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]

Thursday, 11 February 2010

First on Sunday, and Again Today

A few weeks ago I came up with a few routes, all reasonably local, that I thought we could walk as part of our mission to try to gain a little fitness and endurance. With Sunday looking like a free day, I suggested that we should try out one of these routes, and answering Mick’s enquiry I advised that it was 9.5 miles long.

“Not long enough” was Mick’s response.

So, back to the drawing board I went. Or, more precisely, I went to where I found the location of all of the caches in the vicinity of the route, and having added them in I came up with a route with six caches, and which looked nonsensically circuitous on paper. Circuitous is okay when you’re trying to add miles, though, and the wiggles also had the benefit of climbing up and down the biggest hills (peaking at a whole 40 metres above the usual flatness!) in the locale. The revised route was 15.5 miles, and with both of us satisfied that it was long enough, out we set on Sunday morning.

Just five minutes in it became apparent, with the plethora of snow drops, that spring is marching forth, irrespective of the remaining evidence of autumn:

IMG_0555 A while later we found ourselves in the unusual position of heading north on the Trent & Mersey (third time in eight years!), where we got to appreciate lots of industrial views, starting with the gravel works (deserted on Sunday, but with many a constant chink-chink-chink today as the gravel fell of those massive conveyor belts):

IMG_0556 Shortly afterwards there was a change of theme when Mick pointed out, on the other side of canal, the curious sight of llama and ostrich, which are not entirely the species expected in the vicinity of Burton-on-Trent. The sign to the left of the following snap advertises llama treks. Llama trekking? In Burton-on-Trent?!

IMG_0557 At Branston we swung off the canal to take a path through the Water Park (“Water Park” meaning a collection of flooded gravel pits), where I think that they’re keen to convey to all that the fishing is private and for members only:


(Google Translate suggests that it means ‘Ban on fish’)

Thence it was along a track to our first cache of the day, which we struggled to locate for a while as we barked up entirely the wrong tree (‘believe what the GPS is telling you’ is the message to be learnt here).

A pull up a bank gave us an excellent view over industrial Burton, and more pleasingly over the farmland surrounding:


IMG_0560A busy lane ended this distance-adding diversion, and plonked us back on the Trent & Mersey, where some sheep attracted our attention. My sheep-recognition abilities are right up there with my bird-recognition abilities, but to me these looked suspiciously like Herdwick, which are not a breed that I expect to find in this neck of the woods:

IMG_0562  A lunch-break later, we were passing Burton where even the canal showed plenty of evidence of the brewing heritage:

IMG_0563 The canal actually runs through the Marston’s brewery, but I didn’t notice until today (when I didn’t have the camera on me) the yard filled with an impressive number of kegs.

After a quick out-and-back detour to our fourth cache of the day, which saw us add a bit more ascent but didn’t add any benefit in terms of surroundings or view, we found ourselves walking up a hill that various logs on the geocaching website have described variously as tiring, steep and hardgoing. Really, it was a gently 30m climb on a tarmac track! However, completing the climb up to the ‘ridge’ which we were to follow for a while did afford us views of Burton which I have never before appreciated, all of which evidenced its brewing and industrial status:

IMG_0564 The photographic record would suggest that not much occurred for the next few miles (although I seem to recall prodigious amounts of mud (most of which was frozen today)) as the next photo taken was nearing the end of our walk when we came across this chap:

IMG_0568 “I’m sure that’s a Black Swan, from Australia” I said to Mick, and having taken the photo I didn’t stand my ground when the subject came running at me somewhat aggressively. I don’t care that I won on size and body mass; I had no interest in being a prime example of the rumour that a swan can break your arm!

Legs were aching (particularly mine) as we climbed the last two muddy little inclines of the day. The 15.5 miles had taken us just over 6 hours with all of the geocache faffing (five our of six found) and the slow-going mud.

Today, in the absence of anything better to do, we walked the route again but without the cache faffing and with the mud being mainly frozen under a smattering of snow. Without any need for navigation or cache-finding, we were a touch quicker.

1 comment:

  1. Although I do not wish it to become well 'known', but my sheep ID skills are very good! They are in fact Herdwick Sheep. The most common theory is that the ancestors of Herdwick sheep were introduced by early Norse settlers and they are a native breed to the Cumbria where I live. Interesting eh?