Day 52 Hampton Loade to Holt Fleet Sunday 3 July

Distance 19.56 miles, cumulative 885.41 miles, time 8 hrs 35 mins, walking time 6 hrs 40 mins, pace 3 mph, camped The Wharf Caravan Park.
We continued along the Severn Way past hundreds of angling pegs, the majority belonging to the Birmingham Angling Association. The footpath was good and well waymarked. We had the steam railway for company until Bewdley by which point the railway and Severn Way had crossed to the east bank. We stayed in the western side and used the North Worcestershire Way into Bewdley which is a favourite spot on account of a particular cake shop

http://www.kimmylovescake.co.uk

which makes amazing chocolate brownies and a Wetherspoons – The George Hotel.

Regrettably, as we are a day behind our original plan, the cake shop was closed on a Sunday. Steve threw a hissy fit and we had a breakfast wrap and endless coffee in Wetherspoons as compensation.

For those family and friends who we gave a copy of our planned schedule, we added a day when we split the Carney Pools to Telford Day into two. Fortunately it does not alter the day we plan to finish at Land’s End which will be Saturday 23 July. Our schedule does show Friday as our last day but we had decided to split the last day, Penzance to Land’s End in two, by stopping at Treen to give us a very short last day. We will not do this now and our final day will be from Penzance to Land’s End on Saturday. We have train tickets booked on the Sunday from Penzance to Exeter.

From Bewdley we walked in to Stourport which is chalk and cheese to Bewdley. Stourport has a permanent funfair by the river and was busy. Stourport is where the River Severn is joined by a series of locks to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and from here the River is navigable to larger boats. Stourport has a large marina and the River downstream has locks to enable the pleasure craft to pass the weirs.

We continued to pass anglers, caravan sites and a horse eventing and training centre. This stretch has numerous moorings and riverside pubs which with today’s glorious weather were busy.

We reached our campsite and enjoyed the sunshine. 

Day 51 Telford to Hampton Loade Saturday 2 July

Distance 17.58 miles, cumulative 865.85 miles, time 8 hrs, walking time 6 hrs 10 mins, pace 2.8 mph, camped The Unicorn Inn campsite.
Thanks to Bal for putting us up for 2 days and running us about. We left Steve’s Dad’s and headed towards the Severn Way along the Silkin Way which is right outside Dad’s front door. The Silkin Way is a footpath and cycle way which uses a disused railway from Telford to Ironbridge and Coalport. When we visit Telford it is our usual running route but today it was our link down to the Severn Valley and Severn Way which will be our route for the next 6 days down to Bristol.

The weather was fine and the path took us past a constant series of fishing pegs owned by various angling clubs and through some very large cereal and vegetable fields each of which was one to two miles long. The path passed through Bridgnorth Golf Club and we found a nice flat spot with short grass to pitch the tent but several groups of golfers asked us politely if they could ‘play through’, whatever that means. 

It was a little unsafe as a camping pitch so we carried on but Steve again became pre-occupied with thoughts of relinquishing the burden of his rucksack having seen the electric golf carts. 

After three and a half hours we reached Bridgnorth. Steve observed that if we had been driving from Telford we would be home by now. Lynn is not convinced Steve has fully embraced the spirit of what walking JOGLE is about. 

We arrived in Bridgnorth and dived into the first tea shop we passed. There are a great many tea shops in Bridgnorth, which makes for healthy competition, and £3 cream teas – we had limitless tea and a large scone – try finding a cream tea at that price in Devon. 

We were the only customers and the proprietors had only opened the tea shop a week ago and only at weekends. It transpired they were really only trying to improve their chances of selling the premises which was a listed 18th century riverside 3 bedroom town house which could have a tea room business run from the ground floor. The owner asked if we were interested in buying it. We didn’t so no and we didn’t say yes. We enjoyed our cream tea and the owner offered to let us leave our rucksacks with him while we climbed up to the higher part of Bridgnorth to get a few supplies. Bridgnorth has a funicular railway running from the riverside up to the town, we walked. It was just as well we had left the rucksacks behind as the town was busy with Sidmouth residents and we would have been knocking them over like skittles. For blog readers who do not know what characterises Sidmouth residents, the East Devon seaside town is often referred to as ‘God’s waiting room’. Having offended a good proportion of our readers we will move swiftly on, which is what we did but only as far as the Estate Agent’s window to check the asking price of the tea shop. 

