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]

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Day 13 – Ansty to Tamworth

Saturday 3 April

Distance: 21.5 miles (Tot: 244 miles)

IMG_0244Wendy last night

It was something of a novelty this morning, after 6 days of canal walking, to start the day by heading across farmland. The dew-soaked grass had the benefit of cleaning our shoes, and I was quite surprised to be reminded that mine are light grey rather than the deep brown to which I had become accustomed!

A few fields later, and after a crop field had added four pounds to the weight of our shoes (that mud was as clay-like as it gets), we were back on the canal – not the Oxford with its awful tow-paths, but the Coventry (our third, but far from last, canal of the trip). The tow-paths were in much better condition, but even maintenance can’t get around the problem of mud after days of rain.

I’d really like to share with you some startlingly interesting point of the day or news of some stunning view, but we were on our sixth day of canal walking and as inoffensive as much of it is, breath-taking views and exciting terrain (unless you count nearly mud-sliding into the canal as exciting) there is not.  There were plenty of craft pootling along, and quite a few people out walking – and more unfortunately dreadfully large amounts of litter as we passed through Nuneaton and Atherstone.

Atherstone was where a big groan was wrenched from us. The size of the barrier across the tow-path and overhanging the canal, displaying a ‘tow-path closed’ notice, precluded us swinging around it or climbing over in ignorance of its prohibition even though we felt reasonably sure that no work would be taking place on Easter weekend.

Instead, we found a route around, which also led us past a bench, which gave me the opportunity to remove the bit of grit which had been lodged between two of my toes for the previous couple of hours. Stupid really. I knew that bit of grit was there, and kept thinking “If I don’t get that out of there, I’ll get a blister”, and yet, as it wasn’t actually painful, I couldn’t quite be bothered to take the trouble to sit down and take my mud-covered shoe off (did I mention that mud was still a prevalent feature? Seems that it’s rained quite a bit this last week…). Of course, by the time the bench presented itself and I took the trouble to take my shoe off, I had a blister, albeit as soon as I’d removed the grit it caused me no trouble.

The diversion had us back on the canal shortly before the pub we had earmarked for lunch (big diversion for lunch today – must have been 100 yards off route!), where I was served the best chips I’ve had in a very long time (real chips, made of real potatoes, cooked to perfection and never having seen a freezer).

By the time we were approaching Tamworth the feet, knowing that a day off was approaching, started complaining loudly. We did the only thing we could and ignored them as we strode on all the way to the railway station.

A train and a bus and a walk (because we needed a bit more of a walk!) saw us through our own front door, and so I’m typing this from the comfort of my own sofa, looking forward to a very lazy day off tomorrow.


  1. Enjoy your day off on your own sofa. Mr S will be very jealous as he lies in his freezing Wanda!

    Don't you feel a little as if you are cheating!?

  2. 244 Miles already!. I am enjoying following your walk. Have a good rest and don't worry about Mr Sloman at all. You make your bed and lie init ;)

  3. At least you know there's better to come!

  4. Martin B - Do I feel like we're cheating? On careful consideration, the answer has to be: no, not at all!

    Martin R - 244 miles in 13 days: a ridiculous notion, I thought, but actually not too bad in reality.

    Robin - I fear that I've made it sound like the first two weeks weren't enjoyable and good fun (which, in the main, they most definitely were), but you're right that the more interesting and spectacular terrain is that yet to come. Can't wait!