9th March 2020
We’ve been at Pooley Country Park for a couple of days, and while here we take a walk up to the Gold Leaf Monument, installed in 2011 on the top of a mound of colliery waste to become the centre piece of the country park. The tower is a stack of aluminium strips formed in the shape of a birch leaf and the outer surface is covered in gold leaf. The gold finish is a reference to the wealth that was created by and for those who exploited the coal. It was commissioned as part of the regeneration of Pooley and was chosen following consultations with local people to help revitalise and create a strong identity for the area's regeneration. There are extensive views to be had for those who climb to the top the hill.
We pass under the M42 motorway and head south through Polesworth, which underwent rapid growth in the coal mining and clay industries in the 1770’s when the Coventry Canal was built.
Coal has been mined at Polesworth since the Norman Times and by the 17th century was well established. In 1951, several of the local mines had been combined but by 1965 they too were closed down.
The canal then passes some arable land before arriving at the bottom of 11 locks which take the canal through Atherstone. We moor up however between locks 6 and 5 to visit the town to collect some provisions, which is only a 10min walk into town. The town runs along side the canal by the bottom half of the locks, with some housing and gardens backing onto the canal, but despite this most of the Atherstone flight feels detached from an urban setting. However, the busy A5 runs between locks 6 and 5 and with the railway line also close by this was a very noisy mooring and we only stayed one night before moving on.
This is a trip of 5 miles with 6 locks and took us approximately 3.5 hours.