Walk completed August 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 36 -- Penkridge to Abbots Bromley -- 16 miles

Yesterday evening Bob and Pam picked me up at my B&B and took me out for a wonderful dinner at a very upscale restaurant.  I was woefully underdressed in my hiking boots, but my pants and shirt were clean.  Bob also wore his hiking pants, so we looked like we belonged together.  The food was good, the conversation better, and maybe I planted a seed for Bob and Pam to visit Yosemite and/or Zion.  Thank you very much, Bob and Pam, for a delightful evening.

I was fortunate today with the weather. A heavy downpour started about 7:00 am. At 7:30, I mapped out a new route that would avoid muddy pastures and knee-high wet grass that characterized yesterday’s walk. By the time I left the B&B at 8:45, the rain had stopped.

The guidebook’s route leaves Penkridge along the towpath of the Shropshire and Worcestershire Canal, and then after a short while turns northeast through Cannock Chase, the huge wooded hills east of Penkridge. Rather than follow that route, which I presumed would be wet and muddy, I stayed on the towpath all the way to Great Haywood. This may have added a little extra distance, but the towpath was dry, the grass was short, and I easily stepped over the standing puddles. The flat towpath made for easy walking, and I reached Great Haywood shortly after noon.

About a dozen longboats passed by – basically RVs for canals. The engines were noisy, so the boatmen (and women) could not engage in conversation other than the usual “Good morning” pleasantries. The sun stayed out all morning.

Longboat leaving canal lock
Just as I reached Great Haywood and crossed over the canal into the village, a cloudburst started. Right at the canal crossing point is a tea room, and I ducked in for lunch. The downpour continued all during lunch, and as I finished my last swallow of milk, the clouds finished their act. I stepped outside into sunshine, while the street gutters still flowed with rainwater.

For those of you who may be following along on “Where’s the Path?” my route took me north out of Great Haywood, across the A51, and continuing on Tolldish Lane northeast and then east when it turns into Moreton Lane and heads southeast. 200 yards later, a bridleway heads northeast past Moreton Barn Farm (not Moreton Farm or Morton House) and continues all the way to Newton. The track is open, clear and dry all the way, even through the pastures. From Newton, a minor road with virtually no traffic runs north to Dapple Heath and then runs east just north of Blithfield Reservoir. It intersects with the busy Uttoxeter Road about ¾ mile north of Abbots Bromley. I’m staying at the Marsh Farm on the Uttoxeter Road a mile north of Abbots Bromley, so my route was more direct than the guidebook’s route. (Of course, I missed Abbots Bromley, but my pants and boots stayed dry, and I didn’t get any blisters which wet feet often do. For anybody using this blog to research his or her LEJOG – that’s probably you, Professor Ron – this is a good wet weather alternative.)

As I was walking along north of the Blithfield Reservoir, I was serenaded again by a buzzard. I got a close look at it when it landed in a tree. It was clearly a raptor, not a vulture. I presume I was near its nest, because it dove at me several times, and once swooped along the lane from behind me, missing me by only a few feet. It’s pretty impressive having a big bird swoosh past from behind at high speed, and then continue gliding down the lane not more than 10 feet off the ground.


© 2011 Ken Klug

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