Blue Sunday

My second ‘starting off at pub, and exploring the surrounding area’ type walk of the week, but this time with real life swans with just the one neck.

The sunny beer garden at the Red Lion was busy and I couldn’t help but feel that those who chose to remain inside the pub were missing out.  They were, and it wasn’t just the just the sun but also the wonderful sight of a pair of swans gliding down the canal with their eight cygnets. At one point the young ones were startled by a barking dog on one of the moored boats and darted back to huddle around one of their parents.

We began our walk by crossing the Lichfield Road Bridge (aka the Tummy Bridge in my house) to get to the towpath on the opposite side of the canal to the Red Lion. The next bridge along is the Hopwas School Bridge. As the name suggests it is near to the village school, named after founder Thomas Barnes. A lovely example of the local lad made good story, Thomas is said to have been abandoned as a baby, and discovered in a barn by villagers who gave him a surname to represent his humble beginnings. Educated and cared for by the villagers, Thomas became a successful London merchant. Had I walked a little to the right of the school, I would have seen the original schoolmaster’s house with a plaque reading ‘This house was built at the charge of Mr Thomas Barnes native of this place and a citizen of London in the year of our Lord 1717 for the dwelling of a person to teach the children of this village to read English’.

Instead, we kept on walking under the bridge and along the tow path. Something I did wonder about but couldn’t think of any explanation for at the time was the small door in the bridge itself. After doing a bit of post-walk googling it seems it might be a storage place for stop planks, used to block off part of the canal when maintenance work needs to be carried out. I think.

There was also some machinery on the other side of the tow path that looked interesting but again, I’m not quite sure of its purpose.

This, however, I did recognise to be one of the well documented pillboxes that stand in this area, defences against an invasion that thankfully never came.

Growing alongside the pillbox was a hint of what was to come in those infamous and ancient woods about which I’ve heard so much but seen so little, only ever passing by in the car. I’m pleased to say that Hopwas Woods lived up to my expectations, with a display of bluebells that put even my beloved Leomansley Wood in the shade. I attempted to capture it in photos, although they could never do it justice.

From then on I saw blue everywhere – the boats, the sky over the distant towers of Tamworth, a piece of pottery by the side of the canal and, after a big lunch and this short walk, a hammock at the water’s edge that looked very inviting indeed….


6 thoughts on “Blue Sunday

  1. Great blog Kate,The object by the side of the canal is a sluce gate to take
    water from the canal,In your picture with the blue pottery there looks like
    walnut shells ,was there a walnut tree nearby perhaps.


    • Thank you. I hadn’t noticed the walnut shells nor the little alien you pointed out to me in the email! I love how different eyes see different things, and I think another walk there in autumn, if not before would be grand.


    • Thanks Peter. The photos are fantastic and they make me want to go & do more of the walk immediately which I always think is a good sign. I particularly like the look of some of the churches, and also the stones & mileposts. We live in such an interesting area!


  2. There is a similar hole in the hole on Bridge 75 of the Coventry Canal (one of the ones between the Glascote Road Road Bridge and Fazeley Aquaduct), but it doesn’t look as high as this one. On the other side of the upright brickwork is a small opening, like an airhole perhaps. One day while I was looking at it an old man started chatting and said it was a ‘hayhole’ originally used for fodder for the horses that pulled the barges. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s a nice idea. I have got a couple of photos, but I don’t know how to attach them to a blog comment.


    • Aha! I love it – Pat solves one little mystery but the one that I thought was solved already actually might not be solved after all. I like the idea of a hayhole too & certainly warrants further investigation! Unfortunately I’m not sure how to attach photos to a comment either.


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