20080920 Sort walk to the Ricoh
When : 20 September 2008
Who : Me and Craig
Where : Coventry, England
Approx distance : A bit of a stroll
Significant height : None
Maps used : None
Parking : Side road off the Foleshill Road
Public Transport : I believe bus routes do exist but we didn’t use them.
I’m maybe pushing the bounds of credibility here, but it’s a bit of an uphill struggle being a Coventry City supporter sometimes ( I think it’s probably a bit of a struggle being in the team itself or being the manager or anything to do with the club as well a lot of the time). I’m using the uphill bit as an excuse for this rather flippant entry into my country walking blog ! … it also gives a chance to mention Coventry’s Sowe Valley Footpath which might interest someone, although personally I can think of more scenic places to walk.
Still, it’s early in the season and my Son and I were going up to the Ricoh Arena for the first time of the 2008/09 season and hopes were high for a Sky Blues home win against money bags QPR (and ex-city manager Iain Dowie).
We parked-up just off the Foleshill road in a side street (with no parking restrictions) and early enough to avoid having to pay in one of the match-day parking areas. After a short stretch of road walking, we turned into what is labelled “Longford Community Nature Park” … in reality it’s just a sliver of ground that’s been allowed to pretty much grow wild, sandwiched between the Coventry Canal and some houses & industrial units. Still, there are some decent size trees, some reed beds, other undergrowth such as brambles, rose briars and lots of nettles, oh and there’s a little stream.
In fact this little non-descript stream, almost not worth a mention, is the early life of Coventry’s biggest river, The River Sowe, which even at it’s largest (approx 8-10 miles downstream?) is little more than a small tributary of the River Avon. Unfortunately, Coventry isn’t well blessed when it comes to rivers!
An urban greenway walk has been developed called “The Sowe Valley Footpath” and the following are extracts from a web-site that I’ve found that explains and promotes the route :-
“The Sowe Valley is a continuous riverside park stretching for 8½ miles from Hawkesbury Junction Conservation Area (Longford) in the north to Stonebridge Meadows Local Nature Reserve in the south. It links the countryside with the city and passes near to Aldermans Green, Wood End, Bell Green, Henley Green, Walsgrave, Clifford Park, Wyken, Ernesford Grange, Binley, Stoke, Willenhall and Whitley. Its character is constantly changing, some parts are green and rural, others are more built up, but all provide a place of escape from the noise and pressures of the City” ….. “The Sowe Valley is an area of Green Belt, important for its landscape, for quiet recreation, its history, educational and nature conservation value. It is there for you to use, enjoy and treat with respect” ….. “There is plenty to discover in the Sowe Valley. A riverside footpath runs along the length of the Valley to help you enjoy it and there are information panels at key sites” ….. “The Sowe Valley has a long history of farming, with crops such as wheat, rye, peas and oats being grown. As industries such as coal mining increased, the working farm became a thing of the past. Today Henley Mill Farm is one of only two traditional working farms now remaining in Sowe Valley” ….. “At Hawkesbury Junction the footpath links into The Centenary Way, the Oxford Canal Walk and the Coventry Canal Art Trail, which gives an opportunity for future interesting walks.”
Anyway, that’s, by the by really, as our very little walk went through the nature reserve, crossing “The Sowe” by means of a metal footbridge; then up a rise to cross over the Coventry Canal, on a brick built bridge, from where you can see newly built flats over-looking the cut in a modern take on urban living.
Soon afterwards we crossed over the Coventry to Nuneaton railway line by means of a modern and pretty-ugly metal brige construction. [ Don’t you love the English language, how can you have a pretty-ugly anything, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?, but I guess you all know what I mean ].
Once over the railway we emerged into the car parking areas of the home of Coventry City Football Club … The Ricoh Arena … a very new and modern stadium that is very different from the old Highfield road site.
There were hardly any other fans making their way as we went, but I put that down to being a tad early, but it was very quiet outside the stadium as well and with about 1/2 hour to kick off that didn’t bode well for a good crowd …. it turned out the official gate was published at 16,718 … making the ground only about 1/2 full.
- perhaps the credit crunch is biting deep into peoples pockets ?
- perhaps the long suffering fans of CCFC need some good, entertaining and winning football to watch before the crowds start flooding back again ?
- perhaps the stupid cashless payment system inside the stadium, for a drink or a pie or whatever, is putting people off (just another way to rip us off, I and others think?) …. it certainly stopped me buying a pint for me and a cola for my son.
- perhaps after such a poor summer, people were just out and about doing other things in the sunshine – we havn’t seen too much of it this year really have we?
One point that’s just got to be made :- The railway passes only a matter of yards from the stadium, but there still isn’t a station provided for match-day supporters (or concert goers when the stadium is given over to the likes of Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, etc.) … in this day-and-age of so called integrated public transport and green politics you’d have thought this would be an obvious solution to move lots of people in and out quickly and efficiently, but it seems not in Coventry …
perhaps if we were in an East-end suburb of London we’d have overground and underground train links; a mono-rail; trams; multiple bus routes; a handful of bicycle lanes and maybe even a ski-lift by now ….
but no, Coventry isn’t particularly fashionable and it isn’t hosting the 2012 games, so I can’t see any funds coming our way … Network rail and central government need to get their act into gear and support cities not in the south-east corner of England !!! If you agree don’t lobby me, lobby your MP !!! Sorry, soap box moment and moan over …
Anyway, the route back after the match was much slower, as there was a real “log-jam” as hundreds of people tried to squeeze across both the railway and canal bridges … the main reason for the slow progress, was at the canal bridge, where some anti-bike barriers were only allowing one, maybe two people through at a time. Still it was all good humoured (helped by the decent weather) and fans all around chatted about the game whilst patiently waiting for the queue to shuffle forwards.
Once back into the “nature reserve” we branched off from the main flow of the crowd and jogged back to the Foleshill Road and thence on to the car along the road. I know it’s only a footy match, but your team winning does bring a bounce to your step.
Oh, if you’re interested the match ended Cov’ City-1, Queens Park Rangers-0 … Hurray !
End of an odd post, but hey, it was a walk … of sorts … well almost !
Next walk … maybe the Malvern Hills next week-end … A proper place to walk.