We returned to the tea shop and made a cheeky offer for the house – the owner didn’t say yes and didn’t say no. 

We walked on to Hampton Loade with the river on our left and the Severn Valley Steam Railway to our right and discussing Stamp Duty thresholds. The line was busy with steam trains which made for some good sights, sounds and smells.

We pitched and had time to enjoy the sunshine after a level and dry day of walking down the valley. 

Day 50 Ivetsey Banks(A5 near Weston under Lizard) to Telford Friday 1 July

Distance 14.76 miles, cumulative 848.27 miles, time 5 hrs, walking time 4hrs 40 mins, pace 3.2 mph, stayed with Steve’s Dad.
Steve’s Dad dropped us back to Ivetsey Bank and after a wash in the flooded field yesterday, Lynn’s new boots soon got muddy again as we followed the Monarch’s Way along green lanes, minor roads and footpaths. The Monarch’s Way follows the escape route taken by Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The scenery changed from grazing and cereal crops to more fruit, vegetables and salad crops. We watched a white cabbage picking operation crawling over the crop – picking and packing on the go.

The smells changed to strawberries and soft fruit as we passed acres of poly tunnels, far more pleasant aromas than those created by sheep which we had mostly encountered to date.

The Footpath signage had logos celebrating 50 years of public footpaths in Shropshire 1958 to 2008. Most of the footpaths looked like they had not been used since 2008. We hacked our way through the jungle and Lynn used lots of very unladylike language which Steve found quite educational. 

We passed near Weston Park which was hosting a ‘Camper Jam’ weekend so the roads nearby were full of VW camper vans of varying vintages en-route to the Park.

We passed through a couple of pretty villages including Tong and in the distance we could hear aircraft and helicopters flying into and out of RAF Cosford.

Yesterday the photo of the poppies was appreciated and appropriate given the Battle of the Somme commemorations, so we have included another photo of a field we passed today.

Tomorrow we start our journey down the Severn Way and with three weeks left it feels like we will be on the final stretch and in more familiar territory. 

Day 49 Carney Pools to Ivetsey Banks(A5 near Weston under Lizard) Thursday 30 June

Distance 21.32 miles, cumulative 833.51 miles, time 8 hrs 15 mins, walking time 7 hrs 20 mins, pace 2.9 mph, stayed with Steve’s Dad.
We got going early with the intention of trying to walk to Steve’s Dad in Telford. Ideally we had wanted to split the day into two or to have gone a little further yesterday. In hindsight, given the weather, it was as well we finished yesterday when we did but it meant a long day today. When researching the route we had not been able to find any accommodation beyond Carney Pools and nearer to Telford which was on the trail.

So with a long day ahead we joined the Trent and Mersey Canal which took us past Shugborough Hall where we left the canal and headed over Cannock Chase to join the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal to Penkridge. This stretch of canal took us under the M6 motorway.

The trail took us along bridleways and lanes, initially following the Staffordshire Way. Dropping down into one field we had to cross a small footbridge and it was a little wet reaching the bridge from yesterday’s rain, but we picked our way through. On the opposite bank the ground rose steadily so we thought it would be dry underfoot. Big mistake! We were knee deep in water for the next quarter mile. We rung our socks out and carried on but it was becoming increasingly apparent we were going to have a longer than anticipated walk to Telford and a late arrival. So after some map checking and a phone call to Steve’s Dad we decided to shorten the day get picked up and then resume the following morning having being dropped back to the route. It adds a day to our plan but gives us two days with Steve’s Dad to do some laundry and forward accommodation booking. 

On the canal to Penkridge we passed many narrowboats and at one mooring we stopped to chat to three fellas each with their own boat. They lived in their boats and moved to a new mooring every two weeks. They enjoyed the lifestyle and whilst each would go their separate ways they would often moor up together on the canal network. 

