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]

Sunday 15 April 2007

Time for a Lengthy Update

I’ve been quiet of late as I’ve been trying to put together my full write-ups of my last three walks (I’ve no doubt got lots of relatives staring at their letter boxes on a daily basis waiting for them to arrive).

By way of a summary:

Cumbria Way
On 28 March we went off to walk the Cumbria Way. We could hardly have wished for better weather given the time of year. The first day was fine, but very hazy; the second brought drizzle; the third was back to fine and very hazy. Days four and five were stunning clear blue skied days. We’re just not used to being out in the hills in such conditions! Of course, the clear days did bring cold nights and on two mornings we did wake up to a frosty tent. The night up by High Pike was definitely the chilliest – that tested my lighter sleeping bag down to its lower limit (and I was impressed)

We completed the walk without a problem and had a fantastic time. We happily would have continued beyond Carlisle and seen where our feet would take us – but alas responsibility gave the louder cry so we had to return to reality.

Alan Sloman
Alan Sloman is currently walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats via a somewhat interesting, and longer than normal, route. I’ve been reading his blog since he started it (, and after listening to his podcast with Podcast Bob ( I got in touch and arranged to meet up with him to walk with him for a day.

So, Good Friday (6 April) was a bit of a departure for me, as I’ve never before met up with a complete stranger to go for a walk. I caught a couple of trains to get me to Prestbury, from where I walked the 2.6 miles to Bollington where Alan was staying. Having introduced ourselves, we set out for the scheduled walk to Edale, and after twenty minutes or so realised that we were walking in completely the wrong direction. Ooops. I must be a bad influence.

We got back on track and only had one other minor navigational issue before we finally got ourselves out of Bollington in the right direction an hour later.

The day was perfect for walking – clear and sunny, but with a nice cool breeze.

I walked with Alan (who is a very nice man) as far as Chapel-en-le-Frith, when, after he had led me to spend an hour with him in the worst pub in the entire place (it was the first pub we saw; upon leaving we found another five or six pubs up the road that looked infinitely nicer – but sods law would dictate that if we’d shunned the first pub we wouldn’t have found another) I left him to his final few miles and I walked up to Chinley to find a train to take me back as far as Derby. Standing on the platform at Chinley (where it really is just a platform in the middle of two tracks – there’s nothing else there to warrant calling it a station) I called Husband who kindly agreed to come and pick me up from Derby.

An excellent day – and a few tips picked up for our LEJOG expedition next year – the main one (particularly after the start we had to the day) that 1:25k maps are definitely worthwhile.

Pity this is just a summary – I could enthuse at some length about this day!

Easter Saturday
Despite having walked 15 miles with Alan Sloman on Good Friday, a training walk was called for on Saturday. Husband and I set out under clear skies to take our usual route across fields and along lanes, but after a couple of hours rather than swinging back around to make it a circular route, we continued along paths that we haven’t walked since this time last year.

These paths eventually brought us to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Armitage and we followed the canal (with a brief detour via a pub for a spot of lunch) for what felt like about 20 miles, but in reality was only 8 (ooh, the feet ached by the time we left the tow-path at Shugborough).

It was then but a hop skip and a jump to get ourselves onto Cannock Chase, where by freak coincidence we found ourselves approach Stepping Stones at the exact same moment as another chap who is on our Keswick to Barrow Team was crossing over our path. He had also been walking for 6 hours, so the fact that we happened to reach the same point at the exact same time was quite a feat.

We met him again a while later (when we decided to climb a slope up to the high point of that part of the Chase, just for the fun of it), but by then we had called my Mother to ask for a lift home, so had to head off back to Rifle Range Corner where we had arranged to meet (even summoning the energy for a bit of a jog in the last mile).

The mileage for the day was 22 miles in around 7.5 hours (including breaks).

And that brings us up to today…

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