July 14th - Returning from the Our Big Gig event in Walsall Arboretum late afternoon, I’d had enough of the traffic and heat and headed for the Goscote Valley cycleway, for a traffic-free, shady alternative. There seemed to be a fair few cats about, who in the way cats do, studiously ignored me, or hid. Loved the little black kitten near Pelsall, although Mr. Whitepaws, at Harden, seemed every bit the cat-about-town.
December 1st - A better day. I was off to work in the early morning, and returned from Darlaston in the afternoon. I was tired, and with a headwind, I opted for the shelter of the cycle track down through the Goscote Valley to Pelsall. Even still, it was hard work. Stopping on the old railway bridge over Vicarage Road, I realised the Pelsall was now wearing it’s winter jacket. This view of the village always looks so nice, but at this point in winter it always appears so barren.
June 16th - I ad to go to Walsall to pick something up from the central sorting office. The weather was atrocious - windy and rather wet. I bit the bullet at lunchtime and pulled on shorts - wet legs dry quicker than wet trousers - and actually found it to be warm and oddly pleasant. I cycled along the canal, and noticed the flowers were in fine form, if a little battered. Orchids and waterlillies graced the Wyrley and Essington, whilst in the Goscote Valley upon my return, dog roses and sweet peas grew in scented abundance. Not a bad ride, all in all.
July 26th - The Goscote Valley cycle route is beautiful at the moment. Traversing it yesterday on my way home I was struct by the profusion of wildflowers and fruits creating a riot of colour. Everything from thistles to vetch, ragwort to rowan is loud and colourful, just fighting for our attention. I notice that on the banks of the Ford Brook, Himalayan Balsam is proliferating. This pink and white, tall flower is an invasive species but is itself rather beautiful. It has a peculiar scent and smells metallic. Let’s hope it doesn’t force out any of the equally beautiful native species.
June 11th - Near national cycle route 5, as it leaves north Walsall at the former level crossing in Station Street, there is a second kissing gate near the pedestrian crossing. If one takes a short walk through the trees here, there’s a very unusual feature of hydrological engineering. The Ford Brook - rising in Clayhanger - meanders down the Goscote Valley being bulked by various water reclamation works and land drains on the way. Here, the main stream does an elaborate, snaking dance with a tributary source and they actually cross. This man-made bridge is also an overflow; in years past the upper deck rarely overflowed into the lower channel, but it does so constantly now. Many people think this is a weir, but if you study closely it’s double sided and the lower channel flows right underneath. I’d love to know why this exists and who built it.
A real curiosity. Am I the only person who puzzles over these things?
June 25th - I’m quite fond of public art, but some just baffles me. I have nothing against this steel cube - standing as it does near Ryecroft Cemetery on National Cycle Route 5 through the Goscote Valley - it’s just a bit dull. Possibly one of the few artworks improved by graffiti. The most startling thing about it, considering it’s location, is that it hasn’t been nicked for scrap. They’re an enterprising bunch round here when it comes to such things…
June 25th - Nipping into Walsall early afternoon, I returned on the cycle track down the Goscote Valley. Leaving the Butts at Mill Lane, I spotted this flytipping. Clearly thrown or tipped from the back of a truck, it would have fitted in a domestic dustbin. There is nothing anyone can do about this opportunistic, heartless vandalism: such a crime is over before it starts, and blights us all.
Some people are scum, and that’s all there is to it. I just pity the poor folks charged with cleaning it up.
April 26th - On my return journey, I hopped off the canal at Goscote, and on to National Cycle Network route 5 through the Goscote Valley. There are lots of horses tethered on the grassland here. I noticed this wee chap alsleep in a field nearby.
He’s got cute in shitloads…
April 11th - The Goscote Valley in North Walsall is often condemned as a polluted, post industrial wasteland. This is sad as although it suffers the issues of any urban green lung, the cycle trail that runs parallel to the Ford Brook - tributary to the River Tame - is a quiet and speedy way to travel. Today, my journey was punctuated by the sight of a kingfisher, a large male fox and a buzzard. Nature has a habit of surprising you.