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Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

RIVER JOURNEYS

My search for ways to investigate and ultimately enjoy the surrounding area around Tamworth had led me to contemplate a while back, travelling on the areas rivers(a canoe not a yacht!). This has been held back by many things, thinking about it too much, lack of watercraft,lack of experience, the appearance of that series by Griff Rhys Jones and looking like a desperate copycat, the weather, fear, and the lack of a sancho panza to accompany me on the trip. But most of all is the doubt of whether it was legal or not. After looking at the legability issue it turns out that most rivers are non-navigable and thus considered trespassing if you venture out onto the river.The riverbed belongs to the person who owns the adjoining land. The river Tame and Anker fall into this category which is a great shame.All is not lost though as there is a heart lifting organisation campaigning for British rivers to be made navigable- The Rivers Access Campaign

They make some really good points and I´ll only highlight a few below:

i)In England and Wales unlike elsewhere in the world the public cannot assume the automatic right to access the rivers. Only 2% of rivers in England and Wales are accessible.

ii)Canoeists do not harm river fauna and English nature stated that is no significant impact to wildlife from the passage of canoes.

iii)The access situation is not a canoeing v fishing issue. All over the world fishing happily coexists with canoeing. In Scotland where access to rivers has been opened up there has been no harm to angling interests.

Tamworth and the surrounding area are particularly rich in rivers. It’s the very reason why Tamworth is situated where it is at the confluence of the Rivers Anker and Tame, and to illustrate this Tamworth derives its name from one of those rivers. Tamworth and the surrounding area like so much of lowland England is a sort of ´river-world´ it´s presence is everywhere, it shapes and defines its landscapes. Rivers were also very important economically and numerous mills were situated along the rivers, starting with the saxon watermill excavated in the 70´s on the river anker  and ending with Alders Paper mill. In Victorian and Edwardian times the Tame was an area for recreational boating, why did this stop?

The photo below shows boating on the river Tame back in the day, looks pretty appealing, taken from Staffordshire past track

Delving into Staffordshire past track archives here is more evidence of the fine tradition of  boating on Tamworth rivers

river Anker boathouse, Tamworth, 1900-1930

woodcut engraving, Tamworth 1843, notice the mill behind Ladybridge

river Tame near Tamworth, 1788-1855(c)

Canoeing down the river would be a great way to experience the landscape,the socio-economic importance of the river means many sites are along the rivers, imagine leaving alvecote pools, down the quiet unspoilt Anker, below the old railway bridges,sailing past the picture perfect castle and not  so picture perfect towers, onto the ladybank and moathouse and after somehow negotiating the ´waterfall´ onto the meadows and woods in Hopwas, Tamhorn, and Elford. All this with the right training and equipment as rivers like the sea shouldn´t be underestimated. Sounds perfect?  well you can´t do it.


one possible route  through Tamworth that a canoeist could take, journey stopped at dangerous looking  waterfall

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There seems to be only two alternatives for the woodhouse(see previous post)  demolish it, leaving a pile of old bricks in a clearing or letting it rot and continuing to be an atmospheric ruin for exploration forums. In a different world there would be another alternative doing something with it! So below are a few ideas for a future for the Woodhouse. They all share parking problems, a very unique access route, 15 minute walk through dense forest and respect for surroundings and people. I don’t have the resources so I’ll just let the ideas float out to space to be caught by a budding entrepreneur in another place and time.

1) I’ll quickly wade past  the usual stuff, craft centre, centre for marriages, events, hotel (b &b or luxury), private housing.

2)tree house exhibition and shop:  the house surrounded by treehouses of all types in the surrounding land. A sort of treehouse exhibition, play area and sales area for tree houses. It’s a bit of a niche market but what better location than the atmospheric settings in the centre of england. Possible combination with tree house hotel.

taken from environmental Graffitis 5 incredible Treehouses

3) eco- hotel: some sort of luxury camping site. It’s all the range according to the media, its called ‘glamping’, I know. There’s all sorts of luxury camping experiences you could do in this place. Star gazing no light pollution nearby, woodcraft workshops, horse riding, woodland dishes, treasure hunting, tales for the kids, whatever Islington types want is possible here.

glamping it up

4) Related to this, is the restaurant in the midst of forest, imagine the unforgettable access route, atmosphere in woods, large open terrace, badger a la carte,  served by people dressed in woodland animal costumes, ok that’s enough

5) Scary house for weekend adventures,etc. No investment apart from conservation of buildings, just leave it as it is, and hey presto you’ve got one spooky place. potential side earner as  filming location.

6) This one is dedicated to Tarmac: how about a museum on quarries. We are going to have to use the imagination on this one. But could include the geological history of the land, history of quarrying and mining, starting point for  visits to historic quarries in areas(quarry of the cathedral of lichfield,)etc, quarry landscape art, organised quarry activities, abseiling, endurance tests(not sure what health and safety would say about this)

7) museum and workshop on woodlands and woodcraft. centre for the study and appreciation of woodlands, invited speakers Ray Mears, Yanomamo Indians.

8 ) My favourite, How about a space for Afro-funk explosive performances called the Mothership, complete with a light beam pointing skywards, dedicated to the improvement of funk in this little corner of the universe: just remember – you’ve got to wear your sunglasses, that’s the rule round here, so you can feel cool. Naked dancing witches are welcome. Special Considerations will be taken with the  wildlife and they will be duly instructed in the groove. Suffice to say I love this idea and is my secret agenda for wanting to save the woodhouse or should I say the mothership

Parliament relaxing in Hopwas woods

Any other ideas are welcome….

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