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]

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Shoes, Books and Shopping

After seven days of sitting around doing nothing, this morning we were to be found ambling along a canal into Wolverhampton (which is where we’re temporarily living). It wasn’t simply a matter of getting out walking for the fun of it; we were on our way to the train station to pop over to Cotswold Outdoor in Birmingham for new footwear.

Last time we took the route of this canal (in March this year) the notable thing about it was that it looked unused. As with so many of the canals we encountered on our jaunt through Britain, it had no boats, moored nor moving. Today, being a glorious sunny day (and my goodness, it’s noticeably warmer down here than we’ve been experiencing in Scotland in recent weeks), both of the first two locks we passed had boats in them, heading uphill towards the city. Bet they were both in for a shock when they got one lock further up to find the canal behind empty of water – particularly as there’s no turning point. However, I digress.

Over to Birmingham we went, and contrary to my usual practice of trying on every piece of footwear in the shop, I was quick in my choice, buying the second pair I tried. They weren’t stocking the Salomon XA Pro XCR, which is what I had intended to buy (in a half size bigger than the toe-eating pair with which I set out from Land’s End). I came away with the Salomon Elios Mid XCR – hardly a comparable shoe to the XA Pro, but I fancied giving them a try.

Mick was equally precise in his selection. They were catering better for boys in the XA range, so he was able to get a straight replacement for the pair that he wore out quite comprehensively during April and May. Pity about the colour of the replacements; I preferred the garish green of his old ones.

He also came away with a pair of Keen Hybrids (a cross between a sandal and a shoe).

Already flinching from the thought of how much this little lot was going to come to, I managed to make it from the shoe dept (right at the back of the store) to the till without being distracted by any other goodies.

The plan then was to go straight back to the station.

Is it possible to walk past a big branch of Waterstones without falling inside? Do they have some form of person magnet?

Having accidentally stumbled inside of this immense store, I headed straight for the travel section, my mind thinking towards a copy of North to the Cape and a few other Cicerone titles. Alas, despite it being the biggest bookshop I’ve been in, they let me down. Not a single title that I wanted.

Mick heaved a sigh of relief. I won’t be plotting any more walks this week.


  1. North to the Cape is brilliant. I used it for my Cape Wrath section of the LEJOG from roughly Falls of Glomach to Cape Wrath.

    Bob Cartwright and Lee Wells also followed it from roughly Ullapool to the Cape.

    One hell of a walk!

  2. And I'll be walking it in just under two months time. In the meantime, drooling over 'North to the Cape' and relevant maps!

    Well done on your resolve as you left gear shop without goodies Gayle!