September 28th - Up on the Chase on a balmy, sunny afternoon that apart from the colour, could have been May rather than September.
I came up through Heath Hayes and over Hednesford, over the site of the RAF base. I loved the new RAF Trail markers with the roundel.
Birches Valley was rammed, and not a hugely enjoyable ride - it’s hard to let rip when around every corner there are kids, or loose dogs… So I headed for Abrahams Valley via Penkridge Bank, and was relieved to see not just a deer fawn, but clear space with few people over there.
The pines are beginning to turn - another week or so and they’ll be gorgeous.
I hopped from Seven Springs to Stepping Stones, over Milford Common and Shugborough, where from the zigzag bridge I watched two horse riders cautiously fording the trent.
Racing back through Longdon, a familiar patch of cyclamen I forget every year until they flower, and they take me by surprise. Such delicate, lovely flowers.
It’s good to be back on decent weekend rides after so long waiting for the foot to sort itself out.
August 7th - A great day - sunny. warm, still - great Indian Summer stuff. After around 6 weeks of nursing a foot injury, it was time to push it again - a long ride and some strenuous climbing was in order.
For too long, I’v been doing only work rides, or short stuff; dropping gears to climb hills and generally riding like an old man.
I utterly punished myself on and off road; sharp climbs, speed, and plenty of honking (pedalling stood up). I was surprised at my energy. I seem to be losing weight at the moment, too, and was pleasantly surprised at my stamina considering.
Hopefully, this isn’t summer’s last yahoo and I can get some decent riding in at last before summer’s last breath.
October 6th - I returned to Cannock Chase as it was a much nicer day, and I still wanted to find those wonderfully photogenic fungi. Crossing the forest from Hazelslade to Milford via Birches Valley and Seven Springs, I saw lots of lovely things: the deer were showing well, the autumn colours beautiful, and some pretty good mycology. Sadly, though, the fly agaric were still elusive in all but the most tatty forms.
September 29th - I escaped mid afternoon, and didn’t have long. The sun was out, but there was a keen wind, so I headed up to Cannock Chase. The colours were brilliant, with a hint of a beautiful autumn promised. I saw 3 muntjac deer at Stonepit Green, and a herd of 30-40 fallows crossing the road at Penkridge Bank. There were a few folk about, but off the main trails, the forest was beautiful and deserted. Rainbow Hill, Wolseley Plain, Abraham’s Valley and Moor’s Gorse were all gorgeous, and topping it off, a clump of wild cyclamen at Upper Longdon. Autumn ain’t so bad when it gets going…
November 18th - My second attempt to find badgers. On Cannock Chase, In the dark, I found them. They were wonderful, but the light was too bad to take pictures. I won’t say where they were for obvious reasons, and I watched them way too long. I was left to rush home, back through the forest in darkness. It was brilliant, but very cold. All I could hear was owls, the flow of water, and small animals scuttling through the undergrowth. The Chase at night is a wonderful, full-on sensory experience.
May 20th - The greening is now in earnest. All over Cannock Chase and the Shugborough Estate, nature is doing it’s damnedest to get our attention. From Brindley Heath to Severn Springs, Milford to Haywood everything is a fluorescent, vibrant, verdant shade of growth. To be in England: can there be anywhere finer right now?
By the way: Cycling over the Shugborough Estate at 8pm, when all the tourists have gone is the way to see it. Hardly a soul, and very, very peaceful.
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.