W&B Day 5: Bourneville to Gas Street Basin


Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.
The end of the walk. (see photo journey)
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The final stage of my walk from Worcester to Birmingham was between Bourneville and Gas Street, in Birmingham city centre.

This was the first walk on which I had no driver. I left home on foot yesterday (28th) at about 8:15 and took the train from Worcester Foregate to University, Birmingham. Then a short hop back on the local train (these ones are powered by overhead lines) to Bourneville.

I took a trekking pole with me. I only carry trekking poles in two circumstances – if I’m expecting a steep mountain descent or if I’m walking through an area where there may be muggers. In the event my fears (having seen Alan Breward’s photo of a sign on his canal walk saying “Beware of the Somalian Mugger”) proved unfounded and no intimidating individuals were encountered on this urban section of the towpath.

There were only four miles left to go on this final day and the walk, even though through the centre of the city, was very enjoyable. It was quite sad to take the photos of the last bridge at Granville Street, having photographed all 88 bridges (give or take a few additions and disappearances) from No 1 to No 88 inclusive.

I spent a good while exploring the basin and its surroundings. I finally walked over to New Street station through the Mailbox shopping centre and then via the underpass to Navigation Street. Had a beer in the Shakespeare pub and caught the 12:49pm train home to Worcester.

The walk has been a pleasure from beginning to end and I would cheerfully do it again.  Next time I will concentrate less on photography and more on the experience.

See today’s photo-journey and don’t forget to read the captions!

W&B Day 4: Alvechurch to Bourneville


The chocolate factory at the end of the journey.
(see photo journey)
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The penultimate stage of my walk from Worcester to Birmingham was between Alvechurch and Bourneville.

Although a sunny start to the day, this was the first of these walks on which I wore a top with sleeves. The year is turning.

This stage features the only part of the walk I have been dreading, the Wast Hills Tunnel. At 2493 metres it requires a detour on roads of around two miles. In the event it wasn’t too bad.

For the detour I walked north along Wast Hills Lane and then turned right at Redhill Road and first left into Bracken Way. At the end of Bracken way I turned right onto Longdales Road, continuing for about a mile before turning left down Primrose Hill and rejoining the canal at Bridge 70.

Even after crossing under the M42 the surroundings remained tranquil and rural until the tunnel. After the tunnel it was back to the kind of industrial conditions I haven’t seen since Stoke Works, although relieved by some pleasant stretches.

It was exciting to pass the major junction with the Stratford-on-Avon canal at Kings Norton.

Bourneville is an interesting place, so dominated by Cadbury. I would have liked longer to walk around and explore the buildings and civic works constructed by Cadbury Brothers in the 19th and early 20th Century.

Only four miles to go now to arrive at the end of the Worcester & Birmingham canal, and hence the end of the journey, in Birmingham city centre.

See the photo-journey and don’t forget to read the captions!

W&B Day 3: Stoke Wharf to Alvechurch


Lock 55 on the Tardebigge Flight
Where the locks catch up with the bridges
(see photo journey)
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I completed the third stage of my walk from Worcester to Birmingham on the last day of August 2010.

It was another bright, sunny morning but quite a contrast with the similar morning in June when I finished stage two. There was a definite end-of-summer, autumnal feel in the air, with bright red hawthorn berries and rosehips in the hedgerows.

I carried on with my nerdy project of photographing all the bridges on the canal, starting the day at Bridge 44 in Stoke Wharf and finishing at Bridge 60 at Alvechurch Marina.

The highlight of the walk was the Tardebigge flight of locks, the longest in Britain – 30 locks, Nos 29-58 inclusive.

There were two tunnels to bypass, Tardebigge and Shortwood, necessitating various detours away from the canal. Although getting ever nearer to the outskirts of Birmingham, the route became even more rural after Tardebigge.

See the photo-journey and don’t forget to read the captions!

Worcestershire Beacon – at last.

When we first moved to Worcester in October 2009, I expected that I would pop up Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point in the county, within a couple of weeks. Well here we are in July 2010 and somehow it hasn’t happened – until today that is.

It’s been a very busy month but I didn’t want to get to the end of it without putting in at least one walk. So despite the rather dull and cloudy conditions I set off at 10:00am this morning.

I chose a slightly less-travelled way by starting from Earnslaw quarry, just off the B4218 Wyche Road between Great Malvern and Colwall. I didn’t meet a soul until gaining the ridge which was beginning to get busy along the tarmac path.

I avoided the tarmac all the way up but came down it to the main road, along which I returned to the car.

Not a day for views as the visibility into the distance was poor, so no sight of the Brecons today. I’ll be back!

