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]

Friday, 2 January 2009

Start As You’d Like To Go On

It’s likely that I’ll be doing a lot of walking locally over the next few months (what with having no car whilst Mick’s away) and it’s equally likely that I’ll be getting quite bored of repetitions on the same theme.

So, as we were going to be passing across Cannock Chase today it seemed like a good idea to stop off for a quick stroll – even if that did just mean walking one of my regular routes.

It was 2pm by the time we left the car park (in which I’ve not before seen even a quarter of the number of cars there were today; it’s been busy out this last week! Yesterday was ‘let’s go for a New Year walk’ day, today I guessed that it was the ‘back to work/school on Monday’ realisation that caused everyone to squeeze in one more day of fresh air and exercise) and off we headed into one of the less attractive sections of forest.

As pleasant as it was, there’s not a lot to say about it.

Around the Visitor Centre and the ponds it was busy, but as is usually the case, elsewhere we saw not a single other person walking, but a handful of mountain bikers.

When we reached the brook about three quarters of the way around, just by the ponds, it was to the sight of a queue of people coming the other way, waiting to use the stepping stones. The brook is not deep, so we just walked on through without putting ourselves in any danger of wet feet. Heads swivelled in our direction as we did so, as if we were perhaps slightly strange for not wanting to use the stones.

The fishing ponds, beautifully still today, were partially frozen over,Image054and obviously lots of people had been entertaining themselves by throwing stones onto the ice. Indeed, as we approached a family bent to collect handfuls of stones and started throwing them at the surface.


The oscillating whistling sound made by the stones as they skimmed the whole way across the ice to the other side of the pond was quite incredible. It apparently pleased the stone throwers too, as it accompanied us until we were out of earshot.

Whereas yesterday’s short walk was all but flat, today’s had a couple of short, but reasonably steep, slopes in it. Happily the knee had no objection to the gentler downhill. It protested a tiny bit on the more violent uphill, but I did wonder whether I would have noticed if I hadn’t been so fixated on whether it was hurting or not.

By the time we got back to the car park the light was far duller than the hour of day suggested that it should be.

The stats were a modest 4.25 miles with fewer than 500 feet of ascent.

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