For anyone reading outside the UK, finding places that you can actually go walking in was quite hard and still is to some degree. Being a small island with pockets of dense population and much of the land in private ownership by men with shotguns and gamekeepers, “Get Orrf my land!”. What woodlands there are, Cannock Chase for instance, are managed woods consisting mainly of pine and the Beacons for that matter. So finding decent woods of deciduous trees close to where I live is problematic. Whilst the “right to roam” act is now in effect that’s still not everywhere. Private land that was taken from the public and granted to some knobs family years ago for helping a long dead king fight some battle is still private, considering they “fought” for that land they are reluctant to get into a punch up for it now (thx Paul Merton, you were brilliant once). Access Details.
Having been to America, Seattle, and investigated purchasing property there once upon a time when a job was in the offing, I know that this may sound strange to those people who can walk out of their million dollar house, I could afford that now with exchange rate being what it is ! (he he he your money is worthless, but still more than Aussie dollars 😉 ), and cross the small backyard into a forest larger than what I am about to describe here separating one estate from another. You do have bears and wild cats to contend with where the worst I could come across is an Adder a snake so poisonous that it could take days to kill me, which is probably good considering wait times in casualty (ER). Although lyme disease is on the increase (wrap up well people, don’t recommend DIY surgery).
Anyway I was saying. Finding good places can be hard. Some are too well-prepared lots of parking, picnic areas, ice-cream van, arcade machines all the trappings of a commercial enterprise. Some so well known by the city dwellers that a quiet weekend visit is out of the question, Kingsbury Water Park, they even have a small gauge railway round the site now, still good for riding bikes around and bird-watching if you get far enough away from the main car park. But I went out to find Beacon Hill Country Park to take the lad to see where I did a bit of climbing that was close enough to travel to, the Roaches was too far.
On the way to the park I passed a sign to Jubilee woods so we got out and went into those woods, later we went to Beacon Hill Park and on the way back stopped just a little bit further up from Jubilee Woods at The Outwoods. Now this was more like it, midweek there was no-one there just the odd runner or two. My five year old son and me wandered about the woods and strayed off the signposted tracks. We got lost, I had no idea which way was out and the lack of traffic in the area meant I could not hear which direction the road was in. Luckily I had my GPS unit with me and my phone and MS Local Live Mobile, desperately low on battery the GPS locked enough satellites to find me and I got a bearing and found the way out.
It was so nice I decided to take the rest of the family out walking on Sunday. We purchased a brand new baby carrying rucksack from sMothercare packed some lunch and headed off again. Weekends are a little busier but you can still find yourself walking in the woods with no-one around. We walked for about a mile, which is quite a bit when you haven’t taken any Ibuprofen and your joints are burning. Best woodland walk I’ve been on for a while, now I’m desperate to find other such places to walk, that are located in the Midlands, any ideas within 40-50 Miles of Tamworth please leave a comment.
It is at this point though I have to say the Dog Owners need staking out for the crows. Just cos its a wood doesn’t mean that you should let your dog freely crap all over the paths made in the wood. In fact see the countryside code, dogs are not woodland animals and the food they eat hardly natural so can adversely effect the wildlife and environment. Just because bears crap in the woods doesn’t mean you should let fido do it too. PDF for Dog Owners.
Saying that Access for all is a good thing provided we all clean up after ourselves and don’t be afraid to pick up the litter you may see that some other inconsiderate pillock has left. You’ll be making the place better for everyone and really as you should carry something for your own waste, is that plastic bottle or that empty can of pop you spotted such a big deal to carry to a bin, I know it’s not yours but lend a hand. Better still take it home and recycle it.