Eating, sleeping, walking, studying maps and route planning….I’ve neglected my blog, whilst these other activities fill my days. I’ve also got a backlog of Little Flora videos to send to junior adventurers.
So, in Ironbridge I was joined by a very motivational friend, Katie. We marched together for two days, crossing from Shropshire into Staffordshire and reaching gorgeous Cannock Chase. If you’ve never been and find yourself stuck and bored on a motorway nearby, abandon your plans for the day and go and take a walk there.
Here are three Cannock Chase photos:
Katie and I had various escapades. These included: trespassing on a golf course; doing a dance routine to Tony Christie (complete with walking poles); competing for the attentions of a horse; tripping up over own legs and walking poles (Katie); making a singing Little Flora elephant video; identifying trees; having a feeding frenzy in Penkridge. And so on.
Here’s evidence of the golf course crimes and Shaun the horse.
I got very excited as we walked between Ironbridge and Penkridge (near Wolverhampton), because I crossed the east west watershed for the first time. An ignominious field was the spot where on the west side all rivers and streams flow into the River Severn and then out into the Bristol Channel and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. On the east side, everything is flowing into the Trent, which eventually ends up in the Humber Estuary and then the North Sea. Anyhow, it felt like a little landmark to me, even if the trig point marked in the map was missing in the actual field. A photo was taken to mark the special occasion, and we walked on. (The hills in the bs kg round of the pic are Wenlock Edge. and Clee Hill in Shropshire).
Water has featured a lot in the past few days. Various canals have cropped up, and have been nice to follow for a few miles here and there. The Shropshire Union Canal featured first of all, and then the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. Although I have to say that the boaters themselves haven’t been the cheeriest of people. Perhaps mere walkers are not meant to sing out hellos to narrow boat people.
I also have been following the river Dove on and off, with more to come. It’s a lovely burbling clear river.
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect of Staffordshire. According to the guidebook that I’m following for parts of my walk, this county was meant to provide the low point, scenically. For me this usually means that low expectations end up being exceeded, and this proved to be the case. Viewed from a car, whizzing through the county, it may not seem so special. But slowly following footpaths is a whole different experience. For example, towns are often entered by walking across a field of sheep and into a churchyard. It’s much quieter and there are lots of little surprises. Gorgeous houses, pretty hamlets, peaceful woods. And of course the chance encounters with friendly people. In Abbots Bromley I got chatting with a really lovely couple, Jenny and Glynne. As I left they gave me a contribution to my fundraising, which was really kind. Those chance meetings make my day.
Shortly after Rocester – home to JCB and with very much the feel of a company town – the landscape started to change. Hills rose up, cut through with sharp river valleys. Limestone country. And into Derbyshire and the Peak District. I’ve been looking forward to this as to my shame I don’t know it at all.
I’m ever so grateful to Katie’s parents who have been really kind and gave a hungry hiker a bed for the night. Once I got to their house, in the hills on the southern edge of the Peak District, there was the most wonderful view south. The lower Staffordshire landscape stretched out and out, with Cannock Chase a ridge on the skyline. To the west, in the far distance I could see one or two of those distinctive bumps – the Shropshire hills. Goodness me, I walked from there.