Perry Hall parkrun

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Going with the plan that I’d hatched earlier in the week, I was out of the house by a quarter past six walking to Perry Hall Park to take part in their parkrun and my forty eighth parkrun.

I had planned on a walk of around eight miles and being early opted for less scenic but shorter route.

This route took me alongside Heartlands Parkway. Later in the day, and during the week, this can be a very busy road. The help the traffic flow, the nearside lane is designated a 2+ lane primarily intended for cars carrying more than just the driver.

The lane is only 2+ Monday to Friday, 7 – 10 am.

It amazes me the number of drivers who are unable to read road signs and choose to keep out of the special lane – even though it’s SATURDAY ! I shouldn’t moan because when a similar situation occurs on the motorway with big signs reading “Use Hard Shoulder” most driver ignore the signs leaving a lane almost devoid of traffic for us literate drivers to use.

From the Parkway, I passed Star City and made my way to Aston where I passed Aston Hall and proceeded alongside Villa Park, home of one of the two major Birmingham football teams – the other being, not surprisingly, Birmingham City.

Walking past Villa Park, I noticed a thin strip of parkland alongside which I could have walked through instead of the pavement – maybe next time ?

From the stadium, I made my way to Perry Barr which is undergoing a lot of ‘refurbishment’ getting ready for next year’s Commonwealth Games.

Alexander Stadium, home to Birchfield Harriers, is to be the main athletics venue so a lot of new building are going up to house the athletes.

Probably, the most contentious change has been the demolition of the Perry Barr flyover which used to whisk traffic to and from Walsall over the traffic junction below.

To the right are the before and after views.

After negotiating the roadworks and the diverted pedestrian diversions, I was standing outside a pub named “The Seventh Trap”. An unusual name until you realise that across the road (alright, across the road and around the corner) is Perry Barr Dog Track.

With six traps for the dogs this seventh is the canine equivalent to golf’s nineteenth hole.

Walking past the pub, I soon came to the outskirts of Perry Hall Park and followed a path to the main part of the park.

As can be guessed from the name, Perry Hall Park used to be the location of a Hall which was demolished in 1927 when Birmingham Corporation had to choose between keeping it or nearby Aston Hall (it couldn’t afford both).

Perry Hall lost out and all that now remains of the house is the moat.

I had arrived with about half an hour before the start of the 276th Perry Hall parkrun.

I found a bench where I rested until the pre-run briefings. It sounded a little confusing as the event comprises of three different laps but as I wasn’t going to be in front I concluded that if I just followed everyone else, I’d be okay.

We set off at nine and I soon bumped into someone I knew.

A year or so ago, I had a couple of taster sessions (LINK) at the afore mentioned Birchfield Harriers where I did some walking with a chap called Dave Fall.

Dave is a race walker and runner but today, as he was coming back from injury, had decided on an easy stroll which was just what I needed as the parkrun was supposed to be just part of my twenty six mile training walk.

During the forty odd minutes that we took to amble around Perry Hall Park, we discussed all sorts of things but mainly walking, marathons (we both liked the Potteries Marathon and weren’t too keen on London) and the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

Dave had visited the building site that will become the re-vamped Alexander Stadium earlier in the week and said that he cannot believe that it will all be sorted in time.

Approaching the finish, I let Dave cross the line ahead of me and in the excitement forgot to stop my watch. By the time I’d realised I’d added an extra minute or so. Luckily the official time came through later telling me that I had finished in 133rd place in a time of 45:38. Not quick but most enjoyable.

With nearly twelve miles under my belt, I still had another fourteen to walk before I got home.

Looking on the maps earlier in the week, I spotted a path running alongside the River Tame which would take me to Sandwell Valley Park.

Unfortunately, due to some extensive groundworks going on at Handsworth Golf Course, the path became less and less distinctive until it petered out completely.

I ended up forging a track but when I came to a fence had to backtrack, carrying a ton of sticky buds which had adhered to my leggings.

With no easy way around the golf course, I had to revert back to the roads but after a mile came to an entrance to the sought after Sandwell Valley Country Park.

I wasn’t doing a lot in the park, today, just a mile and a half circumnavigation of Forge Mill Lake.

Because of my diversion to get around the golf course, I ended up retracing my steps for a while before branching off to join the Tame Valley Canal.

The canal is quite elevated along this section and on crossing over a few roads on aqueducts I was able to glance down to the roads far below.

Even though the canal is high up there is one tall viaduct, carrying a footpath, that it passes under. This may well be called Tower Hill.

After passing beneath a much lower bridge (Walsall Road) I was at the top of the Perry Barr flight which would drop down though thirteen locks to Salford Junction beneath Spaghetti Junction.

Having descended of locks, I was overlooking Alexander Stadium which resembled a building site – mainly because that’s what it is !

From the stadium, I crossed under the M6 for the first, of four, times today and after the remaining locks found myself under Spaghetti Junction (M6 for the third time).

From this point I switched over to the Birmingham Fazeley Canal which was followed for another couple of miles until I reached Kingsbury Road where I left the canal behind.

The rain that had been threatening all day, finally arrived in the form of a drizzle gradually getting heavier.

I did a bit of window shopping at Ravenside Retail Park and noticed that Go Outdoors had a sale on !

On very familiar ground, I covered the next few miles (crossing under the M6 for the forth and final time) without incident stopping off at a newsagents for some refreshments before the final mile, arriving home having covered over twenty eight miles for the day.

TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   28 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   1145 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   -145 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   1133 miles