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Green open spaces
07 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
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West Heath Park on the August Bank Holiday Monday

Had another park visit to a park I've not been to before now. West Heath Park. It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. The park has these various portals to enter that look like Stargates. There is also a playground / play area with a basketball court. Good for walks, runs and cycles. Not far from Kings Norton.

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West Heath Park on the August Bank Holiday Monday





Had another park visit to a park I've not been to before now. West Heath Park. It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. The park has these various portals to enter that look like Stargates. There is also a playground / play area with a basketball court. Good for walks, runs and cycles. Not far from Kings Norton.


West Heath Park

West Heath Park is located between Longbridge and Kings Norton in the West Heath area of South Birmingham. Between Staple Lodge Road, Oddingley Road (at the north end of the park) down to Rednal Road (to the south). Paths criss-cross the park and there is at least two playgrounds / play areas. The first is close to the Oddingley Road and the second near the Rednal Road entrance. There is also a basketball court next to the first play area. Mostly just wide open fields with trees all around.

On this visit we walked down and around the paths from Oddingley Road towards the Rednal Road exit. Then headed up Rednal Road and Vardon Way, before re-entering the park from a cul-de-sac called Thomson Avenue (which has two paths leading in and out of the park). It was the August Bank Holiday Monday. 31st August 2020.

 

Parking on Oddingley Road, I first headed to the West Heath Park roundel / portal / gateway. There is similar portals, a bit like Stargates all around the park.

First view of the play area / playground close to the Oddingley Road entrance.

There didn't appear to be any children playing at this play area.

There was also outdoor gym equipment.

A view of distant modern houses down on Oddingley Road.

Passing a wide open field with grass cut at different levels.

It doesn't take long to walk around this park towards Rednal Road.

Another view of those new houses on Oddingley Road.

Spliting paths.

Another path to take.

The path to Rednal Road.

Up ahead was the portal exit to Rednal Road.

View of the Rednal Road portal from outside of the park. Next was the walk towards Vardon Way.

After the walk along Rednal Road, and up Vardon Way, we got back into the park from these gates at the end of Thomson Avenue.

View of the playground / play area near Rednal Road. There was at least one dad and his son here.

The path back into the park from the Thomson Avenue entrance.

Saw a squirrel.

On the path back down towards Oddingley Road.

The basketball court and some residential tower blocks under scaffolding.

Over the bushes saw this wall with graffiti all over it.

There was also this teenager hangout shelter near the basketball court and play area near Oddingley Road.

After this we drove to Kings Norton Park for the next walk. Which will be detailed in a separate post.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Green open spaces
07 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Arrow Valley Country Park over in Redditch, Worcestershire

Lets head over to Redditch in Worcestershire for this park post. Arrow Valley Country Park is located near Battens Drive in Redditch. In your car from Birmingham follow your SatNav down the A441 or A435. The park is off the A4023 Coventry Highway. Back in July 2020 for a walk around the lake. The play area was open again. Not sure if the Visitor Centre was open though.

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Arrow Valley Country Park over in Redditch, Worcestershire





Lets head over to Redditch in Worcestershire for this park post. Arrow Valley Country Park is located near Battens Drive in Redditch. In your car from Birmingham follow your SatNav down the A441 or A435. The park is off the A4023 Coventry Highway. Back in July 2020 for a walk around the lake. The play area was open again. Not sure if the Visitor Centre was open though.


Arrow Valley Country Park

Before the lockdown kicked in during late March 2020, we were thinking of going to Arrow Valley Country Park in Redditch, Worcestershire. But until lockdown restrictions were eased for travel and distance, we didn't end up going until the middle of July 2020.

The park was developed in the 1970s by the Redditch Development Corporation. The park is close to the River Arrow. The lake is home to the Redditch Sailing Club. The Arrow Valley Visitor Centre was opened in 2000. There is a playground / play area in the park. The park is on the National Cycle Network route 5. Which takes cyclists between Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Redditch (in Worcestershire) and towards Studley and Stratford-upon-Avon (in Warwicshire).

 

First view of the lake at the Arrow Valley Country Park. We headed around the lake in a Anti-clockwise direction.

Lots of trees surrounding the lake.

First look at the playground / play area. Looks like coloured pencils from here.

First glimpse of the Visitor Centre from the lake. Scaffolding to the right.

Play areas up and down the UK reopened in July 2020, but to a limited number of kids and parents at one time.

A wide open field going up the hill.

Heading down the path near a Cycle lane.

In one direction was the gate of the Redditch Sailing Club. Boats / yachts not in use seen behind.

Continuing around the lake.

View of the club house of the Redditch Sailing Club.

Another view of the many boats / yachts of the Redditch Sailing Club.

A wider view of the boats and club house.

Was more views of the Visitor Centre from the other side of the lake.

There was some small ramps onto the lake. For fishing maybe?

