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]

Monday, 3 September 2007

Sunday On The Chase

Continuing our recent run of good luck with walking weather, Sunday dawned with a clear blue sky.

We soon ruined the weather by the application of high factor of sun cream, but despite the gathering clouds the sky still held promise of staying dry and it was warm out.

We perhaps should have gone out to explore somewhere new, maybe even being so radical as to pop up the road to the Peak District, but in the end laziness won over and we opted to just pop over to Cannock Chase.

For a bit of variety, we journeyed over to the north side of the Chase, to a place called Punch Bowl. Whilst we’ve not set out from there before, we’re reasonably familiar with the area, having walked through many times after we’ve already completed the 20 mile walk from home.

Off we set without a plan (having walked the area so extensively, there’s not a single marked right of way that we haven’t already explored), adopting instead an approach of wandering aimlessly. At the second junction of paths we shunned the four main-path options and took a little trail uphill. From there, every time we got to a junction we just chose at random.

(Our journey along these seldom trodden minor paths was peppered with ‘potential campsite there’ comments. It’s all the fault of that John Hee, you know. Even though I professed earlier in the year that I wouldn’t even entertain an entry into his hip-pack competition, the thought has made its way into the back of my mind. The Chase would be a convenient location to try out the bivvy bag and thus every suitable bit of ground was being considered. And there’s just so much fuel around for the Bushbuddy…)

Inevitably, such a lax wandering approach, without any attention paid to map and compass, led after an hour to us finding that we had just walked in a loop. Even so, we saw some views that we hadn’t seen before,

Fine Views!
we had fun walking down some trails that were so overgrown with fern (above head height) that I kept losing sight of Husband, and some of the inclines we found were certainly getting the blood pumping.

Losing Husband in the overgrown ferns

Oh, and we stumbled across the Millenium Sundial (our experiment with which involved a little bit of guesswork, given that the sun was completely obscured behind a skyful of clouds).

Millennium Sundial (The stones around the edge have roman numerals on them which denote the time; stand on the appropriate month on the slab, see where your shadow lands, add an hour for BST).

Our arrival at another junction for the second time saw us get the compass out and apply a bit more precision to our walk and not long after we arrived at somewhere that we recognised.

Although we recognised it, it looked so different to usual. I then realised that we only generally walk around Cannock Chase between January and May. The swathes of purple heather and huge quantities of fern of late summer is not something I’ve witnessed in recent years (and already the tips of the fern is beginning to die off and some of the trees are changing colour).

The high ferns also turned out to be the answer to the question of where the deer hide in daylight hours. Bashing my way through the greenery, I’m not sure which of us jumped the most when I startled a deer hiding there!

Stepping Stones (library from 4 Feb - I didn't take one this week.)

Lunch at the popular spot of Stepping Stones (so few people out and about on this walk, but there’s still always a few families to be found at Stepping Stones) was marred slightly by the ignoramuses (ignorami?) who had had a party there at some point recently and thought it acceptable to leave the party size disposable barbeques, broken glasses and general detritus underneath one of the tables. Lunch was also marred by the fact that the people on the next table had a full-on picnic whereas we had oatcakes with a tube of vegetable pate. I groaked hard, but the neighbours just weren’t paying heed!

After lunch another reasonably sized loop was executed further to the south. The surroundings were all enjoyable (except for the bit where it sounded like a war had broken out, as we passed by the neighbouring shooting club) but it was with disappointment that I found that the ice cream van wasn’t present at Seven Springs as we passed by. I’d been fantasising about an ice cream for the previous hour!

Except for a few short drizzly spells, the rain held off until we were within half a mile of the car. Excellent timing.

As we have no clue where precisely we walked for the first chunk of the day, I’ve not been able to measure the distance that we covered. Our guess (based on time and pace) was that it was around 9 or 10 miles. Again, not particularly far, but thanks to the short jogette around the village before we went out for the walk, my legs were feeling reasonably exercised by the end of the day.

All being well, next weekend will involve hills. Maybe even reasonably big hills…

[Note: This was my first experiment with putting photos amongst the text. As you'll see, it's not gone incredibly well. I will sort out the formatting, but I've already spent an hour getting increasingly annoyed with it, so that's a job for another day)

1 comment:

  1. I have never managed to properly sort out posting the photos - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't when you click on them to make them larger.

    Also, when you insert photos into the text, I find all the line spacing goes to pot and the left/right justification goes up the spout too.

    Best to get Mr Hee to do it for you like I did on my walk - he did it perfectly!


    Anyway - ta for the piccies - it brings the blog to life for lazy sods like me!