July 22nd - I had to do a favour on my way home from work, so I returned from Walsall through Pelsall and hopped on to the old railway line across the common at Brownhills. Although half of it’s length is a cycle way and part of National Route 5, the northern section to Brownhills West is not. Whilst the southern section is surfaced and a little overgrown, it’s unofficial section is open and a green, a verdant arcade. On this balmy summer evening, this greenway was shady and cool, and full of bird and animal life. A real gem, and relatively unknown to all but Brownhillians.
February 5th - The cycleways of Telford were beautiful this morning. It was snowing, lightly, but the sun was out, and snow lingered in the shadier hollows and hushed my noisy wheels. Telford’s bike tracks are legendary, but not well signposted or even mapped. Now they’ve matured, they’re often very secluded, almost hidden. I could have ridden around here for hours. Just for the quiet, the air, and the light.
A diamond in the dust.
December 2nd - I was still knackered from the past few days, and couldn’t raise the wherewithal to get out until after dark. When I did, by jove, was it parky. There was a thickening ground frost, but it was still and the bike went quickly. I spun out to the common and headed down the old railway line in the darkness. On the way, I startled a group of red deer does who were stomping and snorting together for warmth on the shelter of the cycle track; my light picked our the vapour of their breath as they fled down the embankment. On the old cement works bridge, it was silent, and over the factory yards and forgotten corners of Apex Road and the industrial estates nearby it was also eerily quiet. Looping back through Clayhanger, the night was dark, but the lights where on at the chapel and it looked great over the fields. After what seems like the longest autumn ever, it’s now cold, clear, crystal winter. This is more like it…
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.
January 15th - I have to keep rolling. Despite feeling a bit grim, I embarked on a chilly ride around Brownhills, Chasewater and Hammerwich. The ice tyres made short work of the icy puddles and frozen track mud, and it was quite a blast. As I approached what has now been christened ‘Slough Railway Bridge’ in a sudden fit of bridge nameplate renewal by British Waterways, I noted something I’d been meaning to feature here for a while. Many folk don’t realise what the channel on the right of this flight of steps is for - it’s to push your bicycle up to the cycle track above from the towpath below. It’s only been installed in the last few years, and certainly makes the climb easier, and provides a trick challenge for the BMX kids. I see more an more of these about, and a fine thing they are, too.
I don’t care what British Waterways call it, it’ll always be the Cement Works Bridge to me…