This was a walk that was a long time in the making. We had started to walk this route back in November 2019 when we set off in incessant, heavy rain and strong winds from The White Horse Inn in Curdworth. We got to the top of Wiggins Hill Road, just short of The Cock Inn, when we decided to abandon the walk and take a short cut back to our starting point.
It seemed appropriate, therefore, to revisit the route and start from where we left off. This time the weather was dry. The walkers assembled, suitably distanced, in the car park of The Cock Inn in Wishaw near Sutton Coldfield. We divided into two groups to comply with Government guidelines, one group led by myself, and the other by Lynn Evans, who was also familiar with the route.
The two parties left the pub car park five minutes apart, heading north across agricultural land towards the hamlet of Grove End, before doubling back after around a mile to walk parallel to the M6 toll road. We soon entered the graveyard of St. Chad’s church in Wishaw, which dates from the 13th century, and which stands oddly remote from the village it represents. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions meant we could not go inside.
A kissing gate near Rookery Cottages led us into ploughed fields, which we had to cross carefully because of the deep furrows, and eventually we reached the canal at Baylis’s Bridge. From the vantage point of the bridge arch we could see the top lock of the Curdworth flight to our left. This lock had to be rebuilt to accommodate the M6 Toll road.
We turned right along the towpath and soon reached Curdworth tunnel with its historic ridged brick horse treads. Passing through to the other side, the towpath here is pleasantly wide, with vast open fields on the offside. We left the towpath at Broad Bulk Bridge and continued slightly uphill towards Wiggin Hill Cottages. From there it was a short walk along the road back to our starting point, where we enjoyed refreshment.
My special thanks go to Lynn Evans for stepping in as co-leader at short notice.
(Report and photo by Clive Walker)