The Cross City Line has been a bedrock of exploration since my University days, yet despite this there were a couple of it's northern calling points that I had never actually visited. Friday 5th April was thus designated as the day when Gravelly Hill and Wylde Green would join my photographic party, and as usual there would be a typically circuitous local walk along the way...
- Gravelly Hill Station -
Changing onto the Cross City line at Aston, I soon arrive at Gravelly Hill to survey the station for pictorial opportunities. The main station building is on the Birmingham side with a grey footbridge across to the Sutton platform. Paths provide access from Hunton Hill and there are also some steps through from Frederick Road.
- Brookvale Park -
Venturing out from the station, I was struck by the vibrant multicultural feel of Slade Road with its mix of Asian supermarkets and more traditional independent family businesses - the Brookvale pub was also an intriguing find with its 1930's architectural features. I can then enjoy a wander around George Road and Brookvale Park; it had been eight years since Roger and I came here once so a return look was long overdue and I was pleased to photograph the boathouse and the lake.
- Witton Cemetery -
Stretching my legs along The Ridgeway, I make my way through Witton Cemetery where the Memorial Cross was a poignant reminder of wartime sacrifices. The Anglican chapel is an imposing Gothic building standing on an elevated position with a slender spire that adds drama to the landscape. I emerge onto Moor Lane where the Safe Harbour public house is another distinctive landmark.
- Salford Junction Fingerpost -
Quite a few of my recent solo expeditions have contained a healthy canal element and this trip would be no exception. The Tame Valley Canal has the dubious honour of leading me through the bowels of Spaghetti Junction where the scenery (if you can call it that) is unremitting in its ugliness - even so I do have to admire the feats of engineering that see the many transport routes so dexterously interwoven.
- Hanson's Bridge -
From Salford Junction I join the towpath of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal where the surroundings remain rather industrial heading up towards Bromford and Tyburn. Indeed, the canal seems to pass directly beneath one workshop held up on concrete girders shortly before Erdington Hall Bridge. At Tyburn I take a look at the Tyburn House pub before casting a glance at handsome Hanson's Bridge near Castle Vale.
- Pype Hayes Gardens -
A short stroll along Hanson's Bridge Road brings me to Pype Hayes Park where I can pause for lunch and listen to the joy and laughter of the Easter holiday funfair being held on the field. The park's fishpond provides a tranquil spot to eat a few chips and I also relish taking a look at the ornamental gardens, carefully laid out but not quite displaying the signs of spring yet because of the recent cold snap. The gardens are attached to Pype Hayes Hall although the building itself appears to be up for sale.
- The Greyhound -
From Chester Road I can weave my way towards Wylde Green, calling along Gravelly Lane for a look at the Rose & Crown before Goosemoor Lane offers views of the Cookes furniture store. I breeze past Perry Common terminus and track down the Greyhound, a Mitchells & Butlers pub on Court Lane.
- Wylde Green Station -
Making a beeline through Boldmere, Antrobus Road and Highfield Road bring me neatly to Wylde Green Station where I complete my Cross City contemplations with views of the main bridge on Station Road. There is a little wedge-shaped ticket office down below the Birmingham platform and I capture a couple of passing train shots to round off a fine excursion.
The day was not yet over though, and I change trains at Aston once more in order to join my esteemed colleague Nick for a visit to the Walsall Beer Festival, but that my friends is another story...