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Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood

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Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood
Author: djhampton, Published: 25 Aug 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guidestar1 Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guidestar1 Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guidestar0 Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guidestar0 Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guide
Staffordshire,
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Essington Quarry Pool and Black Cat wood Walking Guide
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This is a relatively gentle and very popular two mile walk through farmland between Wolverhampton and Essington in South Staffordshire. The walk provides views of Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and the Black Country to the south and the Wrekin and the Clee Hills to the south west.

There are no steep parts to the walk, although a fair amount of gentle uphill. Paths are well trodden and it is difficult to get lost. Although the walk is along marked public footpaths there is some livestock in the form of horses and cows so it is advisable to leash dogs. The local farmer through whose land the walk takes you is very friendly as are the local birdwatchers who use the large pool.

Half way through the walk is a conveniently situated bench, but there are no toilets or other facilities in the area. The walk is easily achieved in an hour, but there are plenty of other paths that might take your fancy on the route.

There is a dropped kerb and a pull in place along Blackhalve Lane, between Wednesfield and Essington. (Nearest postcode is in Essington WV11 2BT). As this is a popular area to exercise dogs it can sometimes be difficult to park.

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Walk Sections

Starting your walk

Start point: 52.6234 lat, -2.0687 long
End point: 52.6233 lat, -2.0686 long

The parking place is easy to miss so look for the dropped kerb and pull carefully off the road. The ground can be extremely uneven.

Ealhswith's home?
Ealhswith's home?

Start point: 52.6233 lat, -2.0686 long
End point: 52.6269 lat, -2.0696 long

Take the path towards the small wood to the north of you and walk between the high hedgerows bordering the fields. The path passes a small, wooded, moated area to the left (pictured), that was at sometime a small settlement. Local legend has it that this was the home of Alfred the Great's wife Ealhswith, the daughter of a Mercian nobleman. There is no doubt that Ealhswith was from the Essington area, but whether this was the site of her home is simply conjecture, as there are several of these moated former settlements in the area. Nevertheless, it adds a frisson of excitement to the exploration of this small wood, which can be very muddy indeed.

Once past the small wood, the path continues gently uphill to a larger wood known locally as Black Cat Wood. If walking during the winter months keep an eye out for flocks of Golden Plover that favour the field to the left. If the sun is bright enough, these birds' feathers almost sparkle as they fly. Although flock numbers have fallen over the passed twenty years or so, Golden Plovers can be seen most years.

Black Cat Wood
Black Cat Wood

Start point: 52.6269 lat, -2.0696 long
End point: 52.6283 lat, -2.0711 long

Once into the wood take the track that heads off along the field's edge, with the field on your left. The wood consists of many oaks and birch trees, with several sycamores now starting to encroach. The path skirts the southern and western edges of the wood, a wood which is teeming with bird life such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, treecreepers and several species of tit.

WARNING: Strictly speaking this is not a public footpath; the public footpath takes a different route through the wood, but the path is well trodden and the two neighbouring farmers who own the wood between them have tolerated the use of this track for at least the thirty years that I've been walking it. However, it must be reiterated that there is no right of way along the southern and western sides of the wood and the owners are well within their rights to ask you to use the proper path. If this should happen, return to the point where you entered the wood and take the other pathway, which is again very obvious and well trodden.

Warstones, horses and bulls
Warstones, horses and bulls

Start point: 52.6283 lat, -2.0711 long
End point: 52.6285 lat, -2.0738 long

At the top of the wood you once again join the right of way footpath, which lies in a slight gully running west to east. Walking along this path you will come across a large stone in the path, (pictured), locally known as a 'warstone' it is in fact a glacial boulder left here at the end of the last ice age. The whole of this area of South Staffordshire and Wolverhampton are littered with these stones as this was one of the southernmost tips of the Ice Age glacier that covered northern Europe.

