Sunday, March 12, 2023

Saturday 11th March Great Billington to Tiddenfoot


7 Ramblers, 9 miles, led by Ruth

I nearly postponed the walk on Friday morning as I looked out onto a blizzard: but the forecast said it would be fine the next day and for once they were absolutely right. The sun, that we hadn’t seen in the previous week, came out, the snow had vanished and it even turned warm at times!!

The first footpath down the sides of some houses was a bit muddy, but once we got to the fields it was really dry. We turned down a side-lane in Great Billington, admired a tree house and a house with a small turret, and puzzled over this contraption alongside the footpath: Any suggestions?







We walked briskly and soon got the  river Ousel, following it for a few miles. Coltsfoot flowers were coming out, and a flock of sheep skidaddled as we passed them. We stopped for coffee at a fallen log. 




We then continued under the by-pass to a bridge crossing both the river and the canal. There was looked at the old quarry site, which was worked between 1920 and 1964, extracting green-sand. This was exported to Birmingham where it was used to make plate glass of high quality. It was used to glaze Crystal Palace, the clock faces of Big Ben and the White House!

We passed Cedar School, once Cedar House which was owned by Mary Norton (the borrowers),  then stopped at an information sign. No toilets!  We then reached the lake. This flooded greatly in January 2021, and there was a dispute as to whether the water came from the canal or the river.  We also viewed a drowned wood, and various water birds, including a Crested Grebe. 


The pylon gave us some entertainment: they are so huge close up! 


Next was the bird hide, followed by the Sands of Time path, once used by waggons and horses, taking sand to the wharf. We stopped for lunch on the convenient bench here.  We left Tiddenfoot by the ‘green bridge, stopped to see the remains of the railway tracks (our lunch stop in the background)


We returned along the canal, retracted part of our steps along the river, and then Ruth made a decision to go back a different way. That was a mistake: it looked fine on the map but it turned into an adventure. First we had to squeeze through a hedge, cross a stile into a mud bath, got verbally abused by three traveller boys, and having just got our boots clean, finished the diversion through a wet and muddy field. Heigh-ho … the benefits of reccying the entire route! Fortunately the co-ramblers were very sanguine over our adventure. 

I will put a 3 mile version of this ramble on the Easy-go programme in the near future as the Tiddenfoot Canal Nature Reserve is very interesting (and mud free!!)


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