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, 21 January 2014

Week 3

Another week has passed, 58 more miles have been walked, and I’ve ended the week just one mile shy of equalling my highest January mileage on record. I think I’ve probably broken all previous records for the number of ponds walked past in the space of a week too (but that’s not a statistic I collect!). image

Alas, the stats don’t look quite so impressive in terms of ascent, which currently stands at a paltry 4900 feet for the month (of which 4000 feet have been added in the last week)! A day’s worth of ascent in 21 outings isn’t great, is it?

Last Wednesday was the day when I first tackled the fact that my legs have forgotten what a hill looks like by breaking the ‘walks from home’ theme and tootling over to Cannock Chase for my first outing there in a long time. It was a bit of a grey day for it.


Curtailed views on this murky day, but still far more attractive than my immediately local area

The views were broken up every now and then by the continued proliferation of signs. Some of them are good and informative; some aren’t:


It seems that phytophthora disease is continuing to cause problems and this sign says what is being done and how the public can help to stop the disease spreading


Last year fences started appearing on the Chase, followed by cattle. This sign explains what is going on (and next time I will venture into one of the enclosures for a closer look)


I could understand this sign better if it wasn’t in an overflow car-park which is seldom used. The local remote-controlled car club must be a rowdy, troublesome lot.

Having passed all of those signs, and not long after a tea and cake break, I came across the most bizarre thing. It’s in a location that I’ve walked past many a time before, and yet I’ve never noticed it. I wonder whether it’s relatively new, because nothing about it looks like it has been there very long. The thing in question is a level crossing, with the usual sign about how to cross:


And there are the usual gates and telephone. No sign of rust on anything, both gates and fencing all in good condition like it’s no more than a few years old.


The very odd thing about this, however, is that there’s not a railway running through here. There is just a single length of track been laid:


What in the world is all that about? I really would like to know, but Google hasn’t helped me on this one.

Thursday and Friday saw me taking a couple of unremarkable walks in the local area (both slightly different routes; I’m impressing myself with how many different routes I’m coming up with in such a small area).

Saturday was slightly more memorable only because of how nasty the weather looked when I first peeked outside. A pep-talk from Mick got me out the door (whereupon the rain eased and soon stopped) and in a rush of blood to the head I opted for another ridiculously muddy route (it seems to be becoming a weekly theme!), but one that I haven’t walked since about this time last year. I doubt that I’ll do it again until next January either.

Sunday’s outing was notable for two reasons: 1) Mick came with me for the first half of my outing, chalking up his first miles since New Year’s Day; and 2) I found myself thrashing around in woodland (within a mile of home) with no idea how to get out of it (I ended up retracing my steps before trying again and successfully getting out the other side).

I had intended to go to work on Monday, but when I heard Mick scraping the car as he left for work, I swiftly decided that going for a walk would be far more pleasing (albeit less lucrative). What I didn’t realise until I entered the first field was how foggy it was, but I figured that would keep the ground frozen for longer:


Curtailed views


Looks a bit brighter in that direction, but it was just a localised thinning – on the second half of my outing the fog was really quite thick.

The frost had worked its magic and the mires had solidified. I’m not convinced that frozen (deeply-rutted) mires are any easier to walk than the liquid form, but it’s certainly cleaner.


Frozen mud. I’d waded through that in its liquid form the day before.

This pond is only just over half a mile from our house; until Sunday I never knew that it existed (hmmm, perhaps I should write a separate post about National Forest and why features like this so local to home can remain unknown for so long):


That brings us to today, when I again shunned work to drive through fog worse than yesterday’s for another outing on the Chase. It was almost a repetition of last Wednesday’s visit, except this time I remembered to take a sandwich with me and, suitably fuelled, I added in a few extra paths, some of which I’ve not walked before. IMG_0103

I didn’t take any photos today. This one’s from last week. It was pretty similar today, but with a nicer sky

Arriving back at the car, I immediately noticed that the pot-holed car park that I had left four and a half hours earlier was no longer pot-holed – or at least 99% of it wasn’t. During my absence, a new layer of hard-core-like-stuff-used-to-surface-car-parks had been added. I don’t know how long it took them to complete the task, but apparently my car was the only one that remained in place for the duration of the resurfacing. So, it is all my fault that my favourite car park has one corner which remains unsurfaced and pot-holed. Ooops.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Gayle. I found this on your level crossing thingy. Quite bizarre. If this link is in the same place as your crossing then it explains it.

  3. Alan - you are a star for finding that. The mystery is solved. Even though the advertised location is misleading (the crossing being located behind the Cannock Chase Visitor Centre, a couple of miles away from the Birches Valley Forest Centre), the fact that there is also a single length of power lines standing over the crossing (which you probably can't see in the dodgy photo taken with my iGadget) confirms that this must be the crossing in question. It would have been even more bizarre if I'd come across it for the first time on a day when it was being used for training!

  4. I thought it was going to be the supply rail route for the new nuclear reprocessing site destined for Cannock Chase... All that radioactivity should surely be welcomed - it could get rid of the phytophthora disease.
    Impressive walking. I've managed a giddy 22 miles and 790 feet. Might need to get out more...

  5. Hmmm. I know I deleted the first one, sure I made a second...
    Any road up, interesting way of personalising a parking spot.