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 3 May 2009

From Uttoxeter to Ellastone (And Back)

By ten past eight this morning the earlier rain* had abated, there was blue amongst the clouds and we were back in the Station car park at Uttoxeter. Five minutes later we were walking north – always a good direction to be heading when one of the party is heading for John O’Groats.

Again farmland was the theme of the day, but with one notable difference today: there were lumpy bits and from some of the (very modest) inclines there were appreciable views to be had.

Three and three quarter hours after leaving Uttoxeter, we reached Ellastone where a pub was marked on the map. The pub had been discussed. It was our focus. It was going to supply us not only with beer but also hopefully with chips or some such snacks (I had managed to pick up something for lunch, but completely fail to pick up all of the snacks that I usually eat during the course of a day-walk and so was ready to start gnawing on my own arm). Alas, despite Ellastone being the sort of village that looked like its pub should be thriving on a Sunday lunchtime, it turned out to be closed. What a blow!

Across the road was a bus shelter with a bench – which was no competition as a lunch venue against a pub, but in the absence of an open pub, it had to make do.

Half and hour later (after Geoff had taken pity on my lack of food and donated two of his flapjack slices to me, which I gratefully received) it was time to go our separate ways. I was simply going to retrace my steps back to Uttoxeter, whereas Geoff is continuing his journey and his adventure.

Having walked the same paths that very same morning, you might think that the navigation on the way back wouldn’t be too difficult.

Within five minutes of leaving the village of Ellastone, I realised that wasn’t going to be the case. As I walked alongside the river I had absolutely no recollection of having been there before. That’s what happens when more time is spent chatting than concentrating on the surroundings!

With a bit of map work I did get back to a point that I remembered, and it seems that my attention had only waned towards the end of the morning’s walk as the latter parts of my return journey were much more familiar (compass still came out a few times, but then the game was ‘spot the stile’ and one green field does look very much like another).

In a complete contrast to my nervousness of farm animals last year, when I had to re-cross the field of overly-inquisitive young cows, I didn’t even that the trouble to walk around them as they lazed on the ground. Instead, I walked straight through (they ignored my comments to them that they needn’t get up) and, as a boost to my confidence in such situations, once again I didn’t get trampled.

It seemed like only a few paces later that I was back at the car – having taken an hour less on the return leg than on the outward. It didn’t feel like we were walking slowly during the morning, but navigating across farmland does, I find, tend to take time with the map-work and, of course, my incessant chatting probably also slowed us down.

My total stats for the day were 14.5 miles covered, with (wait for it…) a whole 800 feet of ascent. Geoff was scheduled to cover 17 miles – about which he will almost certainly blog tomorrow. You can follow his journey here.


Geoff (sporting his third backpack of the trip) strides towards a lumpy landscape


And then somehow I got ahead and he strode towards me


I proved once again that I’m crap with the SticPic, and in changing the size of the photo also accidentally inverted the colours. I thought it looked better like this!


But for completeness, here’s the extraordinarily badly composed proper version (and you’d be right to think that my hair has been cropped to the extreme – the barber was so busy chatting that he just kept shaving – shorter and shorter and shorter)


No story here – the house just caught my eye as I left Ellastone


Aaaah! (and in about 3 months time: “Mint sauce!”)

(*With rain falling first thing I had reached for the Paramo VAL thinking that it would get a waterproofness test before the TGOC. As it went I proved that it’s most definitely wearable in warmer temperatures than my standard Velez, but once again it wasn’t troubled with rain.)

1 comment:

  1. It looks like you used your walking stick to take your portrait.

    Good idea!

    Mint sauce for the wee ones.