The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Triathlons were held In Sutton Park and Boldmere, local to my home. It was a rare opportunity to try my hand at sports photography, and cycling in particular. There were four events, on the Friday Mens & Women’s and on the Sunday Para & Relay.
I plan to move house in the near future and will be leaving Sutton Coldfield, so before leaving the area I wanted to walk the circumference of our local park.
Sutton Park is a 2,400 acre National Nature Reserve. It’s one of the largest urban parks in Europe and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The park has open heathland, woodlands, seven lakes, wetlands, and marshes - each with its own rich variety of plants and wildlife, some rarely seen in the region. Cattle and wild ponies graze on the land. This thirteen Kilometre walk will take in many of these habitats.
I entered the park at Boldmere gate, turned left past the steakhouse and crossed the field, skirting the back of the municipal golf course and approaching Longmoor Pool.
Black as coal!
Like six of the seven pools in the park Longmoor pool is man-made. Local streams were dammed to make pools for watermills from as early as the fifteenth century. At Longmoor Pool there was Longmoor Mill which was a Button Mill. Button making was a flourishing trade centuries ago in Sutton.Blackroot Pool was Blackroot Leather Mill making all kinds of leather goods from belts to saddles. The Spade Mill which still existed 100 years ago at Powell’s Pool made spades and later on rolled steel for pen nibs. Other mills in the Park were: Blade Mill, Stonehouse Mill which was used for Steel rolling and there is evidence that at least another three were known to exist.
At Longmoor Pool I spotted a moorhen’s nest with a fledgling.
I continued on to Banners gate, then turned left, parallel to the Chester Road, and to near the junction with Thornhill Road.
There’s a path from this point which goes all the way past the Jamboree Stone to Blackroot Pool with the curious name of Donegal's Ride.
But, this was not for me on this day. I followed the path between the old Roman Road and Streetly Lane, and then past the Sutton Coldfield Golf Club.
Sutton Coldfield Golf Club
After passing Streetly gate I had to cross the (goods only) railway line that runs between Walsall and Water Orton.
Tracks through the park
Pony Corral Passing by the pony corral, having not yet seen any ponies, I followed the route of Streetly Lane as it curved to the right and climbed up the hill towards Four Oaks gate.
Four Oaks gate
Joining the park road I walked down the hill past Gum Slade woods. It was here, just before leaving the area where the wild ponies are, that I saw a small group of them.
Before following the road round to Hartopp gate I stopped off for delicious lunch at The Blackroot Bistro. I then rejoined the road and followed it round to Town gate, past the Visitor Centre to the ford by Wyndley gate, passing some of the park’s cattle.
Cattle near Wyndley gate
At this point, the area surrounding Wyndley Pool is closed to the public so I cut across the open ground, and through the woods, to the sports field by the Sea Scouts hut and back out through Boldmere gate.