June 8th -A sunny, but windy summer afternoon. I headed out to Lichfield and the east Staffordshire plains, but on the way, I stopped to take a look around Chasewater. I haven’t seen so many little boats on the water for years, and it was great to see. Both the sailing club and watersports club were busy on the water. So different to this time last year, when there was still very little water in the reservoir. A fine thing indeed.
June 7th - The new wakeboard facility seems to be undergoing testing at Chasewater - at least, the first line is now up and in use. I hope this will bring folk to Chasewater, and it certainly looks like fun. I’m actually surprised at how unobtrusive it is, really, considering the fuss some folk made about it. Had hoped the pier would be in for a bit more TLC than it seems to have received, but it’s still nice to see it in use again.
I wish the operators well in their new venture. Welcome to Chasewater, folks!
May 27th - Today was spent cycling up to Cannock Chase via Chasewater, then over Shugborough and back down the canal to Tuppenhurst and back home over Longdon edge. The wind on my return was horrendous, and very hard work, but the sunlight and greenery of the rest of the day more than compensated for it. From atop the old pit mound at Chasewater, the view is stunning, and very hard to capture in a single image. The Chase has a lovely emerald jacket on, and the dandelion meadow at Shugborough was lush and gorgeous.
I was relieved to note at Hanch that the wild garlic, which seems to have had a fairly bad year, seems very prolific at the roadside. It’s the only spot this year that seems up to usual standards.
May 27th - I noted at Chasewater today, work was ongoing on the new Wakeboard line installation there. Towers have been constructed on land, and look set to be erected soon in the water. The pier has had all of it’s handrails removed, and the steps cropped off. Engineers were also working on a floating pontoon.
I’m really interested in this, and am keen to see how it progresses.
May 21st - An odd day, I was at home until lunchtime, then had to nip out for a meeting. I returned late, and took a spin out along the canal to Chasewaer, and back to Brownhills over the common. The sunset and light were lovely tonight, but not golden. Everything had a soft pink tone, which was rather soft and charming. It looked best over water, whether it was the canal or Chasewater. A splendid evening after a hectic, stressful day.
May 19th - Up on the north heath at Chasewater, something rather great has been happening. From the existing path that runs over the hill from Norton Lakeside halt to Chasewater Heaths, there’s a new one been laid towards the lake. Well finished, it bends to the east, crosses a couple of really nice boardwalks and crosses Fly Creek, whereupon it meets the eastern path from behind the Rugby Club. A lot of work must have gone into it, and it opens up the north eastern heath to walkers beautifully.
For those interested, this is what Brownhills Common should look like: a mixture of heath grassland, deciduous copse and heathers. Not a conifer in sight and the deer absolutely love it, as do the resident maintenance crew, the cows. It varies from being wide open, to dense native woodland, and it’s teeming with life - flora, amphibian, insect, mammal and avian. It’s all here, and a fine work of conservation it is.
May 19th - A busy day at Chasewater. Linda Mason had posted some pictures of deer on the dam that morning, and I was surprised when I passed by late afternoon that they were still tree. Not at all nervous of their occasional audience, they browsed the scrub, nibbling the shoots off the birch saplings and generally got on with things.
If anyone had told me 20 years ago there would be red deer here, and they’d be this fearless I’d never have believed them. Beautiful.
May 18th - A late evening run to the supermarket, and one of the (very few) downsides of the summer was very, very evident; riding over Chasewater Dam the air was thick with midges and other bugs, which can be seen if you click on the image above. Glasses are essential to prevent them getting in the eyes, and they get everywhere - in you shirt, ears etc. Over the next few months my protein intake will crank up by a fair percentage.
Annoying, but one of the hazards of the season.
May 18th - I’m hoping a linesman or electrical engineer can help me with this one, I’ve never noticed it before.
Approaching Anglesey Basin on the canal at Chasewater, electricity is supplied to the dam cottages by single phase overhead lines. one of the last poles in the run has an anchor cable staked to the ground to stop the change in cable angle pulling it over. The anchor cable, bolted to the top of the pole, isn’t electrically connected to any part of the system, yet has a two to three foot long insulating piece fitted, with a pair of lightning bypass probes to create a safety arc gap.
Why would they do that? Is is a current limiter to stop lightning melting the anchor or what? Never seen an arrangement like this before.
May 17th - Interesting to note that the Wakeboarding company who applied to build facilities at Chasewater have wasted no time in getting starred on building their equipment.
Presumably, these concrete bases with tethering points will be anchor weights for the lakebed.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all works out. Looking forward to seeing the pier brought back into use, at least.
May 4th - A gorgeous, but windy, summer evening. Still taking it gently due to the sore ribs, I took a gentle run out through Brownhills to Chasewater, then back along the canal. The blackcurrant blossom at Home Farm was gorgeous, and my favourite tree is coming into leaf, at last, a sure sign of impending summer.
The Water level at Chasewater has been lowered to around 200mm - 8 inches off maximum, and the valve closed. I find this interesting; the overflow over the poor weather period was clearly to stress-test the dam, and presumably, it’s passed. It will be intrigued to see if they allow it to overflow on a regular basis - to irrigate to spillway wetland - or if this was a rare event.
A fine evening’s ride.
April 21st - This is momentous - the canal feeder sluice from Chasewater to Anglesey Basin has been opened again. This has caused a drop in lake water level of about an inch. It’s been a few years since that valve was properly opened. It was good to see.
April 21st - These two 18 month old border collie brothers were having fun at Chasewater. One was scared to swim, whilst the other couldn’t get enough. Every time the plastic bottle was thrown into the water, one dog would swim to get it, bring it ashore, and give it to his brother, who took it to their master to throw again. Teamwork. Gorgeous dogs.
April 14th - I was in the house all morning, listening to the rain and wind, dreading the afternoon ride I was planning on taking. Slipping out mid afternoon, what I actually found was way different to that which I expected. Yes, it was raining with a gusty wind. But the warmth was welcome and lovely. The landscape was grey and the sky dull, but as I zipped up to the new pool at Clayhanger, there were signs all around of spring kicking off; birds buzzed about with nest building materials in their beaks, swans sat on nests at Clayhanger and Catshill. I saw the first Heron on the new pool I’d ever seen there. Green shoots of lupin glistened along the canal banks. At Chasewater, the reservoir was still in overflow and the marsh formed by the overspill seems to be growing marsh grasses. Tits, wagtails and pipits flitted about. There were distinct splashes of emerald green on the commons and heaths.
I think that’s it, finally. The end of the 7 month winter is at hand.