Inner Hays


Hopwas Hays Wood is a great example of British deciduous woodland, and very old indeed.

Here’s another ride cam for all those who ask for them – including Trev in Oz, Rob Flodders and BillyTheBez. This one is edited, realtime bits of a mostly off road journey from Jerry’s Lane, near Weeford, up the bridleway that is Knox’s Grave Lane to Packington, then into the wonderful Hopwas Hayes Wood, muse of the great and lost Tamworth Time Hikes. Here, I rode the bride way along the west of the wood, then dropped down the great downhill, over the canal into the Tame Valley near Tamhorn.

Those wondering about the name ‘Knox’s Grave Lane’ can find out more here, as compiled by the inimitable Gareth Thomas.

It had just rained heavily, and the sun was out. I got soaked and repeatedly stung by the nettles on the bridleway. But it was great fun. There are pictures of the ride over on my 365daysofbiking Tumblr.

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Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 pathfinder mapping with my route in the video overlaid in purple. Click for a larger version.

Someone (can’t remember who, sorry) suggested I explore Hopwas Hays Wood a few weeks ago. I did as a kid, and never bothered again, so I thought I would give it a go again – it’s brilliant. Loving it. Hilly, dense, deciduous woodland. Isolated, without a soul around.  Sandy, loose gravel tracks. Loads of wildlife and very atmospheric.

The wood used to form part of Whittington Barracks practice ranges, and there was a grenade range in the wood itself, as well as several for small firearms. These are now unused and the soldiers gone, as the old barracks is converted to a military hospital. The wood is now safe, but it’s also private, so sticking to the bridleways as I have here (cough) is advisable.

Hopwas Hays Wood has a lot of folklore which is of a supernatural nature. Then there’s just the batshit insane modern stuff. This is a wonderful place.

Like the Rainbow Hill video last week, the downhill is a bit reserved as I don’t know the track well enough to fully let go of the brakes. If you try it yourself, beware, as there are some sharp steps amounting to 8 inches or so in places, and low cut stumps as well as loose trail marbles and roots. But it really is a woo-hoo ride. Can’t wait to do it again.

Last week, like a muppet, I did it uphill.

For the best video quality, click on the little gear symbol in the bottom right of the video box and click the highest number that will play on your computer. Resolutions up to 1080HD high definition are available.

This video is shot realtime at normal speed.

The music is a Hauntology classic, ‘Mind How You Go Now’, a beautiful bit of 70s library-music style electronica by the remarkable John Brooks, recorded here under the name ‘The Advisory Circle’. I’ve posted before about this fascinating genre of music. It really is a lovely thing.


Yesterday’s ride was wonderful, with very variable and dramatic weather. John Wyatt’s Weeford looked wonderful under a rainbow.

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3 Responses to Inner Hays

  1. David Oakley says:

    The South Staffordshire Waterworks had a reservoir on the edge of Hopwas Hays Wood, just off the A51. In 1969, the area was plagued by rabbits. As this was a clean water enclosed reservoir, Health regulations were such that the area needed to be cleared of these animals. How to do it?
    It was decided to build a rabbit-proof fence around the entire perimeter of the reservoir. The rabbit, being a burrowing animal, it was decided that the fence would have to go down at least two feet into the ground. The Building Section of the Company was given the job and being of an urgent nature, all hands were mustered. If you could hold a spade, you were in.
    To see this line of men, all digging, moving steadily around the perimeter, in this woodland setting, reminded one vividly of Paul Newman in the film, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ then doing the rounds of the local cinemas, and there was more than one ironical shout of “Wipin’ off, boss”, when the Building Supervsor. appeared. Needless to say, the job was soon completed. Wonder if the fence is still there?

  2. Trevor Brown says:

    Thank you Bob, What a wonderful place to ride,
    Trev.(Hovis )

  3. Pingback: Just one day like this… | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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