Heron in Galton Valley
I caught a lift with L to New Cross Hospital this morning, not to attend an appointment but as a starting point for a walk. I'd checked on OS maps that I could walk from there, along canal towpaths into Birmingham. It was estimated to be about 15 miles and ended up just a few hundred yards shy of that distance. It was ambitious, but I'd made sure there were plenty of bail out locations where I could catch the tram or train if needed. A train line seemed an almost constant companion to the walk, perhaps inevitable as both modes of transport need the land to be as flat as possible.
Amazingly only three locks (in one small flight) were needed for a change of level over the whole distance. A testament to the engineers of 19th Century.
Walking long distances gives you a lot of time to think and ponder. Random thoughts float by, most especially how lucky I have been to feel this good so soon after a major operation. I can only marvel at the skill of the surgeon that he was able to cause so little collateral damage, while still removing my prostate. I'm still conscious that I need to be careful, but honestly, I feel fitter now than before the operation. I also reckon that wearing surgical stockings help keep your legs fresh when pounding out the miles. Maybe that is why you see more athletes wearing long socks?
I wasn't expecting to see two buzzards fly past me on separate occasions within cuttings as I walked. Normally it's the heron that marks a good walk along side water. In the end one did appear and seemed quite reluctant to fly off, despite being on the same side of the canal as the towpath. I got even closer than this image before it reluctantly took off, squawking at me as it passed by.
It was a cracking walk on a cold, clear day. It was fascinating to walk through areas I worked more than 30 years ago and I even had a really evocative moment walking through Smethwick as I caught the unmistakable smell of a founders as it poured molten metal into the sand moulds. I used to inspect metal foundries regularly though very few now remain in the Black Country.
Walk Distance: 14.6 miles Time: 4:13 hours P:4 L:0