All the usual birds in the lake, geese and ducks.

Some nice reflections of the trees and clouds in the lake.

Onto the final leg of the lake.

Another view of the boats / yachts.

And another view of the club house.

I'm not sure if the Visitor Centre had reopened. There was an ice cream kiosk nearby but we didn't walk close to it.

Kids in the summer having fun in the playground. They'd be back at school by now.

There is more to the park than the lake, maybe we'll go again and walk around other areas next time.

There was also a view of a church spire in Redditch Town Centre.

Getting close to completing one lap of the lake. Visitor Centre again.

Looked like two lines of ropes in the lake with buoys on them.

I have been to other parks around the West Midlands Shire counties over the years. I might set up more projects and post for those (although might not be as many photos). Such as parks in Bromsgrove, Stafford, Warwick or Lichfield.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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50 passion points
Green open spaces
01 Sep 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Chinn Brook Nature Reserve in the Shire Country Park

Continuing on from the Chinn Brook Meadows, is the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve. It is a 17 acre site bound by Yardley Wood Road and Warstock Lane, with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal to the south. The Chinn Brook flows through here. Beyond is the Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course. The area is quite small. Heading to the north you end up at Haunch Lane, and beyond is Billesley Common.

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Chinn Brook Nature Reserve in the Shire Country Park





Continuing on from the Chinn Brook Meadows, is the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve. It is a 17 acre site bound by Yardley Wood Road and Warstock Lane, with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal to the south. The Chinn Brook flows through here. Beyond is the Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course. The area is quite small. Heading to the north you end up at Haunch Lane, and beyond is Billesley Common.


Chinn Brook Nature Reserve

The walk around the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve continues on from the Chinn Brook Meadows in the Shire Country Park. Located in Yardley Wood. The main entrance is on the east side on Yardley Wood Road. Paths goes around it and over bridges that cross the Chinn Brook and Haunch Brook. Eventually you would get to Warstock Lane to the west, where there is access to the towpath onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal which is the southern boundary of the nature reserve. Use the steps and not the muddy hill (I once tried to climb up it but slipped down and got mud on my hands). Another way out is if you head up the path towards Haunch Lane. If you want to, you can continue your walk around Billesley Common.

The Chinn Brook Nature Reserve is a 17 acre site, with a variety of habitats. In the 1900s this area formed part of the area known as the "Happy Valley", the working mens picnic spot. On Sundays and Bank Holidays, boats could be hired, and there used to be a fairground on the open space. Yardley Wood Bus Garage was the location of the original Happy Valley Tea Gardens. Since the 1920s various parts of the site had been used as allotments and during WW2 parts were used to grow corn. There used to be a BMX track in what was known as Cocks Moors Wood in 1986-87. Site improvements in 2010 including new footbridges and fencing over the Chinn Brook.

2014

This was during the Christmas Day 2014 walk which started in the Chinn Brook Meadows and continued around the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve on the 25th December 2014.

Information sign at the Yardley Wood Road entrance.

Enter through the gate on Yardley Wood Road to get in.

Shire Country Park fingerpost. Head towards either Warstock Lane and the Stratford upon Avon Canal, or to the Chinn Brook Meadows and the River Cole.

Heading along the path, the trees were quite bare of leaves.

Trees on the left.

Seems like branches lower down had been cut off.

This footbridge goes over the Chinn Brook and the path leads to Haunch Lane.

A look at the Chinn Brook from the footbridge.

A lot of bright sunlight over the green area.

The bridge on Warstock Lane. Beyond here is the golf course.

View of the Chinn Brook from Warstock Lane.

Also the view of the Chinn Brook as it flows into Cocks Moors Woods Golf Course.

A fence from Warstock Lane. The golf course is on the other side (I think).

Looking up Warstock Lane.

Heading back into the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve, there was two paths you could walk on.

A large green lawn that you can walk past.

2020

This continues the April 2020 lockdown walk into the Chinn Brook Nature Reserve from the Chinn Brook Meadows. As before entered on Yardley Wood Road.

This time there was more green leaves on the trees, as I had a look at the Chinn Brook.

The Chinn Brook is not where you dump your wheel and tyre! Take it to a garage!

Onto the path, as this point, not all of the leaves had grown back onto the thin trees on the left.

A blue sky with the green open space.

Growing in the grass was yellow iris.

Continuing along the path towards Warstock Lane.

After Haunch Lane, we headed towards Haunch Lane, and when I saw people who stopped for a chat, we took a different path to be socially distant from them.

Then over the bridge that crosses the Chinn Brook, with a bike on the left.

So lush and green around the Chinn Brook on both sides.

Yes this is in Birmingham, but it could be in the countryside. But it's in Yardley Wood.

The path to Haunch Lane surrounded by all these trees.

It looks wonderful and natural here.

