Surprisingly, I was up a little before five thanks to the dogs who wanted to go outside. I had set my alarm for 5:30 so it wasn’t too bad.
After letting the pooches out and getting a feel for the prevailing weather conditions, I dressed my long walk. I did a walk a couple of weeks ago basically going out through Coleshill, Nether Whitacre to Hurley then back through Kingsbury and along the canal.
This week I needed to get around twenty five miles in so decided to repeat the Hurley walk but in the other direction.
After breakfast and loading up my Raidlight 20 litre backpack, I was out of the door by half five.
The first part of today’s walk was out to Castle Vale taking the path running between Parkfields and the Collector Road. After three miles, I turned off Chester Road and followed a small waterway which is marked on the map as overflow channel (overflowing from the nearby River Tame). At the end of the ‘riverside’ walk I crossed a grassy expanse towards Castle Vale stadium passing a nattily painted brick substation. The building had a painting of a building which could be seen in the background.
After a further miles and a half, I cross the busy A38 on onto the Birmingham Fazeley canal. From here, there route took on a more rural aspect as I made my way through the villages of Minworth and Curdworth.
The stretch around Curdworth was a lot muddier and I had to work hard to stay upright whilst slipping and sliding along the towpath.
I continued along the canal, crossing under the A446 and descending a few locks towards Bodymoor Heath and The Dog and Doublet pub.
It was along this stretch of canal that I reached a milestone. Not a physical stone but my first FIVE HUNDRED MILES of the year.
In just under eleven weeks I have managed to walk half of my #walk1000 miles and on the virtual route 66 I’m well on my way to LA.
I am about a week later than last year but I’m on target to cover the 2,278 miles of Route 66 before the end of the year.
I dipped under the hump-backed bridge at Bodymoor Heath. This event is usually accompanied by the tooting of car horns are cars announce their presence to vehicles coming the other way but this morning, nothing. Maybe it was too early, it was still only around eight o’clock.
The next section comprised of a section of puddles regularly spaced along the tow path.
An assortment of boats were docked up on the opposite bank which were passed on my way down to the last lock of the Curdworth flight. It’s quite a spread out flight with ten locks over around two and a half miles.
At Curdwoth bottom lock, I could have turned right into Kingsbury Water Park, but I continued along the cut for another couple of miles, as far as Middleton Lakes.
At this point, I crossed over the canal, did a small loop on the other side before crossing back. I could then have retraced my steps but chose a parallel path through the RSPB’s Middleton Lakes re-emerging onto the towpath a little later.
I scouted around Canal Pool, where the wind was creating a few ‘waves’ and some very choppy water, and the quieter Broomey Croft Pool. before crossing under the M42 which splits the water park into two.
The water park, along with the adjacent Middleton Lakes were originally used for the extraction of gravel with the resultant pits becoming pools or lakes. The water park opened in 1975 and expanded as more pits were abandoned and now covers around six hundred acres.
After around two miles in the park, I crossed the River Tame and climbed up to the Kingsbury itself.
I was now on the Heart of England Way which I followed along a raised boardwalk leaving Kingsbury before crossing the road to Nuneaton and walking alongside a riffle range.
It was all very quiet with no shooters out. As I walked around the edge of the range, I could just about make out the targets in the distance and they were a fair distance as I passed a sign for 600. Looking on the web, later, I discovered that this is six hundred yards – a third of a mile. That’s a long way to hit a target !
From the rifle range, a squelchy uphill slog brought me to Camp Farm on the outskirts of Hurley.
Still following the Heart of England Way, I skirted around the village to a short section along a quiet road to the unfortunately named Foul End before taking a bridleway towards Halloughton Grange. The last part of the bridleway before it became a road was through a filed often home to a Highland Cow (coo). I was lucky that the beast was home and I managed to get a photo without getting too close.
A track lead from the end of a short road section to Whitacre Heath. Back on tarmac, I continued along Bakehouse Lane making a short diversion to look at some Alpaccas before passing a beautiful picture book cottage.
I walked along the quaintly named Dingle Lane to Whitacre from where I left the road for a short stroll across a field towards Hams Hall.
I followed Fishery Lane, firstly crossing the River Blythe shortly followed by the Tame. In fact the Blythe joins the Tame near this point.
I continued, on and off, alongside the Tame to Coleshill Parkway. I’ve walk along here many, many times but had never noticed this warning sign from the Birmingham, Tame and Rea District Drainage Board (now part of of Severn Trent).
From Coleshill Parkway, it was just three more miles through Water Orton and I was home.
Not a particularly fast walk but good to get out. The rain held off although I got rather wind-swept instead.