Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Walking Hither and Yon

Continuing to research a number of local walks, in the last month or so I have covered some 60 miles on foot. Over stiles and fields, along tow paths, over motorways, through woodland and staring into the depths of a quarry or two, the diversity of the landscape never fails to amaze me.

Around Kingsbury Water Park is an appropriate title for a walk which takes us through some of the thirty lakes, along the banks of the River Tame, and along the tow path of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. In the main the instructions are clear and much of the walk, especially the second half, is self-evident.
With all this water about wildlife abounds, particularly waterfowl. From time to time you will hear an odd wailing siren, something which baffled me until I noticed a scarecrow-type figure on an island in the middle of one of the lakes. This oddity leapt to a standing position to coincide with this alarm. Clearly the intention is to frighten something (presumably the birds) away from the island, yet I have no idea why.

Earlswood Lakes were constructed to provide water for the canal. As a child I spent many hours in the area, fishing, cycling, picking blackberries, and camping. There are more houses today, and the pub no longer have a delivious ploughman's lunch on offer, yet over forty years the area has really changed very little.
The walk takes in some delightful views of the lakes and woodland, largely steers clear of the roads, with large stretches confined to field after field. At one stage the route ascends the railway embankment and the path crosses two railway lines by means of a wooden crossing. It sounds more dangerous than it is, for the line is fairly straight here and there are good views for half a mile in each direction.

Brueton Park and the Grand Union Canal begins at a free car park alongside Brueton Park. Parking is free here for four hours and, while the estimate is a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes, try not to spend too long enjoying the scenery for there is a threatened clamping for those exceeding the four hours. Personally I would think the powers that be should pay more attention to those who park outside the marked bays, on the day I was there the combination of school holidays and excellent weather meant many cars were parked illegally and made entering and leaving the car park much more difficult than necessary.
My personal preference is for the peace and quiet offerend by green fields and this walk does keep bringing us back to civilization. Crossing the golf course, a busy road or three, traffic along country lanes, a footbridge over six lanes of motorway, not to mention the outskirts of Solihull town centre and the park itself, are reminders of just how near the town we are.

Around Baddesley Clinton Manor House starts off with an excellent wander through woodland which, in April, was literally carpeted by bluebells as far as the eye could see. Before crossing fields the next leg does take in a rather lengthy section of road, something we see again before the final leg across many fields.
Note the instructions state to park outside the church, yet this is now blocked off by a locked gate (open only when services are held). Hence cars are forced to park on the grass verge and there is only room for four or possibly five cars here, although there are more spaces further down the hill.

Fradley Junction is well worth a visit even if there is no plan for a lengthy walk. A choice of places to eat, plenty of canal traffic to watch from both canals, with a wildlife stroll around a pool, and posts with recorded information on the history of the site.
The walk looping around Alrewas is basically a triangle. The first stretch follows the Trent and Mersey as far as the River Trent. It is here the walk becomes a little complicated, the way is not particularly well marked although there are few alternatives around the cricket ground and skirting the housing estate. After crossing the road the route across the fields is obvious, as is returning to the junction along the tow path of the Coventry Canal.

Although I walk in most of what the British climate has to offer, the unseasonable weather certainly gave every mile an added beauty. From the vantage point of a hilltop or ridge the landscape below revealed how the sunlight enhances every natural feature, while those man-made are simply scars.

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