Historians look for clues in the landscape to find out
about an area's history. Look at the shape of the road - there's a dip
in it. It's hiding a river, which is culverted under the road.
Enter the footpath on the right-hand side of the road,
opposite the turning into Woodland Avenue.
Optional: take the steep steps down to a dug out trench
to look for lime pyes.
|Lime pye - no ice cream
Nothing to do with tasty puddings, lime pyes were an
old method of making quicklime. You'll spot them in cutting in the rock
- the limestone here is a yellow colour - lime pyes are more orange, pink
or red (see photo, right). To make them, you dig a hole in the ground,
add charcoal to the limestone, light it and leave for week. Hey presto,
turns into quicklime. When lime kilns were invented, this became the preferred
way of making quicklime (more about that on page 10).
is a lime pye? Listen to John Hemingway »
(If that's left you feeling peckish, visit BBC Food to
find out how to make Key
Go back to the path, turn right and continue.
|Entrance to Castle Woods
from Gervaoise Drive
As you enter the wooded area, look out for Japanese knotweed
on the right, a tall plant with thick bright green stems. This plant is
a major pain - it grows very tall extremely quickly and kills off other
plants because it blocks their light. If you cut it down, it just grows
straight back. If you spray it with chemicals, it needs to be resprayed
regularly for years until it stops growing. Even if you cover the ground
with matting, it just grows through it. It's so strong, it can even grow
up through paving slabs and concrete!
On the left of the path, you'll see butterbur. This plant
is a herb with big flat umbrella-like leaves and thick green stems - it
looks like rhubarb (it's sometimes called 'bog rhubarb'). Butterbur grows
in wet conditions so it shows this area is boggy, perhaps the site of
an old stream or pond. In the past, people used to wrap butter in the
big leaves, hence the name 'butterbur' and it's been used as a medicine
since the Middle Ages, to cure headaches and fever.
out more about Japanese knotweed and butterbur. Listen to Ali Glaisher
Continue on the path through woods. Mind your head
on the low branches and take care: this path can get muddy.
On your right is a disused quarry. The trees in it started
to grow when it stopped being used. Lady Dudley planted trees to hide
the "ugly" mines and quarries.
out more about who planted the trees. Listen to John Hemingway »
|Path out of Castle Woods
On the left of the path is a collapsed mine. The steep
edges of the hollow indicated that the ground has fallen in on itself.
The whole of Dudley sits on top of mining 'galleries'
which go deep underground. When the mines stopped being used, miners took
some of the pillars. That, plus natural processes led to the mines collapsing.
The biggest craters are called crown holes.
have bits of Dudley collapsed? Listen to John Hemingway »
did the mine closures affect Dudley people? Listen to John Hemingway »
are the old mines dangerous? Listen to John Hemingway »
In one of the big craters on the right of the path, you
can see a modern problem: fly tipping. If people can be bothered to bring
rubbish here to dump it, why not drive to the local tip?!
out about woodland trees. Listen to Ali Glaisher »
out about woodland flowers. Listen to Ali Glaisher »
out about woodland birds. Listen to Ali Glaisher »
Come out of the wood and turn right.
map of this stage
If you need to avoid the woodland, make your way back along Priory Road.
Turn left onto the Birmingham New Road and then turn right into the canal
basin. You rejoin the walk at page
for this stage avoiding woodland