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]

Saturday, 2 May 2009

From Rugeley to Uttoxeter

The trains did as trains should, and within five minutes of me arriving at Rugeley Trent Valley, along came Geoff’s train and a few moments later we were to be found perusing a map deciding which route to take to get ourselves onto the Staffordshire Way.

The longer canal route was chosen and soon we had picked up the tow-path that I have walked plenty of times in the past on Keswick to Barrow training excursions (the training for such an event being the only reason I can think of why I would find myself 15 miles from home in the midst of a circular walk). In fact, I was familiar with the Way right until we reached the pleasant village of Stockwell Heath (where I did let out an ‘aaah’ at the sight of a gaggle of tiny goslings), which is probably a good thing because I’ve noted before that chatting with someone and paying close attention to a map seldom go hand in hand.

From Stockwell Heath we did have to start paying attention and walking through more pleasant farmland (we did find mud obstacles, but thanks to the dry weather of late, not hideous ones) we found ourselves outside of a choice of two pubs in Abbott’s Bromley at lunch time.

Purely because Geoff needs the calories to fuel his long-distance walking extravaganza, we chose one for a helping of beer, following which it was fortunate that Geoff was on the ball as I was ready to walk the wrong way out of the village (nothing to do with the small helping of beer – more to do with being blonde and female).

A handful of other people were seen out and about shortly after Abbott’s Bromley, but as the afternoon wore on I was getting the distinct impression that fewer people walk the far north of the Staffs Way than the southern sections. The paths were becoming increasingly overgrown in places and whereas earlier in the day I had commented on how well waymarked the route is, the waymarks stopped being quite so consistent too (although some marks did turn out to be hidden or otherwise missed by us – fortunately only very minor amounts of backtracking were involved in our two accidental deviations).

We arrived back in Uttoxeter at 5.30, just as people were leaving the races, but it wasn’t silly-busy so the car was collected without fuss and a few moments later we were heading out of the town.

The mileage for the day was 12, through much green-and-pleasantness. We even got a view at one point. It’s not that it was a low-visibility day – on the contrary the weather was most well suited to walking and visibility was fantastic – it was just that on land that is so flat you don’t get views of any note.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be back at Uttoxeter station from where Geoff will make his way north to Alstonefield. My destination for the day will (for obvious reasons) be Uttoxeter, but I plan to also walk a short way north first. By the time I turn around to head back to the car, no doubt Geoff will be desperately hankering after a bit of peace and quiet!

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