Flats on the right reminds you that you are still in an urbanised environment, as we got close to Haunch Lane.

With the lockdown, the only place to see bluebells was your local nature areas such as here.

The Shire Country Park fingerpost close to Haunch Lane. Head left to the Stratford upon Avon Canal and Warstock Lane. Or go right to Haunch Lane and Billesley Common.

After this headed up Chinn Brook Road back to the car, going past the Chinn Brook Meadows.

Future Shire Country Park posts will include:

  • Scribers Lane SINC
  • Hollybank Spinney
  • The fords on Slade Lane and Scribers Lane

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
26 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A walk around Edgbaston Reservoir back in June 2020

Back in June 2020, we had a walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (which was my first in about 4 months). Although this time went all the way around in an Anti-Clockwise direction. Social distancing measures were in force, and the car park was still closed off (even before the lockdown). The Tower Ballroom has been closed for some time now and covered in graffiti. People out getting exercise.

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A walk around Edgbaston Reservoir back in June 2020





Back in June 2020, we had a walk around Edgbaston Reservoir (which was my first in about 4 months). Although this time went all the way around in an Anti-Clockwise direction. Social distancing measures were in force, and the car park was still closed off (even before the lockdown). The Tower Ballroom has been closed for some time now and covered in graffiti. People out getting exercise.


Edgbaston Reservoir

Click here for my last post on Edgbaston Reservoir.

 

In June 2020, we headed for a Monday morning walk around Edgbaston Reservoir. It was the 15th June 2020. Back in February 2020, I'd only gone around half of the reservoir (in the middle of a long walk from Harborne to the City Centre). This time was just a walk around the Reservoir, and back to the car on Reservoir Road. Was a lot of people out for their daily exercise, either going for walk, taking the dog out for walk, riding the bike, or taking the kids out. Social distancing signs were around. We went in an anti-clockwise direction (not sure if we went the wrong way as when I left saw a sign saying follow the arrows, not that I remember seeing any). The walk took around 40 minutes or more. Was the closest I got to the City Centre in 3 months of lockdown (at the time). I wouldn't be able to travel back into the City Centre until the middle of July. Could also see the Port Loop development while there.

 

Heading down from the Reservoir Road entrance to the car park that hasn't been in use for ages (the gate is still locked).

There was the usual gulls and geese out on the Reservoir, including on this raised decking area.

Nice reflections of the clouds in the water.

Was heading in an anti-clockwise direction past The Tower.

Midland Sailing Club on the right. Yachts on the bank of the reservoir.

View towards the dam (left) and the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower (middle).

View to The Tower Ballroom, which sadly closed down in the last few years and is covered in graffiti at the entrance.

The City Skyline is visible from here as well as the Edgbaston Waterworks Tower.

Some outdoor gym equipment coming up on the right. Although at the time (due to the pandemic / lockdown), I don't think people were allowed to use them.

Was lovely to get back out around the Reservoir again.

The new footpath was on the right.

Hard to believe that this is all man made.

The distant view over to the Midland Sailing Club.

Midland Sailing Club

Near the end of the dam, to the right you can see the Midland Sailing Club.

Some of the boats behind the fence, not in use and covered up.

You can also see the club in zoom in from the other side of the Reservoir.

City Skyline

From the far end of the Reservoir, you can see the view of the City Skyline over the dam, including the rising 103 Colmore Row.

With 103 Colmore Row to the left, and The Mercian to the far right.

But when complete, neither building will be taller than the BT Tower, which is still the tallest building in Birmingham.

The Two Towers

Seen over The Tower (to the right of the dam) was The Two Towers. Perrott's Folly to the left and the Edgbaston Waterworks to the right. Click here for my post on The Two Towers.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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60 passion points
Rivers, lakes & canals
24 Aug 2020 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal

The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.

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The Edgbaston Tunnel on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal





The Edgbaston Tunnel is located on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal below Church Road in Edgbaston. It is 105 yards long (or 96 metres long). The tunnel runs parallel with the railway tunnel on the Cross City Line. It takes boats about 2 minutes to get through the tunnel. In 2018, the tunnel was closed for months to allow for the towpath to be widened.


Edgbaston Tunnel

The Worcester & Birmingham Canal was constructed between 1792 from the Birmingham end, reaching Worcester by 1815. The canal reached Selly Oak by about 1795, so it is fair to assume that the Edgbaston Tunnel was built sometime between 1792 and 1795. Probably dug out by navvies by picks and shovels. Built of red brick, the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 metres long (105 yards long). It is well under Church Road. Today the closest exits with steps are on Islington Row Middleway (near Five Ways Station) and at The Vale (University of Birmingham student accommodation).

Running parallel with the canal is what is today the Cross City Line. This railway line was built as the Birmingham West Suburban Railway from 1876 until 1885. The Church Road Tunnel was built next to the Edgbaston Tunnel along with a Church Road Station which opened in 1876, not far from the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The station closed in 1925.

