, and the trails in the park itself were even worse. I was plastered in muck from just a short ride, and it was heavy going, to boot.
I did notice, however, that Chasewater is filling well right now, and is fuller than it has been for quite some time. It’s currently about 400mm off full, and this shows at the spillway weir at the back of the Nine-Foot pool as well as on the gauge scale on the pier. I wonder if they’ll let it overflow into the spillway again, like they did this time last year?
It’s good to see the place looking so healthy again. But we do need a few dry days to let the landscape drain a bit…
December 24th - It all went a bit astray. Time was tight, I had stuff to do. I wanted to get a good ride in, but the wind at lunchtime was punishing. I was visited by the p*nct*r* fairy. Then I caught the squall at Chasewater.
The skies darkened, and the waves lapping ashore at the north end of the dam were something to behold. There was horizontal rain, snow and sleet.
10 minutes later, blue skies and sunshine. I just gave up and pottered home, tired and wet. I just wish the weather would make it’s bloody mind up.
That wasn’t a ride, it was an endurance test. Nice to see folk looking after the swans and geese, though.
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 two years down the road, he's still cycling every day and recording a little bit of every journey.