We met one other walker on the trail. Alan was walking LEJOG in three sections in aid of the National Memorial Arboretum – alansendtoendwalk.wordpress.com – Alan plans to complete the Scottish section of his walk next spring and finish in JOG on 7 May on his 70th birthday. Increasingly we are feeling like the youngsters on the trail, which is no bad thing. Lynn hopes to be doing similar things when in her sixties and seventies, which is not what Steve was exactly thinking when wading knee deep through a water meadow.

We reached our pick up point on the A5 after what on the whole had been a fine day of walking, different sights and interesting people.

Day 48 Uttoxeter to Carney Pools (near Rugeley, Staffordshire) Wednesday 29 June

Distance 13.56 miles, cumulative 812.19 miles, time 4 hrs 40 mins, walking time 4 hrs 25 mins, pace 3 mph, Camped Carney Pools.
The proprietor of the B&B was a scout leader and over breakfast he confirmed that the Staffordshire Way footpaths going south were as appalling as the ones we had ‘travelled’ the day before and he had guests the previous day walking north who had similarly commented. Given the forecast for a wet day we decided to adjust the route and stick to minor roads and good bridleways. 

So we had a wet day following country lanes through small Staffordshire villages, large arable farms and a couple of Simmental Cattle herds.

The weather stayed wet so we ploughed on with only a few short stops and reached Carney Pools by 1 o’clock.

Carney Pools is primarily a farm with some fishing lakes and campsite. We put the tent up in the rain and whilst it aired out we took shelter in the fishing lakes lodge and spent a few hours chatting to Keith the volunteer lakes warden (a pensioner who in return for free fishing did one day a week as a warden). Keith was happy to have company on a slow day, so we exchanged life histories. He was a Harley Davidson fan and although he had survived a very bad accident on his bike, which had left him with multiple steel pins and an artificial hip he still rode a Harley Sportster into his 70s.

The rain got steadily worse, the wind picked up and ended up with a full on storm which eventually abated. We returned to the tent to find it in the middle of a small lagoon, so we had to re-site it in a smaller puddle. Fortunately the sun came out and we managed to dry everything off. 

Carney Pools is right next to the Trent and Mersey Canal, River Trent, A51 and the West Coast mainline railway and near Rugeley Power Station but apart from that, is in the middle of nowhere. We dined at the nearby Wolseley Arms and were joined by Steve’s Dad and sister, Sarah which made for a pleasant evening catching up on family news.

Day 46 Ashbourne to Uttoxeter Tuesday 28 June

Distance 15.57 miles, cumulative 798.63 miles, time 7 hrs 30 mins, walking time 6 hrs 40 mins, pace 2.3 mph, B&B Meadows Guesthouse.
Lynn started the day in shiny new boots but a frustrating day soon took the shine off them.

It was a fine morning as we left Ashbourne. Ashbourne is the town which celebrates Shrove Tuesday with the whole town playing a Shrovetide football game with the uppers playing the downers. As we left Asbourne we passed the down’ards goal.

The next village we passed through, Mayfield, also had an old custom of ‘dressing’ it’s wells. We passed two of the wells each decorated with collages made of petals, leaves and seeds. One celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday and the other Beatrix Potter.

We passed through Rocester, garrisoned by the Romans and listed in the Domesday book as a wealthy manor but now it could be called JCB town as the location for the JCB digger HQ, factory and Academy. The Academy is partly housed in Arkwright’s original mill. Steve got all excited about a factory tour but it needed to be pre booked. What is it about boys and diggers?

We passed one other walker Andrew, a 61 year old Canadian from Vancouver who was born in Glasgow, was walking LEJOG. His blog is:

journeyswithandrew.com

We compared notes and experiences and wished each other well.

The day was frustrating as public footpaths in Staffordshire are poorly signed and maintained. The path had also been closed or diverted in a few places with little or no signage or alternate route provided. This made for slow and at times painful going as we ploughed through the undergrowth or struggled with route finding and detours. At one point we emerged into the rear yard of a garden centre to find the path well signed from it’s entrance but not from the field behind it. We just about retained our sense of humour, including when it started to rain an hour from our final destination of Uttoxeter. 

Our first visit to a Wetherspoons since crossing back into England helped to restore us, if not completely cure all the nettle rash.

And finally – it’s sad to see the England football team have also decided to exit Europe at least the Rugby team have faired better down under.

