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Walsall Arboretum (Walsall, West Midlands)

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Walsall Arboretum, Walsall, West Midlands.

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      03.08.2012 08:17
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      Back in May 2012 I was back in Birmingham visiting family when we took a trip with my dog Izzie to Walsall Arboretum. My family live in Sutton Coldfield and it took us around 20 minutes by car to get there.


      Location
      We arrived at Walsall Arboretum by car and we parked on nearby Lichfield Street. Car parking for Walsall Arboretum is a bit of a pain because as far as we are aware there is no car park for the park so on street parking is the only option. There is a golf course located at one end of Walsall Arboretum and this does have a small car park which I have used in previous years but I'm never too sure if I really am supposed to or not. If you do choose to use this car park then you should take note of the opening hours as they lock it at around 8pm in the summer but much earlier in the winter.

      There are also a number of Travel West Midlands buses which run near Walsall Arboretum or to Walsall town centre. You can also get a Centro train to Walsall town centre. From the town centre you can walk to the Arboretum within around 10 minutes.


      The Arboretum
      Walsall Arboretum can be broken down into quite a few areas of which I will go into detail of in a moment but the main Arboretum garden area of this park is what is known as the bottom area of Walsall Arboretum, the bottom being because the whole of Walsall Arboretum stretches the length of a road which goes downhill towards the town centre. This bottom area is by far the most picturesque part of the park. It features nice paths and many different kinds of plant life, there is a small stream which runs through most of the park area and down to the bottom into a large pond. This pond is home to many ducks and a few swans, as far as I am aware there are also fish in this pond although there are many signs stating No Fishing. The whole pond is protected by a waist high metal fence making it a little harder for kids to fall in, but nonetheless you should still keep an eye on them as the pond does look very inviting and not that deep, although in reality it probably is.

      In this area of Walsall Arboretum it is required to keep your dogs on a lead which I always do anyway here as Izzie has a love of the water and would be the first in the pond to play with the ducks! There are many bins around the arboretum, both regular and dog poop ones so there are no excuses! Every time I have visited the park I have noticed the bins are usually empty and the park in general is very clean.

      My particular favourite thing about this area of Walsall Arboretum is the little stone walls which form the edges of bridges across the little river and being able to see the little river running alongside the paths. On a nice sunny day this looks lovely and clear, however on a rainy day it isn't the best of views and often looks muddy and murky, either way though it would appeal to Izzie so that lead stays firmly in place!

      The area at the top of Walsall Arboretum is more open and has large spaces to run around in. This area is popular with dog owners as they can let them off here to have a run around, but do keep a watchful eye on your dog as there are usually a lot of kids around as the play area isn't too far away. I have let Izzie off here quite a lot and she loves nothing more to run around in the long grass if it hasn't been cut or the grass cuttings if it has! Obviously we love this mess once it gets into the car!


      Treasure Island
      Treasure Island is one of the busiest parts of Walsall Arboretum and is basically a giant play area! When my little brother was younger he use to love playing in here. At age 9 he is now more interested in the skate park area. Treasure Island consists of a huge climbing frame made mainly of rope and metal poles, a good sized zip wire, which I have to admit to being my personal favourite, various swings and slides, many log balance beams both stationary and moving ones. There is a mini play area for the younger children and numerous benches around Treasure Island to simply sit and watch your kids playing.

      Dogs are not allowed into Treasure Island at all, there is a 'Dog Parking' area next to Treasure Island where you can leave your dog tied up if you wish, however I have never used this and never will. I wouldn't dream of leaving my little Izzie tied up in a park!

      Our (my brother's and mine) experience of Treasure Island is a great one. Being a big kid myself when it comes to play areas I have often been unable to resist the lure of climbing to the top of the climbing frame in a race against my brother or swinging back and forth along the zip wire, which can get up to quite a good speed if you can put enough power into launching yourself off the platform. I have fallen off the moving log beams many times while my brother has managed to delicately navigate his way from one to another with no trouble at all.

      All of the play equipment in Treasure Island always seems to be well maintained and as safe as a play area can be really. I've never seen any broken equipment here and the area itself is kept clean and litter free.


      Skate Park and Football
      As I mentioned above, my brother James is 9 years old and he seems to have outgrown Treasure Island these days and prefers to play on the skate park or in the football area. The skate park is of a medium size and looking at it I personally didn't see anything too exciting about it, standing on the sidelines watching my brother was OK for a while but obviously that inner child wanted to play so I had to rob him of his scooter and have a go myself.

