LEJOG Day 28 – Ashbourne to Youlgreave 17.57 miles. Cumulative 515.40 miles

A relaxing evening at Callow Top Farm, a site we would definitely return to. We made use of the sofas in the large games room, rather than spending an evening cooped up in the tent. We were the only ones using it.

A cool cloudy day today for our walk to Youlgreave.

We will be using the ‘Alternative Pennine Way’ as the basis for our walk over the next 18 days. Steve found the route in a now obsolete guidebook, let’s hope the ‘obsolete’ doesn’t refer to the paths too. The route passes through the Pennines at a lower altitude than the Pennine Way, which we used for JOGLE and will take us to the Scottish Border.

Today’s route leaves Ashbourne on the Tissington Trail, A bridleway which runs along the former train line from Ashbourne to Buxton. The line closed in 1963. We made good progress following this for nineteen kilometres, all slightly uphill before leaving it at Harrington Signal Box. The path is very much like the Tarka trail with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

We continue to see a steady stream of HGVs hauling Calcium Carbonate on the roads around us. The landscape and industry is very much influenced by the Peak District limestone. Calcium Carbonate is used by the food, pharmaceutical and construction materials industry. Even the granola bars we ate during the morning contained it.

The remainder of the route followed an off road cycle route and lanes to Middleton, then a riverside path to Youlgreave. The village is a steep climb up from the river.

After a lunch stop, with a friendly blackbird, a short walk took us to our campsite, Hopping Farm.

JOGLE Day 27 – Uttoxeter to Ashbourne 14.58 miles. Cumulative 497.83 miles

A mostly cloudy, cool day but more importantly still dry.

Today is the first repeat point to point of JOGLE 2016, although we follow a different route and use different accommodation.

We followed the Staffordshire Way out of Uttoxeter, until crossing the county border into Derbyshire, county number eight. We then followed cycle paths and minor roads to the outskirts of Ashbourne.

On the way we have views of the massive JCB factory which we walked very close to on JOGLE 2016 and we pass the former Roston Airfield, used between 1916 & 1918 as a Home Defence landing ground.

The JCB factory

Near Ashbourne a footpath over a golf course takes us to the town. Unusually for golf courses the footpath is not well marked, so we seek assistance from some golfers who are playing in a local derby match, Uttoxeter versus Ashbourne. Ashbourne are one up.

Steve decided he rather likes the idea of a hobby where you can carry your equipment on a trolley, especially when there are some nicely mown, flat camping pitches to hand and sand pits for Lynn to play in, not to mention the bar and restaurant on site.

An easy undulating day of walking, we are able to enjoy the views towards the Peak District, rather than our footing and climbing stiles for a change.

After re supply in Ashbourne we leave on the Tissington Trail via the Ashbourne tunnel and arrive at the busy campsite.

Just us…
….and a load of rabbits.

LEJOG Day 26 – Alrewas to Uttoxeter 19.14 miles. Cumulative 483.25 miles

Lovely to catch up with friends Oz and Margaret over tea and scones followed by a delicious dinner & desert. A cooked breakfast this morning set us up for another day of walking. Thank you again for your hospitality.

A cloudy start to the day but less windy, making it feel a bit warmer. The sun made an appearance late morning.

We set out along the National Forest Way, a mixture of forest and farmland, before moving to Staffordshire ‘public footpaths’.

The fields are much smaller now which meant climbing a lot more stiles and the grass was long in a lot of places which made it hard going at times, but manageable.

Then we reach the field of horrors. First a very wonky stile which Lynn navigated only to be surrounded by frisky bullocks. Steve is half way over the stile when he suddenly falls back into the first field, landing on his back and grabbing his leg. Lynn thinks he’s injured so grabs the fence to climb back over the stile and gets an electric shock. Steve turns out to be OK, he had a shock on his leg which caused the fall. Once Lynn realised Steve wasn’t hurt she thought Steve’s fall very comical and laughed most of the way to Uttoxeter. When we had both negotiated the stile were trailed by the bullocks at close quarters until they thought it would be amusing to get ahead of us and block our exit stile from the field. Fortunately they are easily shouted away.

After we had left the field

Soon after we find a much needed tea stop in Abbots Bromley. From here we pick up the Staffordshire Way which we follow to Uttoxeter. The path is well signed and much better underfoot.We had a quick chat with two guys walking the path southbound who did warn the signage wasn’t always good, we will find out tomorrow.

We make a mandatory hot chocolate stop at the Uttoxeter Wetherspoons before heading to tonight’s accommodation at the Premier Inn.

JOGLE Day 25 – Drayton Manor – Alrewas 18.57 miles. Cumulative 464.11

Another bright, chilly start with a mix of sunshine and cloud throughout the day.

Our route initially follows the Heart of England Way, through the pretty village of Drayton Bassett and soon after we see signs of HS2 construction – boarded up houses, road closures and later tree planting to mitigate those lost. There are plans to plant 7 million trees in total, they have planted 700,000 to date.

Some of the tree planting

Our route crosses the HS2 route several times, but to our relief we are not diverted. The sheer scale of the HS2 construction is brought home to us.

We stop at the cathedral city of Lichfield, the birth place of Dr Johnson, famous English writer (neither of us had heard of him – shameful!). We are both stopped in our tracks as we round a corner to be confronted by the spectacular front elevation of the cathedral, a real ‘wow’ moment. It is magnificent and contains a statue of King Charles II (of the Monarchs Way), he donated funds to repair the cathedral after the civil war.

After leaving Lichfield we leave The Heart of England Way and follow a cycle path, then something labelled a footpath but which resembled an obstacle course, overgrown from above and below. Hopefully not the sign of things to come in Staffordshire.