Located close to the South West Portal is Hallfield School and near the North East Portal is Sunrise of Edgbaston. When you are up on Church Road, it is a bit hard to see the canal and railway line from above (the brick wall is too high and there is a lot of tree coverage).

During 2018, the Canal & River Trust closed the tunnel, so that they could widen the towpath. This was completed by about May 2018. And now there is more space for cyclists and walkers alike, even with painted lines and "Slow" signs.

 

2016

First walk through of the Edgbaston Tunnel was during April 2016. I got onto the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Somerset Road in Edgbaston and walked up the towpath towards Five Ways.

Approaching the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. To the left is the Cross City Line on the other side of the fence. Above behind all the trees and shrubs is Church Road.

Canal & River Trust sign for the Edgbaston Tunnel at the South West Portal. At the time it has space for two way traffic.

Nearing the South West Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel. The towpath inside of the tunnel was quite narrow. So not enough room for both walkers and cyclists at the time.

This sign states that the Edgbaston Tunnel is 96 Metres in length (which is quite short).

The tunnel was lit up, so when you walk on the towpath, or have a ride on a narrowboat, it is not dark in there.

But as you can see, the old tunnel towpath was really too narrow.

Up ahead was a couple of narrowboats that were about to enter the tunnel, as well as a person out for a run on the towpath.

Just as one narrowboat entered the tunnel, to the right you can see the site of the lost Church Road Station.

Old Georgian and Victorian buildings on Church Road at Hallfield School. The engineering brick on the railway, always seems to get tagged by graffiti vandals. You can also watch passing trains here.

2017

The next time I walked through the Edgbaston Tunnel was during November 2017. This walk started from Bath Row and I went as far as The Vale before getting off.

Approaching the North Eastern Portal was this cyclist in an orange jacket.

This time I had a better view of the white building above the canal. The building is now occupied by Robert Powell Estate Agents.

While the cyclist in orange was riding into the tunnel, saw a narrowboat with all these flat caps and beanies on. Peaky Blinders?

Before I entered the Edgbaston Tunnel, saw a London Midland Class 323 train on the Cross City Line entering the Church Road Tunnel.

One of the men on the narrowboat was standing on it's roof as it went through the tunnel.

Now at the South Eastern Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel, the gatehouse to Hallfield School is above to the left.

Then I saw another London Midland Class 323 entering the tunnel bound for Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley.

2018

The Edgbaston Tunnel was closed to the public from January to March 2018, so that the Canal & River Trust could widen the towpath, resurface it, and install a new safety railing. There was towpath diversion at the time from Islington Row Middleway to The Vale. By May 2018 it was open again, and I went back to check it out.

This was during a long walk starting at Selly Oak towards Five Ways, Already could see the new towpath extension and railings from the South West Portal.

It was mostly complete, but was still some temporary barriers to the left.

There was a sign for Cyclists Slow as there was a ramp onto the new towpath and it wasn't quite finished.

Inside I could see that the towpath was much wider, compared to what it used to be like.

It seems like the tunnel is long, but it isn't, just a trick of the light.

At the North East Portal, a cyclist waits at the Cyclists Slow sign.

Was also a man running through the tunnel, while a builder in yellow and orange overalls was at the other end.

Went back again in December 2018, after the white lines had been painted onto the towpath, and it had all been fully completed.

A cyclist in a yellow jacket heads towards the North East Portal of the Edgbaston Tunnel.

Another cyclist and on the right was a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train on the Cross City Line (passing the site of Church Road Station).

Approaching the Edgbaston Tunnel with the new ramp.

Painted on both sides of the ramp was Slow. Pedestrians get priority in the tunnel.

Before entering the tunnel, Saw a West Midlands Railway Class 323 train go past, in the new orange and white livery (replacing the old London Midland green).

The towpath is now much wider, and even the lighting seems to be brighter in here (not as dark).

Slow sign on the ramp close to the South West Portal.

And another pair of painted Slow signs closer to the exit of the tunnel.

2020

In August 2020, I had my first walk down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in months (due to the pandemic / lockdown). Starting at The Mailbox and ending at The Vale (was thinking about Somerset Road but The Vale exit came first). Also my first time back in the Edgbaston Tunnel since the end of 2018.

A lady was running towards me, also had to let a couple pass me, due to social distancing.

It was a bit hard to see the at white building on Church Road, due to the amount of leaves on the surrounding trees.

A narrowboat was coming out of the tunnel.

Got this view from just inside of the tunnel as the narrowboat heading out.

Still the optical illusion of the tunnel being long (when it isn't).

A zoom in from the far end of the tunnel as the narrowboat was still heading on it's way.

One last look at the Edgbaston Tunnel as I continued my walk towards The Vale.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

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