Sometimes I comment on your blogs after you have visited me, however the comment you get from me may not be from the site you visited. That’s because I have more than one blog.
So here is a list of my other ones. 😘
Sometimes I comment on your blogs after you have visited me, however the comment you get from me may not be from the site you visited. That’s because I have more than one blog.
If you get bored here over there on the right under pages there’s some more rubbish to read.
Parking £2 a day
Sot’s Hole has over 5 hectares of some of the oldest woodland in Sandwell. It is a largely wet woodland which supports a variety of tree species. A small stream flows through the reserve and a small pool has recently been created, although the day we visited the ground was so wet any attempt to get close to the pool would not have been a good idea. Sot’s hole is home to a variety of woodland birds including woodpeckers, we only saw what looked like Parakeets. The marsh supports water horsetail and marsh thistle and in Spring, the drier parts of the wood is carpeted with bluebells.
No one knows where the name Sot’s Hole originated from, some believe it came form the heavy drinkers from the Bear and Ragged Staff public house who ended up in the woods. ‘Sot’ meaning drunk.
We started our walk from the car park at Sandwell Valley Farm. Taking the path at the end of the carpark with the farm on the right, bear right, keep the paddock on the right, follow the path. Sometimes there are donkeys and horses in the paddock. towards the end of the paddock there is a turning on the left, take this path keeping the paddock on your left. When you reach the tarmac path turn right. Cross the small bridge and turn left walk towards the metal cattle gate. Follow this path towards Salters lane, turn left along Salter lane until you come to a righthand turn onto a grass path, (around 300m) where the hedgerow ends. Keep the fence on the right take this track, keep in mind that in wet weather parts of this track become very very muddy/boggy, I am taking over your boots boggy here. I ended up with a boot full. Follow this track until you come to what was once tarmac path turn left. Walk up hill, the take the first turning right and if you are lucky you will see the cute pony in the field. Take the first left turning and go through the kissing gate by the school, walk across the carpark and turn left onto Dagger Lanes. Turn right walk down hill until you reach the ornate decorated metal gate and go through the gate.
The path through Sot’s Hole is fairly firm, and the signs posts are some of the nicest ones I have seen. There’s a walk around the small marshland. Follow the Bluebell walk until you come to the steps by the county park sign , take these steps. Follow the ridge path down towards a stile, turn left follow the field boundary. Take the right turning, then the right, keep the fence on the right continue for around another 300m. Keep the fence on the right and the trees on the left, enter the next field. Keep the boundary on the right and walk straight ahead, cross the small stream and walk to the next stile. Bear left follow this track over a small bridge where you turn right and follow this path (running parallel to the M5) until you reach Salters Lane. Turn right then left follow this track back to the farm and car park.
Free. Parking on road
Barrow Hill was once part of an active volcano, The hill is a basalt intrusion which formed in the Carboniferous Period around 300 million years ago. Hot magma and gas would have spat
from a volcanic vent, and hot ash clouds would have been emitted.
The earliest evidence of human life at the site were two burial chambers (barrows, this is where the hill gets its name from) found on the northern slopes of Barrow Hill. It is believed to date back to the Bronze Age around 2000BC to 700BC.
There are supposed to be signs of the volcanic past in the quarry rockface, cracks full of white shiny crystals (calcite veining), The calcite would have been carried in superheated groundwater and steam which as it cooled would have deposited the minerals by precipitation forming the veins. We couldn’t see any. A pathway leading on to two further exposures of rocks show displays of hexagonal pillars that formed during the slow cooling of the basalt, we couldn’t see any, in fact it actual looks like a camping site, igneous rock and country rock ( rock into which the hot molten magma would have been injected), which then became churned up as the molten rock pushed its way to the surface, and an area of baked clay with a purple reaction rim in the lower section of the exposure should also be seen, we couldn’t see/find any of these things. It could have been weather related I suppose, it wasn’t a good day and the light was pretty bad.
During the 13th century an area of the Barrow named New Park was used as fenced hunting ground for the Baron of Dudley and his hunting parties from Dudley Castle. During the late 1200s the Lords of Dudley (as with so many of what must have been beautiful places), began to realise the wealth hidden beneath the surface, the ‘baron’s
playground’ became (as with all industry in these parts and what makes the Black Country the Black Country), an area of charcoal burning, which survived up until the mid 19th century, ironworks, quarries and coalmines. In the early 20th century raw materials began to deplete and factories and collieries closed down. Wildlife has now reclaimed the landscape but leaves us with a small glimpse of the past.