Day 45 Pomeroy to Ashbourne Monday 27 June

Distance 19.65 miles, cumulative 783.06 miles, time 9 hrs, walking time 6 hrs, pace 3.3 mph, Camped – Peak Gateway Leisure Park.
Bliss – a breakfast with sunshine, no rain and no midges. 

Our route followed the Tissington and High Peak Trail which is a cycle and bridleway which has been laid on the old Buxton to Ashbourne railway line. So a flat days walking and good underfoot. The sun had got it’s hat on and a good breeze made for perfect walking weather. 

The railway opened in 1899 and closed in 1963. The Peak District National Park later converted it into the trail. It is a lovely trail to walk or cycle and well worth a visit with parking areas, tea stops, pubs and campsites on the route. It connects some pretty Peak District villages and towns. 

We found a fine example of the benefits of being in the EU when beside the trail we found a dry stone hut described as:

‘A Kazun – an Istrian stone shelter is a gift from the Croatia to the UK to mark the accession of Croatia to the EU on 1 July 2013 in celebration and recognition of a shared heritage and tradition of vernacular dry stone buildings across Europe’. If the remain campaign had made more of benefits like this they may have clinched the vote. 

Lynn found some replacement boots at the second walking shop we tried in Ashbourne. They are pretty similar to her old ones but a different make (Solomon) but she is happy with the fit, materials and sole, so fingers crossed her feet like them too – and they were in the sale.

Day 45 Edale to Pomeroy Sunday 26 June

Distance 15.99 miles, cumulative 763.41 miles, time 6 hrs 15 mins, walking time 4 hrs 15 mins, pace 3 mph, Camped – Pomeroy Camping Park Farm.
Having left the PW we are now following a mixture of the Limestone Way, Pennine Bridleway, Midshires Way, Staffordshire Way and Monarch’s Way to link through to the Seven Valley Way at Ironbridge, which we will join next Friday.

It was wet overnight and raining quite heavily first thing which meant no midges so we were able to brew up and have breakfast, albeit a wet one.

Lynn remembered it was our 23rd wedding anniversary.

The weather brightened as we climbed out of Edale over Mam Tor and joined the Limestone Way. 

The route used green lanes and bridleways so we shared the trail with a few groups of off road motor bikers who all appeared to be ‘born again’.

We camped at a very nice campsite in Pomeroy, no frills but excellent new shower blocks. We whiled away the afternoon drinking tea by the tent while it dried out.

The pubs in the Peak District do seem to be very good and the Royal Oak at Standlow provided a fine evening meal and wine to celebrate our anniversary.

Day 44 Crowden to Edale Saturday 25 June

Distance 18.72 miles, cumulative 747.42 miles, time 8 hrs 45 mins, walking time 7 hrs 25 mins, pace 2.8 mph, Camped – Cooper’s Farm campsite.
Just when we thought the midges could not get any worse – they did. We skipped breakfast and just packed and got on the trail. As we climbed Bleaklow and got out into the breeze we gradually escaped them. It was a steep ascent and difficult underfoot. We crossed the A57 at the top of Snake Pass and followed the flagstones up onto Kinder Scout. 

From tiny flying pests we saw a huge flying machine at close quarters when an Emirates Airbus A380 flew directly overhead as it descended towards Manchester Airport – it made the other planes look quite small.

Kinder Scout was busy with day walkers and Duke of Edinburgh Award groups. The views were fantastic but a photo does not do them justice.

We passed Mermaid’s Pool where legend has it that if you see the mermaid you will enjoy eternal life. One man walked up to the pool every year and lived to the age of 104.

Kinder Scout is an iconic location for walkers. In 1932 it was the location of a mass trespass by ramblers and five of them were arrested. The protest and subsequent campaigning eventually led to the creation of the Peak District National Park in 1951.

Having walked along the Kinder Scout ridge we gradually descended to Edale and the final sharp drop down Jacob’s Ladder. 

We passed the sign saying we had reached the end/start of the Pennine Way which marked a significant milestone for us, as the PW provided the backbone of our route from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

We enjoyed some of it, especially the Yorkshire Dales and Northumbria but it would not be our first recommendation for a long distance trail to walk.

Edale was busy but we whiled away an hour in a cafe, as the rain came in and having passed two campsites which were full we found a campsite with space and pitched up.

