I was due to take part in the Birmingham Canal Canter ( BCC ) at the end of September but went on a last minute family camping trip to Burnham instead. Whilst walking the Ravens, I was talking to a woman who had done the canter and really enjoyed it so I realised some of what I had missed.
A couple of weeks after the BCC, I was looking for somewhere to go for my long weekend training walk and remembering that I had downloaded and printed the route for the BCC decided to give it a try.
The ‘proper’ BCC started and ended at The Ackers Outdoor Centre but as the route passed close to my house, I started ( and finished ) near to Spaghetti Junction.
I set off along the canal, a little before seven, in the dark, wearing my Goretex jacket and headlight. On reaching Bordesley Green, after around two and a half miles, the sun was up and so was my temperature. I put the light away and swapped jacket for soft shell before continuing along the Grand Union towards the ‘proper’ start.
After four miles, I arrived at the ‘start’ and left the canal, following the River Cole, over the Warwick and Stratford Roads and passing Sarehole Mill ( inspiration for Tolkein ) before arriving at Trittiford Park. I remember this park from a particularly difficult geocache from a few years ago, hidden in a tree !
From here it was along a quiet road, passing under an aquaduct, before turning left and joining the canal at The Drawbridge pub and then crossing over the same aquaduct. It was canal all the way now.
|A left-over sign|
It was whilst walking towards Kings Norton that it started to drizzle, rain and then bucket down. Still, I persisted.
From Kings Norton, the route passed past Bournville ( home of Cadbury ) and Birmingham University where I encountered some ignorant runners ( not for the first time ) before arriving at Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham.
The stretch along Gas Street and the newly posh, Brindley Place is usually very busy but the rain ensured that I had the canal almost to myself as I passed the Internatioanl Convention Centre and the Sealife centre before heading for an out and back section to Winson Green.
On the original walk ( the ‘proper’ walk ) there was a checkpoint outside of Winson Green Prison where participants were asked to judge a cake competition ( let’s hope that none of the cakes had files in them ! ). Today I had to make do with a gel and a geo-bar 🙁
The route returned to the city and continued under the BT tower and down many locks to emerge under Spaghetti junction and a short walk to where I’d left the car six and a bit hours ago.
I had walked, run or geocached along most of the route but had never joined all the bits together into one very enjoyable walk, despite the rain !
I emailed the organisers, afterwards, congratulating them on the course and suggesting a slight alteration to prevent you having to walk the same stretch twice ( albeit in different directions ). My suggestion was acknowledged and I was also invited to take part in a group walk with the Heart of England ( HofE ) section of the Long Distance Walkers Association. I will be out with the HofE in November taking a leisurely stroll around Worecestershire.
I will also be walking the ‘proper’ Birmingham Canal Canter next year – on time and not fifteen days later !