The summit of Barrow Hill rises to over 152m (500ft) above sea level. From the top on a clear day there are views of the surrounding area, The Wrekin, The Clent Hills and the Brown Clee can be seen. A large metal cross commissioned by St. Mark’s Church, (now sadly vandalised) marks the summit of the hill.
Many of the ponds originate from the water being pumped up from the mines.
Now the Hill is a home for wildlife and plants and a lovely place to walk.
Moat Drive and Hurst Green Road B62 9PY
Admission Free, free carpark park on Moat Road.
2nd entrance off Yates Lane off Cakemore Road
Nestled between houses, factories and motorway this park has a large area of managed grass and a children’s play ground close to the carpark at the main entrance, Multi-use games area court and football pitch. The park also has a small wooded area known as Millennium Wood. There is an abundance of dog waste bins but I didn’t see any rubbish bins, which makes me wonder if in summer this park is untidy. This time of year and with the amount of rain we have had there were only dog walkers there. I entered through the back entrance off Yates Lane which takes you along a small rough path and through trees it’s easy to think you are in the country not a built up area for a short time walking this way.
Cakemore Playing Fields.
Oldbury, B68 8BL
Tel: 0121569 3871
Car park for 11 cars
If you leave Hurst Green Park by the Yates Lane entrance on the right there is a footbridge over the motorway which leads onto Cakemore Playing Fields.
As this is a playing field used for football matches it is best to phone or check the website before visiting, on the day of my visit except for Tip Gulls it was deserted. There is very nice view of Rowley Hills from here.
Warrens Hall/Bumble Hole and Netherton Tunnel
Dudley Rd, Rowley Regis B65 8NA
Warrens Hall and Bumble hole lie next to each other and it is easy to wander from one to the other without knowing. I have always thought of it as if I am in grass, trees or open space I am in Warrens Hall. If I am by the canals and bridges I am in Bumble Hole. The entrance to the Netherton Tunnel is also located in Warrens Hall.
The whole area was once covered with industry, coal mining, iron works, clay extracting, coke furnaces and boat building the canal was a hive of activate.
Parts of Cobb’s engine house (real name Windmill End pumping station) still stands. It is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade II listed building. Built around 1831 It housed a stationary steam pump used to pump water from Windmill End Colliery and later other mines in the area. In 1928 the station closed. In 1930 the Newcomen style engine was removed and taken to the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
The area now is a haven for wildlife and walking. There are ponds, grass land, wide open spaces and the canals. History can been seen everywhere, look out for the pepper pots ventilate points for the Netherton tunnel.
The Netherton Tunnel Branch Canal is built under ground under several suburban streets and can be walked, which I did. You do need a pair of good boots as the toe paths are potholed and full of water and also a torch, there are no lights. It makes for an interesting walk if a little disorientating, because it is so dark so no points of reference it’s easy to think you have walked further than you have. The one odd thing I found with the tunnel was the fact I could see my breath in the torch light however I felt quite warm, even when I stopped to take pictures.
The Tunnel opened in 1858 to reduce congestion on the Dudley Canal. The existing Dudley Tunnel had become a bottleneck that boats could wait weeks to pass through.
The tunnel is 1¾ miles long and runs underneath Warrens Hall Park to the edge of Tipton. The Tunnel took three years to build and began by digging 17 vertical shafts of 8 foot wide, the shafts were initially used to plot the tunnel’s course. When the tunnel
was completed, the shafts were kept in place for ventilation.
There are supposed to be ghosts in the tunnel, what self respecting old tunnel doesn’t. One is supposed to be a policeman who was killed, the other the traditional grey lady.
Not a ghost, but I couldn’t not post this. I was attempting to take this, but it was just so dark. I have changed it to black and white, lighten it and wow I have a ghost. 🙂
Dartmouth park was opened on 3rd June 1878 by the 5th earl of Dartmouth and Alderman Reuben Farley. At the time a Budget of £300 for building of the lodge and £2,500 for laying out the park was set, and landscaper were invited to send in designs for the gardens. Sites were marked within the Park for a cricket ground, ornamental waters, and carriageway. In 1887, the 6th Earl gave more land to extend the Park so that it could have a ‘pleasure pool’ and a swimming pool. The swimming pool was soon turned into Bowling Green. A boathouse and boating pool was also built, in fact it was still there in the 1980’s I used to take my son their and row him round the pool when he was small.
