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]

Thursday 3 January 2008

Cannock Chase and Dovedale

Yesterday saw us take our first walk of the year. It was not long, nor particularly interesting, but it fitted nicely into a spare hour and a half that we had available to us.

There’s really not much to say about it. The location was Cannock Chase. The route was almost our usual 7.5 mile circuit, except that half an hour into it I realised that, even with the ridiculous pace that we were setting, it would be difficult to fit the distance into the time. So, we wandered onto paths that we’ve not before trodden and ended up completing a very brisk 5 miles (which just about qualifies it to go in my mileage log).

Today we had more of a plan and more time available to us. The chosen location was Dovedale.

Friends had suggested a walk there a couple of months ago, but knowing that it gets ridiculously busy on a weekend, we’d plumped for somewhere slightly less obvious on that occasion, leaving Dovedale for a weekday. Today looked a pretty good choice to avoid crowds - a weekday with temperatures forecast not to rise above freezing and with snow threatened.

There were a few cars in the car park just outside Thorpe when we arrived, and off we set along the east side of Dovedale.

The few people pottering around had petered out within half a mile and for the next mile or so we enjoyed solitude in which to appreciate the surroundings and the birdlife.
Pity I didn't take a photo that showed the true nature of these rock features.

A half-hour interlude was had when we came across a stray, young dog and made endeavours (successful) to reunite it with its owner (who turned out to be a local farmer). Alas, despite sitting next to Dovedale Holes for that half an hour, I completely failed to take any photos of them!

Husband in his element (he *really* wants a dog)

Towards Milldale, we started meeting people again, but we were soon by ourselves again as we left the valley and set off across farmland.

‘It’s snowing’ I said to Husband - but you really had to concentrate very hard to catch sight of the miniscule flakes that were occasionally falling. It was hardly the ‘blanket of white’ that had been forecast (now there’s a surprise).

My goodness, it was cold, mind! Particularly when we gained the higher ground (where I’m sure that the views would have been fine, had the day been a clear one) and got the full benefit of that -7 wind-chill. I was certainly ruing my failure to take a buff or scarf with me to save my frozen chin!

Plenty of fields, that would have been very muddy in places had the ground not been frozen solid, led us to a lane, where we were to pick up the Limestone Way, which would take us back to Thorpe. It's not a good photo at all, but anyone know what that structure is?

I obviously hadn’t paid too much attention when I planned this route, because I completely failed to notice until we hit the Limestone Way that we’d walked this section before, albeit in the other direction, back in 2006.

A thousand gap stiles (and very narrow gaps at that) led us back to Thorpe, where to avoid the road we headed back, around the conical looking Thorpe Cloud, to Stepping Stones, from where it was but a hop skip and a jump along a now remarkably busy riverside path, back to the rather-busier-now car park.

It was a jolly pleasant 8 miles on a jolly cold-feeling day.


  1. Hi Gayle,Looks like you had a great day out.I am enjoying reading your postings so keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Trenthamwalker - and thanks for the words of appreciation!

  3. Hi Gayle
    Really appreciated the pictures since Cannock Chase and Dovedale were top of my list of places to go when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

    Best of luck with your Lejog walk, I'm very jealous.