The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Cannock Chase and Shugborough Hall

What a top day out! Not outdoorsy in my usual sense, but I shall talk about it anyway.

The day started with a short jaunt on Cannock Chase. Ma-in-Law is staying with us this weekend and having read many an account of our walks on the Chase we thought that we’d show her one of the most popular areas – Stepping Stones (a rather more conventional choice than taking her to see where I slept out last Saturday night!).

She’s pretty fit for an eighty-something, but with failing eyesight we stuck to the main thoroughfares and kept the excursion to a short couple of miles, but it still gave a good taste of the varied woodland and of the sort of terrain available.

With that jaunt complete, and with our new National Trust membership cards in our pockets, we then thought that we would just pop up the road to Shugborough Hall.

My aim in joining the National Trust was to park in their car parks. Husband convinced me to opt for the joint membership so that we could go and look around some of their properties too. I was dubious as to whether we would make any such visits. However, after spending an afternoon inspecting the house in some detail and marvelling over the gardens, I’m already plotting which other properties to fit in to the next twelve months (and ruing the fact with my suddenly found enthusiasm for visiting stately homes, most are closing at the end of the month for the winter).

On this trip we only scratched the surface by visiting the main house and walking through a small section of the grounds – but that still kept us all happily amused for the best part of three hours.

As an added bonus, as we walked back to the exit, the ‘Tower of the Winds’ was open, allowing us to see inside.

The Tower of the Winds is an octagonal building, with two grand entrances (on opposite sides of the structure), a plethora of windows, and a circular addition on one side, which houses the spiral staircase. We’ve walked past it many a time as we’ve cut through the estate, and I’ve always commented on its fine quirkiness. So, it was a real treat today to be able to see the interior (the downstairs was nothing special, but upstairs is unexpectedly decorative with a stunning ceiling).

A return trip to this estate is most certainly called for, with a whole day to spare, to explore more fully.

[And as a complete digression: it seems that we’ve had rather a turn of luck today. We’d not reached the end of the road today before I realised that I’d forgotten to double lock the front door. Being security conscious, I was all set to return home to rectify the security, but Husband convinced me he had actually closed the door and that we didn’t need to go back. Returning home this afternoon we had a visit from Mr. Policeman who told us that three of our neighbours were broken into today. They used next door’s drive to secrete their car whilst they carried out this spree. I have no idea why they didn’t opt to do our house too (perhaps they looked through the windows and accurately assessed that there was nothing worth taking? Perhaps they’ll be back for ours tomorrow?), but had they so opted, they would have found that we’d left them a very easy means of entry and exit. I shall be more careful in future!]


  1. I think I've cracked it (posting, that is!) We've had my mum staying. Eighty six and almost outwalks me but she flatly refuses to go into a field or anywhere where there's a cow, horse, sheep, etc.

  2. I sympathise with not wanting to go into fields with big beasts such as cows and horses - they get much respect from me (and often a bit of whimpering when they try to stampede me)!

    Sheep have always struck me as pretty harmless though (except maybe if you sit down for lunch in popular areas where they're a bit too used to being able to steal sandwiches).

    But, I guess that if you're still an able walker in your mid-eighties then you've earned the right to choose exactly where you want to walk and set your own rules as to where you won't go.