In June 1923 the then Prince of Wales visited the Park to present, on behalf of the 6th Earl of Dartmouth, the freehold of the Park to the people of West Bromwich In August 1923 the iconic War Memorial was unveiled by the Earl and still stands there now. 1928 saw the first paddling pool installed, which came from Drayton Manor – this was followed in the 1970s by a tiered water play area which was still there in the 80’s again something my son enjoyed. It was removed T some point in the 90’s I think.
The park has a band stand, a restored water fountain and the boating pool is now home to ducks. It is till a nice park, but nothing like it was.
On the day we visited the trees were in there autumn colours and looked beautiful, see photos here
Hagley, Stourbridge DY9 9JH
On a cold and misty Saturday we headed out to Kinver Edge.
Kinver Edge is a a 250-million-year-old sandstone escarpment. It is now a nature reserve owned by the National Trust. It still has a network of cavernous houses carved into the three rocks know as Holy Austin, Nanny’s and Vale’s.
There are some fantastic views from the top, where the Iron age hill fort once stood. Indents in the ground are all that is left now and to be honest if you didn’t know that there was once an hill fort there you could be forgiven for not realising. A small area is covered in Bilberry bushes as wildlife habitat, tree pipits make their nests there.
There are three rock houses on the edge, the earliest record of people living there is from 1777 and people still lived in them in the 1930s. The site became a tourist attraction at the turn of the 20th century, the people living there decided to cash in on it and served teas from their rock homes to the visitors. The more famous of the houses is Holy Austin, in 1993 restoration work started on Holy Austin and it is now a tearoom and tourist attraction. We have visited Holy in the past however it is now pre-book. The other two rock houses are Nanny’s Rock which is a natural cavern, we have in the past visited but didn’t this time, we will return soon to take another look at it. The last is Vale’s Rock, which is on three levels and was occupied into the 1950s, but is now overgrown and we have never been able to find it.
At this time of year some of the trees are beginning to take on their autumn colours and there are some wonderful fungi to be seen.
At the bottom of the hill there is a small War Memorial to the lost of Kinver Village
There are many waymarked paths to follow or you can just wander. If you go at the right time of the year you can see the long horned cows that are used to garden naturally.
Photos and be seen on this link https://getoutthere4.wordpress.com/2020/10/18/kinver-edge/
Hawkbatch wood and Skeys wood sit in part of the Wyre Forest in Kidderminster, West Midlands. There is plenty of free parking.
The Wyre forest is one of our last remaining ancient forests, over 8,000 years ago settlements sprang up overlooking the Severn Valley, 300 years ago the forest entered the industrial era with coal mining, charcoal burning and milling.
There are trails or you can please yourself, we decided to wander and take the turnings that felt right. The woods have just started to take on their autumn colours at this time of the year. Follow the river through Hawkbatch and you will come upon Knowles Mill. In the 19th century this was one of six mills that ran along Dowles Brook, the brook was used as a power source rather than the river Severn as it was easier to dam and regulate. The mill would have been used to make flour for Bewdley and animal feed. The mill had several owners but takes its name from the family that lived and worked it for 70 years in the 19th century. Many small mills went out of business due to the steam powder town mills, but Knowles mill lasted until 1891 when the big freeze and flood took its toll. You can still see what is left of the waterwheel at the side of the mill, (which is now a family home). After a while we came to a turning one way would take us back to the car park the other into Skeys wood, we took the wood path. Skeys wood has a splendid view of Trimpley reservoir and one of the Severn Valley railway bridges. (a bit of a climb up a steep hill).
Photos can be seen here https://getoutthere4.wordpress.com/2020/10/10/hawkbatch-woods-and-skeys-wood/
Cannock Chase Forest
os grid ref SK 018171
Admission free Parking fees depending on where you park
Cannock Chase forms part of what was once a large piece of land stretching from Stafford to Sutton Coldfield. It was uncultivated land, inhabited by deer, wild boar and wolves. In 1086, (probably because of this) William the Conqueror declared it to be his royal hunting forest. In 1290 part of Cannock Forest became the ‘Chase’ when the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield’s took control of it. ‘Chase’ being the term used that referred to a forest being controlled by an individual rather than a monarch. The Bishop established a deer park and hunting lodge which was called Beaudesert, which means beautiful wild place. There are still deer on the Chase and soon there will be cows as they are going to be brought in graze, clearing land in the old natural way.
In the 13th century there where iron forges in the Forest. In 1546 a number of manors were sold to Sir William Paget, he soon realised that the area’s plentiful supply of ironstone, wood and water power could be used to develop the nearby iron industry. By 1584 Paget’s ironworks were producing 164 tons of iron per year. A few years later the courtier Fulke Greville gained a lease on 3,123 acres of woodland and two of Paget’s forges and furnaces, and by the end of the 16th most of the coppiced and pollarded woodland had been felled for charcoal. This destruction greatly enlarged existing areas of heathland, so during the 17th and 18th centuries it was used extensively for the grazing of animals.
