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 10 February 2008

The National Memorial Arboretum

Variety being the spice of life, we thought that for today’s walk we would vary from our usual local circuit of paths over local fields.

My first thought on seeing the fantastic weather forecast was that we should venture into the Peak District or into the Shropshire Hills, but those thoughts were soon countered with how busy both locations would be on a sunny Sunday.

The next plan was that we should pop over to the National Memorial Arboretum
at Alrewas, which we had been intending to visit for a while - and what better way to get there than on foot?

As we set out, I felt a little self-conscious walking through the village in trousers and shoes absolutely caked with mud from Wednesday’s walk (oops didn't get round to cleaning either), but we were soon on the canal and then on fields beyond, heading rapidly in the direction of Alrewas.

Posing Nonchalantly
I pose nonchalantly at a bridge over the River Trent

Looking Across the River to Alrewas

Looking over the River to Alrewas; What a glorious sunny day!

The A38 proved to be a bit of an impediment to our progress. Last year or the year before, the crash barriers in the middle of the A38 were replaced, and they were replaced with substantial new barriers somewhat taller than the standard model. Alas, when they placed the new barriers, they didn’t leave a gap at the point where the right of way that we were following crosses the road. So, not only did we have to dice with death in negotiating the busy dual carriageway, but we also had to clamber over two sets of barriers.

The next impediment was the impassable overgrown undergrowth about a hundred yards further along the right of way (I got the distinct impression that not many people pass this way!). A small backtrack and a minor diversion (not to mention the negotiation of a barbed wire fence) brought us back on track, only then to find that a huge, partially burnt rubbish heap lay in path of the right of way.

Over it we clambered, to then find that the tunnel under the railway track, which is marked on the OS map, doesn’t actually exist, but two good stiles and a sign telling us to stop look and listen for trains gave us comfort that we weren’t trespassing on the railway track as we crossed it.

A few paces further and we found ourselves on the outskirts of the arboretum.

We stopped to read a few of the memorials in the ‘death by motorcar’ section, a few in the ‘stillbirths’ section and a few of the Armed Forces memorials. Passing the RNLI memorial garden, we then started heading towards the crowds at the huge new Armed Forces Memorial.

This new national memorial consists of an obelisk, two semi-circular walls (with a gap in between which forms the central walk-way) and two straight walls, one running just inside each semi-circular wall. (for those saying ‘eh’ just now, some photos on this page
probably describe it better.)

Engraved on the walls of the Memorial are the names of all of those in the British Armed Forces who have lost their lives in the course of duty since the second world war.

There are an awful lot of names on those walls. Worse, there’s an awful lot of blank wall space that will yet be filled.

Husband sought out and found the names of ex-colleagues of his that he knew would be there and we spent a while looking around.

The Last Set Of Names on the Memorial
The last set of names on the wall, from 2006; amongst them ex-colleagues of Husband.

Because of the rapidly approaching rugby kick-off (or, perhaps more precisely, because of the late hour at which we had set out) we didn’t stick to my plan of walking a circuitous route home. Instead we retraced our steps, battling again with the blocked paths and with the traffic on the A38.

In the name of training, this walk was completed with backpacks. I’m glad that no-one asked us what we were carrying (something that happens to us every now and then when we’re walking places where you don’t usually see backpack-toting, mud-adorned people), because I would have had to confess that both of our packs primarily contained rolled up bath towels! My pack, weighing in at a modest 5.5 kilos, gave me no bother.

The stats were 9.75 miles, with (wait for it…) around 300 feet of ascent.

1 comment:

  1. All in all a bit of a bash but well done anyway!

    Getting out and walking is the best part!

    Well done!