It all started well following a bold decision to take both dogs out together. At first they were pulling a bit but after a run around in the park, calmed down sufficiently to walk the rest of the mile or so.
The plan for today, after work, is to get the tram out to Bilston then walk back, mainly along the canals to arrive home around ten.
So, I leave home at the normal time and when my bus pulls up I get on and ask the driver for an all-day ticket for bus and metro (tram).
“We don’t do that!” the driver informed me.
I try the same on the next bus and this driver looks at his ticket machine then informs me that it’ll cost me £6.80. I whip out my phone to pay contactlessly, “Cash only!” states driver number two. I have no cash!
I walked to the local shops, withdrew a tenner from the ATM and nipped into a shop to buy something so that I’d have my £6.80 ready for my next bus encounter.
The bus number three (technically, it was the 94) encounter went well and I sat down clutching my combined bus and metro ticket.
After work, I strolled into Birmingham (1 mile) and boarded the tram outside of New Street Station.
The tram rattled along to the North West of Birmingham, past West Bromwich and Wednsbury and after about half an hour, deposited me at Loxdale, one stop before Bilston.
After a noisy half mile along the streets of the Black Country, a footpath lead off in the general direction of the canal.
The first thing that I noticed after turning onto the footpath was a couple of horses (or Osses as they say around here).
According to the Bilston Sculpture Trail website (LINK) these are not osses but ponies and were constructed by Sally Williams from scrap metal reflecting the materials traditionally worked in the area.
The next item that caught my attention is called Room and depicts a modern room complete with TV.
Finally, at the end of the footpath, was House of Birds. This is to remember that birds once nested hereabouts. This twelve metre high art-piece was made by Jamie McCullough.
A short walk under the Black Country Route brought me to the Walsall Canal which I joined.
A little way along the cut, I came across three youths on the side of the canal sporting a pair of long handled secateurs. Nosily, I asked what they were looking for.
“Some plants for me pond!” one explained
“Good idea!” I congratulated, and carried on.
After a couple of miles or so, I passed under the tramway before branching off, at Ockers Hill, onto the Tame Valley Canal.
I have walked along this long, straight, canal a few times and remember seeing osses tied up along the first section. Lo and behold, there they were.
Just to avoid any confusion, their names are not Lo and Behold.
I crossed under the Metro yet again and continued, past Balls Hill, towards the junction. of the M5 and M6 at Ray Hall.
I crossed over the M5/M6 slip road looking down at the slowly moving traffic.
My walk continued parallel to the M6 passing the junction with the Rushall Canal.
I changed sides before passing over more motorway slip road and continuing past Sandwell Valley Park where I noticed some construction work in progress.
My progress continued through Hamstead before ducking under the Walsall Road (A34) and coming to my first lock of the day. I’d been on the canal for eight miles and this was my first lock!
It wasn’t to be the last as I was at the Perry Bar Top Lock.
As dusk fell, I stopped at lock number 2 to put on my head-torch to illuminate my onward trek.
After descending seven of the thirteen locks that comprise the Perry Bar flight, I spied the bright lights of Alexander Stadium, home to Birchfield Harriers and soon to be a major feature of the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
I crossed under the M6 before the rest of the locks were negotiated before encountering motorway again at Spaghetti Junction.
I had walked the entire length of the Tame Valley Canal; all eight and a half miles and thirteen locks of it.
I was on very familiar ground now and walked another two and a half miles along the Birmingham & Fazeley to The Tyburn House.
A noisy mile past JLR and crossing, yet again, the M6 brought me to the foot of Castle Bromwich Hill.
A further couple of miles or so, incorporating a few twists and turns, brought me to the shops at Green Land, where I briefly stopped for provisions before the final leg.
By the time I got home, I had covered 19.6 miles in a time of 4:44:44 (honest) making an average pace of 14:30 per mile.
The walk was a bit of a slog but that’s how it goes sometimes. My feet and knees ached and I felt quite tired. Let’s see how I am in the morning.