In the 19th century trees were once again planted, but during the Great War trees were felled and the timber used for trench-building and industry. In 1919 the formation of the Forestry Commission was completed and planting on the Chase began again, trees dating back to this time can still be found today.
The Chase today is a wonderful place to walk, you can please yourself, or follow one of the 4 marked walks, there are many more that can be found on the internet, I have found nine this morning, and I know there is one that does the war graves because I did it many years ago. The forest also offers ‘Go Ape’, 4 cycling trails, Segway, dog trail, play areas, cafes and toilets. But really all you need is a pair of boots and to walk, enjoy the woodland, open spaces, views, pools, history, the place is beautiful and wild.
Baggeridge Country Park,
Car parking £1.80 for a hour £3.00 all day
Back to Baggeridge, this is a favorite of ours and other posts can be seen seen here, the history and here our last visit in 2018 This time we took the ridge walk, a walk we haven’t done in a long time.
After parking you have to walk back on yourself towards the road until you come to a small opening on the left hand side of the road, Gospel End Common. This first time we visited this walk many years ago the common was flat grassland with a notice saying it was being left to return nature, so it was lovely to see it had been left to do it’s own thing and is now full of wild flowers, brambles and wonderful purple heather’s, a lovely place for wildlife. Once over the common the walk takes you to the farm, go through the gate and turn left. Here you walk along the side of paddocks and tree lined paths. Now you have a choice of turning left or take a small detour across the field and down a small path to find the remains of old houses. Retrace your steps and join the small path and continue the walk, again you have a choice of staying on the main path or walking into the woodland, which is what we did. This area is left for den building among the fallen trees and has wonderful patches of bracken. After a while the walk takes you to some very steep steps which take you down to a small bridge and off the ridge.
The weather was still with us so we decided to take the walk up the steep hill to the top and the topper scope, the views from here are phenomenal, then it was the long steep walk down and time for home.
Broad Street Basin
1 ¾ mile one way 3 ½ round trip
Before heading onto the canal take a look at the two sculptures on the grass bank. ‘Round the Wrekin’ and ‘There and back again’ by Nick Lloyd. These sculptures were inspired by transport and are carved from Blue cream Clipsham Limestone in 2000 and originally stood outside the old Wolverhamton bus station and were moved to the basin in 2017. A short walk from the basin along the towpath brings you to the top lock cottages. Built in the late 18th century, they are surviving examples of typical canalside architecture, these cottages would have been the homes of the lock keeper and Tolls would have been collected from here.
In 1768 work began on a canal link from Birmingham to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The canal was built by hand by gangs of itinerant workmen known as navigators which is were we get the word ‘Navvies’ from, the bed of the canal is made from Puddled clay as this is a watertight material. The canal was built initially to allow for the cheaper transport of coal. The roads at the time were in such a bad state it made coal transport very expensive. The canal was originally built as a narrow channel following a circuitous route around obstructions to minimise construction costs. Future canals were built as wider navigations following straighter routes making the operation of delivering quicker.
Along the walk parts of the sign writing on the wall of the former Springfield Brewery, (now a Grade II Listed building) can still be seen, the brewery was built on this site for William Butler (Butler’s Brewery) to take advantage of high quality spring water found on the site. The brewery traded from 1873 to 1991.
What is now Fowlers Park was once a hive of activity, this is where railway tracks converged. The Park now attracts many birds including in spring, Willow Warblers.
Other interesting things that can been seen along the walk are,
The cast iron rubbing strip on the arch of Jordans Bridge.
Two girder bridges that carry several railway lines over the canal.
The imposing and beautiful Stour Valley viaduct which carries the main rail line from Wolverhampton to Stafford
and the north, and has twenty two arches.
The Oxley viaduct carrying the former GWR Birmingham to Shrewsbury line over the canal.
This brings you to lock 17 after which the canal becomes more rural, gone are the factories and bridges to be replaced by trees, wild life and some very cute baby ducks. Eventual you reach the final lock, lock 21 Aldersley
Junction, which was called Autherley No. 1 Junction in the past. This is an important junction between the
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and The Birmingham Canal Navigations and was opened in 1772.
This trail is a pleasant walk with a lot of history and things to explore, but there are some steep descents and ascents at the locks that might be hard work for pushchairs.