      I only had one run across the skate park and that was enough for me! I started at the top of a rather large slope and I admit, I was a little scared! But surrounded by kids and teenagers I felt like I couldn't back out, plus my mum was standing on the side lines shouting at me not to be a chicken! That was enough for me and I launched myself down the slope, I was honestly amazed at how fast I went and I just hoped that the kids would see me coming and move fast enough! I went down the slope and along a very short flat before flying up and over a small ramp, I'm sure I left the ground a little bit, but it was all too fast to be sure! When I go to the other side my legs were like jelly and I happily gave James his scooter back. My summary of the skate park... Fast and exciting!

      The football area is located across the path from the skate area and consists of two small pitches. The first being on the grass with a goal at each end and the second being one of those football come basketball pitches with a concrete floor and metal fence all the way around. We decided to play in this area as there wasn't anyone playing here. My brother, my mums partner and I entered the pitch and had about 5 minutes of play before I was out of breath and lying on the floor! Once I'd recovered I swapped with my mum's partner and went in goal, it was here I learnt my most valuable lesson, don't play football in one of these areas while wearing glasses! My brother kicked the ball and it ricocheted off the metal bar in the most unpredictable direction and ended up hitting me in the face. Lesson learnt and Lou is off the pitch! Thankfully some other kids came to play and my brother joined in with them while we sat watching with Izzie.


      The Golf Course
      The golf course at Walsall Arboretum is located at the top end and from what I can see it is not very popular. In years gone by I have often walked here with my ex who lived near the Arboretum and we spent hours simply walking the fairways and enjoying the tranquillity. For those of you who are interested in golf the course did seem to be looked after and the greens clear of debris or overgrowth. The teeing off areas were always clear and a lot of them have tees built into the ground for you to use. I have never seen anywhere to pay for a game of golf or hire clubs from so I presume it is free and you just turn up with your own, but please double check this first as it may have changed in recent years.


      Walsall Illuminations
      Walsall Arboretum has been known for many years for its Illuminations display which is usually shown around October time. The illuminations have a small fee to enter and a shuttle bus which takes you from the golf areas car park at the top down to the illuminations entrance at the bottom. The display consists of loads of light shows around the entire park as well as laser displays with the fountain over the pond. During the illuminations Walsall Arboretum looks completely different. It is closed during the day and opens at around 6pm. They have many food vans as well as a few rides for the kids and in general it is a really nice evening out. Unfortunately, for reasons I am unsure of the illuminations haven't been put on for the past two possibly three years now which is a shame as personally I really enjoyed them.


      Tennis Courts
      Walsall Arboretum has a number of tennis courts which are free to use, although they aren't exactly the best looked after courts in the world and have no nets in them. When Izzie was a puppy I used to take advantage of the fact that they had large fences with gates that close securely and I used this area to help with her off the lead training and it worked well for me. I have often seen dog owners in these courts but regardless of this they always seem clear of dog poop and litter.


      Current Refurbishment
      At the time of our visit there was a refurbishment taking place near Treasure Island. At the time this looked like a pretty ugly building site, however I have been told by my mum that it will soon be a nice little cafe with a seating area outside so I am looking forward to going to see this on one of my future visits home. The area being refurbished was fenced off and looked pretty secure so kids would have a hard time getting through those fences.


      Having My Sins Blessed!
      Although this was a long time ago I feel it is worth mentioning, especially for those of you who may let your older kids stay out later at this park. Back in 2006 I was walking with my now ex-partner through this park at around 8pm on a summers evening, at this time it was still reasonably light and there were quite a few people around. We were walking near the large open area when a man approached us and started talking to us, being around 24 at the time we knew better than to talk to this guy and tried to casually walk away without making it too obvious. He then must have guessed we felt uncomfortable and said that all he wanted to do was bless us with a quick prayer. Seeing so many people around us we agreed simply to get rid of him and it seemed slightly safer than escalating the situation by running and risking aggravating him. Plus he looked quite athletic and like we wouldn't stand a chance to outrun him. He was true to his word and stood saying a prayer to bless our sins and help guide us in the right direction in life. We quickly thanked him and walked as fast as possible back to our car. For us we felt like we had handled the situation well considering the circumstances but nevertheless we were terrified at the time and I would hate to think of how the situation could have ended had we been alone. So, yep, there is my warning, be very careful if you are here in the evening, or indeed anytime as you can never be too aware of your surroundings.


      Entrance & Opening Times
      Entrance to the park is free and to my knowledge it is open daily. They do lock the gates to the park when it gets dark but these times vary so it is best to check the sign on the gate which you enter through.


      Should You Visit?
      I would recommend a visit to Walsall Arboretum. It is very green and a lovely place to take a walk around on a sunny afternoon. Treasure Island is great for the kids and the big kids although if you have your dog with you then you cannot enter the play area. The top end of Walsall Arboretum offers large open areas which are great for running around and often have events held here. So all in all a nice green area which offers something for everyone.

      Thanks for reading :)

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