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]

Monday, 3 March 2008

Training Walks: Last Week and This

I’ve not mentioned a training walk for a couple of weeks, but rest assured that we have been making a bit of an effort.

A week last Sunday we set out onto Cannock Chase with the aim of completing 15 miles with our loaded packs.

We didn’t do anything novel or exciting, but then a training walk doesn’t demand those traits (call me lazy, but a walk that doesn’t require any navigation is fine by me for such purposes).

The first five miles were part of one of our regular circuits but we deviated to continue along the Heart of England Way where we usually would have turned off. Then we wandered over to what in my mind is ‘the other side of the Chase’, that being a particular area that we don’t often visit.

For the first hour or so of our walk the weather had been fine and I was ruing my decision (based on the forecast and how the day looked) to wear full Paramo. My, I was hot! Then, as we stopped for snacks at Stepping Stones it was as if someone had turned off the lights and the heating with it. The early afternoon suddenly looked deceptively like sundown and with remarkable speed all of the families and dog walkers disappeared.

Not long afterwards, the rain started. It stayed with us on and off for the rest of the day. Given the fall in temperature that accompanied the rain I was, on balance, most pleased to have selected the Paramo ensemble.

A special treat was had as we passed one of the Visitor Centres: tea and fruit cake. It was almost enough to put a spring into my step as we set back out into the rain!

A modest circuit was completed on ‘the other side of the Chase’, including an accidental passing into an area reserved for kamikaze mountain bikers. Big signs warned us that bikers were liable to emerge onto the path from both sides without warning and at speed. Having seen some of the trails and jumps, I’m glad that it was quiet as we swiftly passed through.

The route delivered us back to the car just before dusk having walked 14.5 miles with a surprising 2000 feet of ascent.


For this Sunday’s walk we went for the environmentally friendly option of walking from the house (admittedly that was largely dictated by the late hour at which we became free to set out and not wanting to waste daylight by travelling anywhere).

It was one of our usual circuits of farmland about which I often struggle to make any new observations. Today’s notable point was when, crossing fields on which we have never before seen a single person, we found ourselves with a hoard of 20 or so Ramblers heading in our direction. “Hello”, “Hello”, “Yes, lovely isn’t it”, “Hello” was the theme for a while there.

Otherwise things were pretty much as they usually are.

The stats were 12 miles with no ascent worthy of mention, but completed in lovely weather.

We had good intentions to build on this, with our sights set on a 15-miler today. Details to follow.


  1. You do have to be careful in the mountain bike area. Did you cross the one near birches valley or over by the Special Events Area close to severn springs? If the latter, you really have to be careful because its the main downhill course and the riders will do blind turns as fast as possible. Its the point of the dedicated course - keep us (I'm also a keen biker) away from us (and a walker!) and we are both enjoyers of travelling across the countryside - just at differing speed.

  2. It was an area in Regent's Wood, near to (but as far as I can make out from the signs, not within) one of the Special Events Areas. It wasn't one of the areas signed as being specifically for bikers to the exclusion of horses and pedestrians - I would have kept out in that case!

    In this case the track through the middle is fairly straight (so good visibility) and at this time of year there's no undergrowth and greenery to hide approaching bikers. I think I would have given it a wide berth on a summer's day.

    All the same, I think that I'll be looking out a slightly different way around that point of our circuit - I don't want to chance my luck (and limbs) unnecessarily!