8 January 2014

In the Bleak Mid Winter of Cuts and Decline

Main pathway into Park Lime Pits from car park
 As there are some long shifts ahead for the rest of this week and weekend, we decided to put aside a couple of hours today for a walk. We stayed local and dropped by on Park Lime Pits. Regular readers will know how much I adore this local nature reserve and the taste of countryside that it offers to the people of Walsall.

This winter although stormy, wet and windy has been incredibly mild and today would have been a pleasant day for a walk had the conditions been conducive. Attempting to walk on incredibly wet ground where the clay mud attempts to suck your sturdy walking boots off your feet is hard going and there is no let up. Even on walkways and hard pathways there are puddles and slippy, slimy mud waiting to trap you with each footstep.

Water levels are incredibly high- the steep embankments look positively benign!
I was saddened to note that there are many signs that anti-social behaviour continues at the Lime Pits. Well trodden paths lead to areas where only those with certain unsavoury activities in mind, go. There are now parts of this lovely nature reserve that are no-go places for ordinary, law abiding, non-exhibitionist people and for children too. It seems that all the hours of work identifying and assessing the situation, liaising with the local police and Network Rail were all for naught. Cuts in budgets and in staffing levels at Walsall Council mean that only rudimentary work is being carried out and much of the clearance work to discourage certain behaviour, previously undertaken by the Friends of Park Lime Pits was for nothing because for it to have been effective, it needed to be kept up to date. It hasn't been.

The brook that runs through the reserve was as fast and full as I have ever seen and it is making massive inroads into the banking. No willow weaving to keep the banks sturdy and strong.

The pools also are as full as I can remember and this can be seen from the level of the water line shown in some of the photographs I took today. No steep embankments at the lower end of the large pool and no decking platform on which to pond dip on the smaller pool because it is several inches below the water level. Despite the clearance of an old and damaged beech tree, the shrubbery on the edge of the small pool by the pathway between the two pools is in dire need of some attention. The view to the smaller pool and the hope of seeing the resident kingfisher is constrained by the abundance of willows that have set strong, even in the bleak mid winter. Come spring there will be no view at all.

Towards the small pool, getting difficult to see
Turning to the canal the walking didn't get any easier as can be seen and I worry as to the safety of Riddians Bridge. The sandbagging of the edge of the canal in an attempt to hold up the embankment and keep the water where it should be, is holding well as a two year old temporary measure but alas there is now a huge stretch of canal that requires attention before all of the water in the canal pours into adjacent fields.

Although I enjoyed the walk today particularly as the small birds were in abundance, their song a joy to hear and we even had the pleasure of spotting a yellowhammer, I couldn't help but feel the gradual decline of these places I love, through neglect, wanton or otherwise. What I feared is coming to fruition, only much sooner that I feared.

The farmer's compost heap gets larger, a home for all sorts of insects

Rushall Church through the trees

I'm always amazed that this very old beech tree manages not just to survive but to thrive despite the damage to its heart

Cycling could prove difficult along here

Riddians Bridge - looking like it needs some TLC

1 comment:

  1. i had a pleasant walk around there on Saturday morning. I did however watch as an open backed pickup pulled in, then upon noticing me swung around and drove away. It left me wondering how long before the fly tippers blight the site.