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Black Country Volcano

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Black Country Volcano
Author: sammy_benbow, Published: 22 May 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Black Country Volcano Walking Guidestar1 Black Country Volcano Walking Guidestar1 Black Country Volcano Walking Guidestar1 Black Country Volcano Walking Guidestar1 Black Country Volcano Walking Guide
West Midlands, Dudley
Walk Type: Woodland
Black Country Volcano
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Black Country Volcano Walking Guide boot Black Country Volcano Walking Guide boot Black Country Volcano Walking Guide
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This is a 2 mile circular walk that follows a trail around Barrow Hill, near to Pensnett in the West Midlands. The site in question is the location of an ancient volcano (now extinct, thankfully), and there are several nature boards on the site that detail the area's history. The walk circumambulates the site and leads you to the cross atop the hill, which affords views of the surrounding area. The name 'Barrow' Hill comes from the two Bronze Age burial mounds found on the hill, which have since been lost to mining activities.

The route encompasses woodland and footpaths, and also leads the walker past St Mark's Church. Parts of the route, between waypoints 1 and 2 are quite muddy, and there is some climbing of steps up to the cross. Expect to take 1.5 - 2 hours to complete.

Barrow Hill is located just off the A461. It is quite close to Russells Hall Hospital. The nearest motorway junction is J2 of the M5. The nearest bus route is the 222, see nxbus.co.uk for details. The car park is accessed from Merryfield Road. Approximate postcode: DY1 2PD

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Walk Sections

Start to Pensnett Coppice
Start to Pensnett Coppice

Start point: 52.511 lat, -2.1194 long
End point: 52.5038 lat, -2.1309 long

There is a nature board by the entrance to the car park.

Depart the car park via the kissing gate, and follow the short path through the grass, to reach a T-junction with the path that runs perpendicular. Turn left onto this. After 350m, the views to your left will open up and you may be able to see the cross on the top of the hill. Continue straight on along this path, underneath the legs of the pylon that straddles the path. After 750m, you will join the Staffs Railway Walk. Turn left onto this.

On your left you will see a hay meadow, through the trees, while on your right you will see Tansey Green clay pit. The clay pit is privately owned and now disused. The site has perfectly preserved three dimensional fossils of trees that were preserved by a layer of ash from the volcano.

Continue along for 350m.

Pensnett Coppice to Nature Board
Pensnett Coppice to Nature Board

Start point: 52.5038 lat, -2.1309 long
End point: 52.5016 lat, -2.1242 long

Turn left off the railway walk, into the trees. Go through the field and enter the trees. This section of the walk can be very muddy with low growing trees. The path is not surfaced, but is generally quite clearly marked. Follow it uphill for about 300m, until it reaches the gravel path. Turn right here and head downhill.

The path now continues down through the woods and eventually follows the boundary line of St Mark's Church. The path splits by the entrance to the churchyard, whereupon you need to follow the path to the right of the wall, through the trees. This section can also be quite muddy.

After the path follows a circular route, you will eventually go up a slight rise to a tarmac road, Vicarage Lane. Turn right here and walk 80m towards the main road to see a double-sided nature board detailing more information about the history of the area.

Nature Board to Cross
Nature Board to Cross

Start point: 52.5016 lat, -2.1242 long
End point: 52.5044 lat, -2.1245 long

After viewing the nature board, retrace your steps and then follow the road up and to the right of the church. At the top of the road, veer right and take the gate towards the field.

As you pass through the gate, head onto the grass, then head towards the steps that go uphill towards the cross. (The path from the gate will continue to the right.) Follow the steps up to the cross.

The cross at the summit was commissioned by St Mark's Church. The hill is a basalt intrusion, formed 300 million years ago. It has been significantly reduced in height due to mining and erosion.

Cross to End
Cross to End

Start point: 52.5044 lat, -2.1245 long
End point: 52.5109 lat, -2.1193 long

On leaving the cross, head down and take the left-hand steps down the hill. Follow this path down and to the left. After 900m, the views will open out across grazing land and ponds. In the distance, a disused colliery mill tower can be seen. The ponds are valuable to a wide range of wildlife, including great crested newts.

Continue to follow the gravel path until it reaches the path which you set out on. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the car park.

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