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]

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

I Fought The Millennium Way …


…The Millennium Way won.

After many recent repetitions of the local paths, I finally put my car back on the road this week*, so today I took advantage of having motorised transport at my disposal to take myself a few miles down the road to walk a 16-mile circuit using mainly the Way for the Millennium for my outward leg and the Trent & Mersey canal for the return leg**.

I don’t think I’ll be walking that route again soon, or if I should get a rush of blood to my head and do so, I’ll wear long trousers. The photo above is the section of my left leg between the bottom of my shorts and my knee. The other leg looks the same. The lower legs aren’t too pretty either. And they smart. They *really* smarted when I applied more suncream at lunchtime and they weren’t too happy with the shower that followed the walk either.

The main culprits for the damage were goose grass intertwined in a field of barley and a field of collapsed rape. Nettles, thistles and brambles also cropped up quite a lot.


The long stuff in this field is a dense blanket of thistles

It turns out that I actually walked over 17 miles on my 16-mile walk. The extra resulted from me going back and forth stubbornly trying to find a path that was being illusive. It was only after I’d detoured via a road and got to its other end that I eventually found it (whereupon I did a quick out-and-back along it to satisfy my curiosity as to why I couldn’t find it from the other direction).

Anquet reports a dizzying 500’ of ascent, but that seems like a wild over-estimate to me.


Scratchy collapsed rape, bearing many pointy pods.

(*Yep, dithered for weeks, then bought car tax with just 7 days left in the month.

**Should have walked it the other way around, to give the wet grass and crops on the Way time to dry whilst I was walking the tow-path first thing; as it went, I squelched a lot.)


  1. Our LDWA walk last week resulted in similar legs. Norralot of fun.
    I came up with a mixture of Antihistamine cream and Germolene calmed my legs down - the smell was a bit funny though.

    1. Mick suggested Germolene. I objected that it would smart too much (girly wuss that I am).

  2. stephen potter27 June 2014 at 23:44

    All my paths, east riding and north Yorkshire, away from the national trails seem to be overgrown. Are councils cutting down on maintainence spending?

    1. It's almost inevitable that councils are cutting down on maintenance spending, but even so, I would say that most of my local paths are better than they were five years ago, as lots of stile maintenance and way-marking has been carried out. As to the overgrowth, I don't think it's worse around here this year than it has been previously; the paths are usually overgrown in summer, but if I venture out on them I usually have the forethought to wear clothing appropriate to what I expect to find (there are a couple of routes on which I always carry my waterproof trousers to don for short sections for nettle-protection purposes).

      Of course, if more people used these paths then a trodden path would be created, keeping the spikey and stingy things under control.

  3. Ouch nasty stuff that. The same sort of problem occured on my last trip. Waist high grss, with nettles and thistles. Not nice. Well done though.

    1. Talking of waist high grass, during the warm, dry weather we've had recently, I took one early morning walk that saw me soaking right up to my waist having waded through dew-soaked tall grass. If I'd met anyone further on, I'm sure they would have thought I'd taken a short-cut through one of the local ponds!

      And then there are the walks that require me to spend an age picking grass seeds out of my socks...

  4. Maybe the wet winter and early spring - plus the cold winds for much of May and June that kept people in and watching sport rather than getting out of doors - has given these coarse growths a spurt - not forgetting global warming and the common agricultural policy saturating the earth with surplus fertiliser, of course - etc etc. Think'st thou?

    1. My unscientific observations would suggest that nettles and brambles have almost equal success at growing (and then drooping over the paths) whether the weather has been generally wet or generally dry and whether the spring has been early or late. And, whilst I would like to think that the lack of foot traffic can be attributed to the summer of sport, the sad reality is that in ten years of walking one particular set of local paths, at all times of year, I can count the number of people-encounters there on the fingers of one hand (contrasted with the paths which are easily accessible from the village centre, where it is almost impossible to walk without encountering dog walkers).