See the photo-journey. Don’t forget to read the captions!

W&B Day 2: Tibberton – Stoke Prior

I set out on the second stage of my journey from Worcester to Birmingham on a sunny morning at 9:00am on June 21st, the longest day of the year.

I left  the city well behind and headed out along the canal into some glorious Worcestershire countryside. I encountered my first tunnel of the walk at Dunhamstead, having to leave and rejoin the canal. The tunnel is only 216 metres long so it was only a brief detour.

The last couple of miles proved a return to an industrial landscape at Stoke Works, built by the Salt King, John Corbett (1871-1901) for the workers in his salt factories.

This was a very enjoyable walk. I dawdled, taking lots of pohotographs (including all the bridges!) and covered the 7 miles in just over three hours. My final destination was the Navigation Inn in Stoke Wharf, where I met Jaqui for a pleasant lunch.

For more detail see the captions on the Photo Journey on Picasa.

A Brief Visit to the Clent Hills

A beautiful sunny June morning and ideal for walking.  Unfortunately I have a rather tender Achilles tendon at the moment (not from walking, I hasten to add, but from running to catch a train) so we chose to pay our first visit to the Clent Hills. These lie to the South West of Birmingham, quite close to a large urban area. There were a few people about on a Thursday morning in June but we didn’t find it too overcrowded.

We parked as high as we could get, at the National Trust car park by the Nimmings Visitor Centre. (OS Explorer 219, SO 938807). Jaqui was able to make it up the gently sloping path to The Four Stones at the summit of Clent Hill. We followed this route given in a National Trust guide.

The views to the East (towards Birmingham), North and West are magnificent.

Afterwards we had a pleasant lunch at The Fountain, where we ate outside in what seemed like a Mediterranean climate.

W&B Day 1: Home – Diglis – Tibberton

I decided to walk from home to the “official” start of this walk as it adds only an extra mile along the River Severn. The walk proper begins at the junction of the Worcester and Birmingham canal with the Severn.

I left home about 9:30am on a  gloriously sunny June morning and arrived at Tibberton at about 12:30pm. I was walking quite slowly and taking lots of photographs. I also has to stop halfway to put some Compede on the balls of my feet which still seem to be suffering from the effects of the Wessex Ridgeway in April of this year.

My feet problems may have been exacerbated as I was wearing new Bridgedale Endurance Trail socks inside a heavy pair of leather Scarpa boots. I will try some inner socks with these next time.

One of my nerdy objectives for this walk is to photograph every bridge on the canal (well, we all have our nerdy tendencies…). The bridges are numbered, beginning with number 1 at the Worcester end. I’ll tell you what the last one is when I get there. I got up to number 25 today, although a couple (7 and 20) were mysteriously missing.

The best way to get an impression of what the walk is like is from my Photo Journey on Picasa. Be sure to read the captions!

Project: The Worcester & Birmingham Canal

Now that we are living in Worcester, I thought it would be a good idea to walk the length of the Worcester & Birmingham canal. My inspiration has come partly from the book Walking the Canals of the Midlands by Michael Kettle.

The book.

Cover of "Walking the Canals of the Midlands by M Kettle

The length of the walk is roughly 30 miles. Michael Kettle Travelled North-South from Alvestoke to Diglis. He missed out the West Hills tunnel and the industrial part throuh the centre of Birmingham. I will be travelling South-North from Diglis Basin in Worcester to Gas Street in the heart of Birmingham.

I’m hoping to complete the walk in June/July 2010. Although the walk would be easily achievable in a couple of days, I’m planning to do it in quite short sections of about 7 miles each, dawdling and taking lots of photos. In particular I plan to take a photo of every bridge over the canal.

My Waterproof Jacket

Recently I have had to mourn the unexpected loss of an old friend – my Berghaus Pac-Lite waterproof jacket. I last saw it (that I can remember) in the car on the way home from finishing the Wessex Ridgeway in April 2010.  Here it is at the summit of Meal Corranaich on 29th May 2003.

As well as serving as my main walking jacket (it’s been up 60 of my 61 Munros), I always take it on vacation as it squeezes down to a low bulk and can be taken anywhere. I noticed it had gone missing when packing for a Canadian holiday towards the end of May 2010. I tried phoning a few restaurants where I might have left it but to no avail.

I bought a new one (a straight replacement, except it’s in blue). I can’t post a picture yet as the weather has been great recently and I haven’t had a chance to wear it. Can’t complain about that!

New Project: the Severn Way

This is my next long distance walk, 207 miles from the source of the River Severn to the sea of the Bristol Channel.

Under Construction: To be continued…