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, 19 May 2008

Day 35 - North Rode, Congleton to Whaley Bridge

19 May
Distance: 15 miles
No. of mean-looking bulls around which we diverted: 1
Song of the day: Proclaimers, I would walk 500 miles

The day started along the canal and so it continued for some miles, but not all was to go smoothly. We were just approaching Macclesfield when into view came a large barrier across the tow path with 'Path Closed - Entry Prohibited' signs prominently displayed.

Further information told us that the closure was due to the collapse of a wall and that a diversion was necessary. I'm not a big fan of unexpected diversions, particularly on a walk of this nature, so around the barrier I swung myself, perilously overhanging the canal to complete the manoeuvre, and along the closed section I proceeded (trespassed, I supposed).

I had hoped that just around the bend the obstruction would come into view so that I could gauge how passable it was. Mick followed me and ten minutes further on we had still found nothing.

It turned out that the fall was immediately before the end of the closed section, and it was one impressive collapse. The wall in question was about 15 feet high, made of large stone blocks, and it had given way from the bottom, causing an entire section of intact wall to slide out, coming to rest at an angle of about 45 degrees.

We assessed it for safety, decided that it looked completely stable, and climbed around its bottom edge. For once I agree that this was a necessary closure, rather than the usual precautionary overzealous health and safety sort (not that I make a habit of ignoring closure signs and inspecting the problems causing them...).

An intentional detour was then made from our route around Bollington to ensure that we passed a shop, and as it turned out our progress through the village was slow. First there was the stop at the shop, then a lengthy pause at the Post Office (outside of which a woman pressed a pound into Mick's hand for Macmillan, which added itslf to the £5 donated by last night's B&B), then, just as we were fancying a cup of tea, we came across the Bridgend Centre (

What a fantastic community facility it turned out to be. The offer of tea/coffee and a biscuit for 50p was enough to draw us through the door and once there one of the ladies manning the centre gave us the full tour of its facilities.

As well as the usual village hall sort of facilities it has a library, a wood workshop, a well equipped computer centre, a large second hand shop, a library area and a studio area set up for transmitting a local radio station, which is used for teaching media to youngsters.

On top of all of that, they have a magnificent sampler on the wall, measuring 5 feet by 10, which took 35 local people 7 years to sew (photo to follow).

And, on top of all that they organise lots of community activities, including walks around the local area, with a particular emphasis on getting children into walking on the basis that if you start them young they'll continue to be walkers for life.

It struck me as the sort of facility that every large village should have, and we stayed quite a while chatting to the ladies there (during which time lots of people dropped by, proving how well used it is), before eventually the hills started calling us.

This morning there had been lumps on the horizon and this afternoon we reached them. It was quite a shock to the legs and lungs after a few days of flatness.

As we walked up the lumps I noted that, ignoring the 200 yards of Welshpool's high street, today was the first day on the entire route so far of which I have walked part before. It was on Good Friday 2007 that I arrived in Bollington to meet a (then) complete stranger by the name of Alan Sloman ( who was at the time in the process of walking LEJOG. That prior knowledge helped somewhat with route finding.

We also noted that today saw us complete our 500th mile since Land's End. That feels like a milestone worthy of a minor celebration.


  1. Wow. 500 miles. Clap. Clap. Cheer. Cheer.

  2. Just catching up with your blog when I should be working! (Just back from my TGO Challenge.)

    Excellent stuff G&M - Keep going - its a great read.