Walk completed August 28, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 37 -- Abbots Bromley to Ellastone -- 12 miles

It was a dark and stormy night. As dawn broke, the darkness abated, but the storm did not. Yet the intrepid explorer valiantly set off to the north, struggling through ever deeper snowdrifts while wind gusts threatened to blow him off his feet.

OK, so I exaggerated about the snowdrifts. And the wind gusts were caused by vehicles swooshing by me on the heavily trafficked B road connecting Abbots Bromley to Uttoxeter. The only access to the Staffordshire Way from Marsh Farm B&B is by walking one mile south on the busy B road to Abbots Bromley or walking two miles north on the B road to join a low-traffic C road which connects to the Staffordshire Way. I chose north.

Broken directional sign; overgrown stile
That was probably a good decision, because after I connected to the Saffordshire Way, my way was impeded by chest-high wet grass. Of all the footpaths I’ve walked in England, the Staffordshire Way is the least maintained. With a few exceptions, the parts I’ve walked on the past few days were overgrown with grass, crops, stinging nettles and other plants I can’t identify. Many stiles were in disrepair, and many were so overgrown as to prohibit access.

I’ve been told that the farmers are supposed to maintain the stiles and gates, as well as keep the rights of way clear, and in return the county pays them some sort of stipend. Perhaps the county reneged on its payments, or perhaps farmers find it too expensive to keep their part of the bargain. Whatever the reason, one would do well to avoid the Staffordshire Way. Fortunately, tomorrow I join the Limestone Way, and hope that it is properly maintained.

Shopping carts in creek
The Staffordshire Way brushes by the town of Uttoxeter, which is apparently best known for its horse racecourse. In keeping with the image the farmers have given to the Staffordshire Way, the town has contributed shopping carts to the local creek. I’m not very impressed by Staffordshire; maybe I should return to Much Wenlock.

Anthony and Bridget
Due to today’s heavy rain, including lightning and thunder, people were outside only if they had to be. I think the total would be three. That would be me, Bridget and Anthony. You all know why I had to be outside. Bridget and Anthony were moving ewes and lambs up to the local school grounds. The pupils have been raising the lambs as a school project, and parents’ day is coming when the lambs will be displayed and sent to market. Some of the lambs may even find their way into the school’s dining room. The children are learning how to be farmers; I hope their curriculum includes responsible footpath maintenance.

© 2011 Ken Klug


  1. ....and the fun continues....snow drift in the middle of summer, what happened to global warming?!? At least you're keeping cool. Hang in there.

  2. Hi Ken it was great to meet you yesterday, sorry you had some bad experiences in staffordshire. Hope the weather improves and you meet some more people during your long walk.