Sunday, February 5

A Trysull Trek

Friday 3rd February 2017 and I had a mission to undertake in South Staffordshire, seeking out some Holden's hospitality and enjoying an extended walk in the environs of Trysull...

- Wombourne Fire Station -
Beginning at Wolverhampton Bus Station, I catch the 255 bus down to Wombourne and alight on Giggetty Lane  where the ambulance station used to be. New houses occupy that particular site but Cherry Trees Primary School and Wombourne Community Fire Station still ensure there are local facilities with which to set the photographic ball rolling.

- Bratch Top Lock -
Giggetty Bridge provides my access point for the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal today as I plot my course towards Trysull. Houndel Bridge (with the neighbouring Round Oak pub) and Bumblehole Lock keep me occupied before I reach Bratch Locks, a picture postcard location that has been a source of daytripper curiosity for over 200 years. There are three locks here in close succession, all watched over by a distinctive tollhouse and a lock keeper's cottage. Instructional signs are on hand to guide boaters through the tricky flight.

- Awbridge Bridge -
With Wombourne gradually receding on the horizon behind me, the towpath offers field views looking out towards Orton. The next landmark on from The Bratch is Awbridge, marked by an old stone bridge with a perforated parapet and another lock. I leave the canal here to join Union Lane, following in the tractor tracks of the local farm to reach Trysull village.

- Trysull Pound -
An historic settlement said to have been mentioned in the Domesday Book, Trysull is a place I have explored before, usually with a visit to the Bell Inn being high on my agenda. The pub will certainly be featuring today but not until I've had a little stroll around the village. All Saints Church is very much worthy of a closer look (worship has apparently taken place on this site for over a thousand years) while School Road leads - naturally enough - to All Saints School which overlooks the village green. A new discovery for me is Trysull Pound, a post-medieval brick enclosure used for rounding up stray animals which was restored for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

- The Bell -
There's something pleasingly traditional about places where the church and the pub are right next door to each other, and in Trysull's case All Saints has the Bell for an immediate neighbour. I must admit I really like the Bell, and not just because it serves as a Staffordshire outpost for one of my favourite Black Country breweries -  Holden's. The building has a bit of character to it and both the beer and the food seem reasonably priced, hence the small army of pensioners flocking their way here to partake of the lunchtime menu. A pack of scratchings will do me nicely as an accompaniment to Golden Glow and Batham's Best Bitter, quality ales in a nice setting.

- The Hollybush -
I was hoping to pair the Bell with the other pub in the village centre but alas the Plough on School Road is closed for refurbishment work. All is not lost though as a willing wander up Trysull Holloway brings me to Ebstree Road for the Hollybush, seemingly quite remote with only fields and farms for company. The pub is quiet, the level of trade presumably not helped by the canal closure at Dimmingsdale following a recent accident that damaged the canal bridge. Having established that the pub is open, I call in for some Enville Ale and a relaxing read of the daily newspapers.

- Avian Art at Market Lane Bridge -
With the weather set to turn wetter and the breeze already picking up, I make strides for Lower Penn where I join the South Staffordshire Railway Walk at Greyhound Lane. Orientation boards mark the former location of Penn Halt, a discontinued stop on the short-lived Wombourne branch line, then at Market Lane Bridge I encounter an unexpected splash of colour thanks to street art depictions of birds, dogs and pouting ladies. The sights at Castlecroft are more mundane by comparison but I can at least reacquaint myself photographically with the Firs pub before catching my bus connection home, and that's that!

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