We spoke to soon about how well our kit was holding up. Lynn’s left boot is slowly falling apart so over the next few days we will have to sort out replacements, hopefully in Ashbourne or Uttoxeter.

To celebrate finishing on the PW we took a selfie at the trig point on Kinder Scout. Our selfies are really getting very good now. 

Day 43 Standedge to Crowden Friday 24 June

Distance 17.31 miles, cumulative 728.70 miles, time 6 hrs 45 mins, walking time 5 hrs 40 mins, pace 3.1 mph, Camped – Crowden Caravan and Camping Club campsite.
We’re Out…….of Yorkshire and into Derbyshire and the Peak District. We had a steady climb out of Standedge and over Wessenden Moor and Black Hill. We passed the Black Moss and Swellands Reservoirs. The dam of the Swellands Reservoir burst during construction in 1810 and six people were killed when the peaty water carried a 15 ton boulder 2 miles downstream and into a mill and cottage. The miller’s wife’s body was found a further 6 miles downstream.

A tough day of climbs finished with a steep and tricky descent into Crowden. The weather was mainly dry with the odd shower.

We shared this section of the walk with a group of three lads from a scout group in Gloucester who had just completed their GCSEs. They had rested yesterday and were at Standedge when we had arrived. 

It turned out that the parents of one of the lads were also having a weeks holiday and were staying in a holiday cottage nearby. So mum and dad had come out to the site at Standedge to see their son and they took the lads into the nearby town for fish and chips. Today, dad had decided he wanted to walk with them for the second half of the day in order to spend some quality time with his son. So much to his son’s embarrassment, and to the delight of the other two lads, mum drove dad to a point halfway where the route crossed a main road. Dad joined the walk and mum was going to drive on to the campsite to pick dad up. The lads saw an opportunity and gave the tent they were carrying to mum saving them the load. 

We arrived at the campsite before the lads to find that mum had arrived and put the tent up for them, bearing in mind the last we had seen of them was when we had left them earlier in the morning with no sign of any mum and dad. 

The three lads therefore came in for some serious mickey taking from an ‘old couple’ who were able to carry and erect their own tent. The lads were suitably embarrassed and out of earshot of the mum and dad confessed to being relieved that the mum and dad would not be around to embarrass them for the remainder of their walk and to completely remove what little remaining street ‘cred’ they had left. 

Steve however, was quite taken with mum but any thoughts of asking her to transport and erect his tent were quickly extinguished by a ‘look’ from Lynn which roughly translated indicated a slow and painful death by disembowelling.

We were asked about our kit. Our kit has been doing very well. The only visible wear and tear has been some stitching starting to come apart on one of Lynn’s boots but otherwise our well used Robbens tent, Berghaus waterproofs, Rab mid layers, Montane smocks, Thermarest sleep mats and Bridgedale socks are proving very reliable. The only ‘non High Street’ stuff we have are down sleeping bags and gillets which are made to order by a company called PHD Mountain Software based in Manchester. They are very warm, very light and pack down into tiny stuff sacks. http://www.phdesigns.co.uk

For shorts, trousers and base layers we use cheap dry fit clothes from Mountain Warehouse,Uniqlo, Matalan and shops like Sports Direct.

Lynn wears Berghaus fabric boots and a Karrimor 65 litre rucksack and Steve wears Scarpa fabric boots and a 70 litre Montane rucksack. We use a tiny collapsable gas stove which uses standard butane/propane mix canisters with an an old set of camping aluminium saucepans which seem better than anything we have seen currently available. All the kit means we each carry between 10 and 12 kilos depending on food and water requirements. We have green tea and instant porridge for breakfast and lunches are usually a malt loaf or oat crackers and cheese. We always carry biscuits and try to buy fruit for each day. We carry one dehydrated main meal for emergencies in the form of foil bags, you just add hot or cold water. For this walk we have a well travelled spag bol – mmm… yummy can’t wait for an emergency. We usually find a pub for our evening meal. The campsite we are on today is four miles from the nearest pub but the site wardens make pizzas to order each evening, having taken advance orders and organised staggered time slots for the campers. The pizzas were delicious and were even delivered to the tent.