We finally join the Trent and Mersey canal after recrossing HS2 works, for our final leg to the lovely village of Alrewas, where we are spending the night with friends Oz & Margaret.

LEJOG Day 24 – Birmingham to Drayton Manor 15.43 miles . Cumulative 445.54

Another dry day with a cool wind, but pleasant in the sun.

From our city centre hotel, we immediately access the Grand Union Canal. Initially we are surrounded by high rise buildings and some of them are built directly over the canal. In places there is scaffolding, overhanging the canal, with no road access, so presumably delivered and erected from a barge.

After passing below spaghetti junction, we switch to the Birmingham and Fazely Canal, which was built to link Birmingham to Coventry. The surroundings change to a mix of industrial and housing, before we enter the ‘proper’ countryside and we leave Warwickshire for Staffordshire, our seventh county.

We pass by the picturesque Kingsbury Water Park, teeming with birds, where we have a stop in the sunshine before heading to our campsite at Drayton Manor Park, adjacent to the Theme Park and Thomas Land (as in Thomas the Tank Engine).

On arrival at the campsite we were greeted by Sandra, who wasn’t expecting us. We had booked for tomorrow! Fortunately, there is plenty of space, but this does prompt us to double check our other bookings.

Steve is in the dog house for getting the booking wrong so has not been allowed to visit the theme park . He is now sulking. It’s going to be a long evening.

LEJOG Day 23 Solihull to Birmingham 10.59 miles Cumulative 430.11 miles

A great start to the day on two fronts. Straight out of the hotel and into Wetherspoons for hot chocolates. But, best of all, meeting up with two of Steve’s Solihull based cousins Tina and Chris. We don’t meet up very often so it was a real treat to catch up. Fantastic to see you both.

A fresh but dry day as we left Solihull and re joined the Grand Union Canal which took us all the way into Birmingham. Not the most inspiring of walks as this section of the canal network is not popular with leisure boats and it passes through industrialised areas so is quite mucky in places. However, the graffiti is quite colourful.

We hopped off the canal a little earlier than originally intended and walked through central Birmingham. Having been walking in rural areas for so many days the noise, traffic and sheer number of people came as a bit of a shock. We walked through New Street train station to the chanting of Milwall FC supporters on their way to St.Andrew’s for the game against The Blues. Birmingham won 2-1……oh no. Milwall score from a penalty in the 98th minute! 2 all draw. Steve, a half hearted Villa supporter was a bit happier now, as Villa also drew away to Leicester.

Being a native Brummie, Steve assumed translation duties and Lynn acted up being the country bumpkin in the big city, which mostly consists of saying ‘I’m glad we don’t live here’. There was much evidence of Birmingham getting spruced up to host the Commonwealth Games in 96 days time. Cousins Tina and Chris had both managed to get tickets in the ballot and are now basketball and rhythmic gymnastics fans.

A leisurely restaurant lunch and a bit of supplies shopping in the city centre and another night of luxury in a hotel room. Back to the tent tomorrow.

JOGLE Day 22 – Alcester to Solihull 21.13 miles. Cumulative 419.52 miles

A cloudy start with a cold wind, but it warmed up nicely when the sun came out after lunch.

We continued along the Heart of England Way, better signed today. We passed through several plantations, which are part of ‘Heart of England Forest’, a charity working to reverse deforestation, mainly in South Warwickshire.

We spot several deer this morning, Steve sees more than Lynn, even without his glasses on. Lynn doesn’t have the heart to tell him one is a log, the other a piece of farm machinery.

After a morning tea and cake stop in Henley-in-Arden, we have one final climb before reaching the canal network which we will be using over the next three days, before rejoining the Heart of England Way.

We initially followed the Stratford-on-Avon canal, before joining the Grand Union Canal for our walk to Solihull, our only climb was up a flight of five locks at Knowle. As usual there were many colourful barges to keep our interest. It was particularly good to see ‘Butternut’, which we had seen transformed from a lifeboat on ‘George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces’.

We left the GU canal to reach our accommodation, the Premier Inn Solihull.

Correction

In blog post 21 of the 21 April 2022 we listed the places in the U.K. where broad beans are cultivated. The list was incorrect and we now understand that broad beans are grown in many places throughout the country including a garden in Sidmouth, Devon. We apologise for this error and for any distress caused.

The ‘Sidmouth’ Broad Bean

LEJOG Day 21 – Chipping Campden to Alcester 20.75 miles. Cumulative 398.39

A very comfortable nights sleep at the Bantom Tea Rooms, which has now taken number one spot, in the B & B’s chart.

Breakfast wasn’t until 0830 and then we got talking to a couple about to start a 10 day walk south, trying out the ladies new hips, so it was 0945 before we set off.

Another sunny day and warmer than yesterday. We followed the Heart of England Way all day.

We passed the site of ‘The Battle of Mickleton Tunnel’, in short 3,000 men fighting in a tunnel; and ‘The Belgium Soldier’, the site of a World War I hospital used by Belgian soldiers, with a memorial to one who died there carved into a tree.

Just after the village of Mickleton, we passed from Gloucestershire into Warwickshire, county number six. The main differences are the Cotswold stone houses are replaced by Tudor houses and more importantly the footpaths are less well signed and maintained.

We walked through numerous fields of broad beans, which we had also spotted over the last few days. After a little research, (in case anyone is interested), we discovered Gloucestershire is one of the four areas in the UK where they are widely (or broadly) grown. If appears they are also grown in Warwickshire.

Broad Beans!

We also passed the disused airfield of Long Marston, used by the RAF as a training base in the Second World War. Now a very large building site for 3500 new homes.

Our afternoon walk takes us into more populated areas and finally to our campsite just outside Alcester, a bargain at £10.00 for the night.

Alcester