|Water over water: on the left of the photo is the Coventry Canal,|
while on the right-hand side is the River Tame, in the low-lying
I've been walking on water - well over it, to be precise. Today’s Saturday Snapshot shows one of my favourite spots, where the local canal crosses a local river, and you can walk alongside water - and look down on water below you, which is a really bizarre experience.
|This photo was taken earlier in the year, when things|
looked very dark and bleak, but you can see the
structure of the bridge at the lower level.
|I found this old photo, taken sometime between 1930 and 1950,|
on the Staffordshire Past Track site. It shows the old toll house
and footbridge which once stood on the aqueduct.
I think there was once a tollhouse by the side of the canal, with a footbridge from one side to the other, but there seems to be no trace of either today, although I found this old photo on the Staffordshire Past Track site, and it does seem to be the same spot. However, there is a small concrete ‘pill box’ built during WW2 as part of a nationwide system of anti-invasion defences – you can see the openings where men (the Home Guard presumably) could shoot invading forces should the worst happen. The aim was to provide a last-ditch effort to slow the enemy by hampering and harassing them, but the buildings were usually in strategic positions on transportation routes, and I believe they were manned and used as lookout posts.
|The 'pillbox' built during WW2 as part of a last-line of defences|
Work on the canal began in 1768, so coal from Warwickshire and Staffordshire could be shipped to Coventry, and trade links could be established with other parts of the country. James Brindley, one of the greatest 18th Century canal masters, was taken on to build the waterway, but work took longer than expected, costs spiralled, and the Coventry Canal Company ran out of money, at which point it seems the directors fell out with Brindley and he was replaced. So it was not until 1785 that this aqueduct was constructed, and it was another four or five years before the 38-mile long route was finally completed.
|Over the edge: Looking down at the River Tame.|
A short walk along the towpath is Fazeley Junction, where the Coventry Canal meets the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, and this spot must once have been packed with laden barges passing by in either direction. There’s are industrial units and a housing estate nearby, but you can’t see them, and up on the aqueduct it’s very peaceful, with grass and flowers growing on the towpath, and a wealth of wildlife on the water.
|Wooden steps leading down to the Tameside Local Nature Reserve.|
There are steps down to the area down below, where the land on either side of the River Tame has been turned into a wetland nature reserve, providing a green oasis for the busy town of Tamworth, dotted with pools, drainage channels and a man-made lake with four islands where all kinds of birds nest – with the aid of decent binoculars you can see lapwings, cormorants and terns. The riverbanks at Tameside, which were once quite steep, have been cut back to improve the habitat and create a spawning area for fish, and the last time I walked through I was lucky enough to catch glimpses of tufted ducks, but they moved too rapidly for me to catch them on camera. And there are water voles, frogs, dragonflies, damselflies and all kinds of creatures.
|Another view of the aqueduct taken earlier this year.|
Saturday Snapshot features photographs taken by bloggers all over the world, and is now being hosted Melinda of West Metro Mommy.