As you walk the path, look out for the first views across Wednesfield and the Black Country. Take note too that this is a paddocked area where there are a lot of horses and cattle, including two bulls are often grazing the fields as well.

Views of the Black Country

Start point: 52.6285 lat, -2.0738 long
End point: 52.6288 lat, -2.0763 long

As you leave the track in the gully you meet two paths, one to the right, down which we will be returning later on the walk, and another that goes through a gap in the hedge. Take this path and admire the views to the south across to Sedgley Beacon and the Black Country. Straight ahead of you, you should be able to see the Wrekin and slightly south of that can be seen Brown Clee.

This particular area is good for seeing Buzzards as there are at least four pairs in the area. Peregrine falcons are a regular sight too, particularly favouring perching high in the pylons about a mile to your south, but regularly hunting around the quarry pool that you will soon arrive at. Large flocks of Redwing, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrushes are common winter sights and there is a regular parcel of Linnets wintering, numbering up to two hundred birds.

Essington Quarry pool
Essington Quarry pool

Start point: 52.6288 lat, -2.0763 long
End point: 52.6264 lat, -2.0779 long

The path will eventually bring you to Essington Quarry pool, a favourite with the local birdwatching fraternity who can be regularly found peering through their binoculars and telescopes. This part of the walk provides the best views, (pictured) of the area to both the south and the east and back to Black Cat Wood, but is very open to the elements, where there can be a biting wind even during the summer months.

Walk along the track, which forms part of the Monarch's Way, one of the UK's longest National Trails, to the corner of the field and take the track to right going westwards.

CAUTION: there are generally cattle in the adjacent field that are very intolerant of dogs. A bull is often also in the field so it is advisable to leash dogs here.

To the bench
To the bench

Start point: 52.6264 lat, -2.0779 long
End point: 52.6265 lat, -2.0799 long

The track along the field will bring you eventually to a bench, where a well deserved break can be taken and the views enjoyed. Additionally, this point gives the best views of the pool and a variety of ducks and grebes can always be seen.

CAUTION: You will notice that the fence round the pool is missing here, but please be warned that the pool area is privately owned by a wildfowler who regularly shoots during the hunting season. In addition, the pool is very deep and consequently very cold and no swimming or fishing are allowed.

Retrace steps
Retrace steps

Start point: 52.6265 lat, -2.0799 long
End point: 52.6289 lat, -2.0763 long

When you have taken your fill of the views, retrace your steps back along the Monarchs Way, but instead of turning right towards Black Cat Wood continue straight ahead and take the small track between the large house on the left and the barn conversions to the right. The path is very narrow, and large dogs are kept on both sides. Towards the far end of it, a large dog is likely to rest his paws on the fence to the right and bark! You have been warned.

Bognop Road

Start point: 52.6303 lat, -2.076 long
End point: 52.6303 lat, -2.0748 long

When you reach the road turn right and walk about fifty metres until you are opposite the a concrete farmyard to your left. Be very careful on this section as the road is fast and drivers come round the corners extremely quickly.

When you have the farmyard to your left, you will have a mettled farm road to your right. There are notices telling you that it is a private road, but there is still a right of way along it, as witnessed by the pathway sign and the small footpath gate to the left of the large new farm gate twenty metres in front of you.

Through the farmyard, orchard and back through Black Cat Wood.

Start point: 52.6303 lat, -2.0748 long
End point: 52.6285 lat, -2.0737 long

Walk along the lane, which bears left and passed the farmyard on your left. Opposite the farmyard is a small orchard where any number of small birds can be seen and if you are lucky, Little Owls.

Keep walking along the road past the barns and the magnificent farmhouse where the road becomes a track and you will find yourself back on the path that you were on earlier.

Turn right and follow the gully path passed the 'warstone' and into the wood, but instead of turning right continue along the north edge of the wood and then turn left along the eastern edge of the wood, which takes you back to the beginning of the walk, passing the moated wood you explored earlier and so on to the start/end of the walk

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author djhampton and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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