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]

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Day 15 – Rugeley to Uttoxeter

Tuesday, 7 April

Distance: 11.75 miles

Number of Stiles: about 2050 (or so it seemed)

There was no repetition of the failure-to-set-alarm-oversleeping incident this morning, which was a good thing in that we had people to meet.

Those people were Stephen, Mike and Sam, all of whom used to work with Mick, and so it was as a party of five that we set out from Rugeley to tackle the Staffordshire countryside up to Uttoxeter.

Not wanting to return to the canal to pick up the Staffs Way, local field paths transported us more directly to pick it up in Colton, from where we were to follow it for the rest of the day.

Stiles were the definite theme. Unfeasible numbers of the things. Sometimes with two being put in to clear a single field boundary, and many of them just a little bit higher than a stumpy-legged person (like me) would like.

Stockwell Heath has always struck me as a very pretty place (having walked through it many times before), and today was no exception. We paused for a self-timer group-photo in front of the village pond before Sam, who was only able to join us for the first bit of the day, bade us farewell and turned right out of the village as we turned left.

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(From left: Mike, Stephen, Sam, me and Mick)

A small deviation to the planned route at Blithfield Reservoir saw us walk over the dam rather than taking the Staffs Way route which runs below it – an option that was harder underfoot but gave much better views.

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On reaching Abbots Bromley it was still too early for the pubs to refresh us, so hot cross buns were had on the benches on the little green, before we headed off for the Uttoxeter leg. The pubs didn’t miss out entirely, though; having reached the end of our day we returned to the village by car to refresh ourselves appropriately, and to find the Geocache that I had belatedly remembered was located exactly where I had been sitting earlier.

The second half of the day was just as pleasing as the first had been, as we chatted our ways along through the green landscape. Mainly green, I should say, as just as we approached Uttoxeter there were a few muddy path incidents, including this one (which wasn’t the worst of the day – the worst was one of those paths which is sandwiched in the 30 inch gap between two fences):

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Being finished as early as we were, it was effectively a half-day today, giving us plenty of time this afternoon to sort out kit and wonder how all of the stuff that fitted perfectly well in my pack last week no longer fits at all…

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