Tag Archives: Long Distance Walks

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – ALMOST INTO YORKSHIRE.

P1000294 (2)I couldn’t resist a decent hill day as the weather remained fine. All change next week. ‘Head east old man’ was my mantra as I sped along the M65. Everyone else was going west to Blackpool or the Lakes. Boulsworth Hill my objective. So far so good, but the last chapter of Mark Sutcliffe’s Lancashire Cicerone guide would have had me parking above Wycoller. If there ever was a honeypot then Wycoller deserves that title. A secluded village of agricultural and hand loom workers in the C16th to C18th. Along came power looms in the C19th in nearby Lancashire towns and the population moved out. By 1896 the majority of people had moved away from the village, and it was virtually deserted. But a renaissance occurred in the mid C20th, the area was incorporated into a Country Park and people started moving back into the village renovating the properties. I well remember Longridge acquaintances of mine telling me of their plans for one of the houses in the 70s. I suspect you would have needed a bottomless purse to go ahead.  For more information look at Wycoller (abandonedcommunities.co.uk)

The village is a now a conservation area and is closed to outside traffic. The car park on Trawden Road is the one suggested for this walk. Today, Easter Sunday I suspect it would be probably full by the time I arrived and you have to pay. So I decided to park up in Trawden village on the line of the walk. This worked well, makes the walk more balanced and avoids backtracking at the end. I will give details at the end of the post.

Out of the car I was soon winding my way up a lane into the hills, slightly more directly than Mark’s route. Footpaths then led past isolated farms. I came across two unusual stone stiles with a circular centre and  exits into three separate fields, difficult to describe and difficult to photo, but I have never seen anything like them before. On down an ancient track into Wycoller.

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Early fields with the amorphous Boulsworth on the horizon. 

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Early crows’ nests in the bare trees. A walled enclosure like a pinfold. 

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P1000214A good start to the day, although by now it was after noon. The expected crowds were milling around in the hamlet. Crossing and recrossing the series of bridges over the stream. For the record …P1000218P1000217P1000234

The information centre/café appeared closed, but some enterprising folk were running a mobile coffee shop, it was too early for me. This walk gives you the opportunity to explore Wycoller if you haven’t been before. I had a look around the remains of the hall and was reminded of the time when I slept in the fireplace Inglenook whilst on a two-day trip around the Pendle Way. At the time I was unaware of the phantom horse ghost story associated with the hall.  If I had known I may have slept elsewhere. P1000224P1000223

You have had enough historical homework on the area so far, and it is time to move on. There are ways either side of the stream, but the important junction is well signed leaving the Pendle Way and the Bronte Way to take a concessionary path alonside Turnhole Clough. (the Bronte connection being that Wycoller Hall may have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor Jane Eyre’s residence with Rochester after the fire at Thornfield. The Bronte Way is a worthwhile short/long distance way)

Families were enjoying the country park with Easter picnics whilst high above the sci-fi Atom, one of Lancashire’s panopticons, looked down on us. P1000227P1000229

I don’t think I have been in Turnhole Clough before and I enjoy strolling through the trees above the lively beck. This sort of concessionary path should be more commonplace, I can think of several areas crying out for access. It just needs the local authority and landowners to come to some agreement, maybe pushed by interested rambling groups. P1000238

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Anyhow, eventually the Clough brings me out onto open moorland. Above on the skyline is a row of rounded gritstone boulders which look interesting. I have a hill to climb today, so I’m not keen to add extra height wandering off route to them. There is a path up towards them but when I later search on the UK database there is no mention of them being climbed upon. I now regret coming so close without visiting, all I have are some telephoto pictures. What are they 10, 20 or even 30ft high, it is difficult to tell? Another day. P1000243P1000250P1000251

The book states you come out at the bailey bridge and cross it, but the concessionary path actually brings you back onto the Pennine Bridleway/Bronte Way above the bridge.  Now we head across open moorland on this ancient flagged mule track.

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Perfect wild camp site in the upper Turnhole Clough. 

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Which way? 

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Up and down until the barn where a signed path heads upwards to Boulsworth. This is a relatively new way so tends to just head upwards, none of the characteristics of worn winding historic routes. All is well until a fence is crossed and then the brutal 1000ft climb rears up steeply in front of you. I’m too old for this game but plod on at a slow pace being glad I stopped for an energising bite to eat back in the clough. Sometime later I breasted the ridge at some prominent gritstone boulders, Little Chair stones. Onwards past more boulders, The Weather Stones, I give them names in my imagination or am I hallucinating? Any suggestions?

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Start of the ascent. 

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The steepening. 

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Forever onwards to the Little Chairs. 

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Up at last to the trig point at 518 m, Lad Law. There was nobody else here. Panoramic views over Lancashire and Yorkshire but now a little hazy. Am I actually in Yorkshire, well not quite but a stone’s throw away paths head deep into Bronte Country to the east. It all looks very bleak.

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Lad Law trig 518 m.

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A hazy distant Pendle over the Coldwell Reservoirs.

Turning back into Lancashire I head off downhill past the prominent Abbot Stone, too steep to contemplate bouldering.

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The Abbot.

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Boggy ground has me back on the Bridleway where after a few yards a stile takes me into fields and alongside Gilford Clough. Farther over to the right is Lumb Spout waterfall, a hidden gem. Maybe Mark missed a trick there, worth a diversion if you know where it is.

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Gilford Clough

I’m content to walk down the lane past an assortment of farmhouses, cottages, hen houses, barking dogs and allotments back into Trawden. A village where the residents run the library, pub, shop and community centre.

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Trawden FC?

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Free cooperative seeds. 

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Is they Islay? 

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Yes it is Spring but not summer.

***

My parking was on Lanehouse Lane just past the bowling green area alongside an old cotton mill where there is adequate room close to where the route enters and exits the lane. SD916380 

I was glad of this choice for it meant after a long tiring descent I was saved the climb back over to Wycoller completed  earlier. The map makes sense.

Captureoulsworth hill

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – THE UPPER WYRES.

DSC03324Down on the River Wyre in St. Michael’s a tragic drama is transpiring, a 45-year-old local lady, Nicola Bulley, has gone missing whilst walking her dog by the river. You will have seen it on the national news, the trauma her family are going through as the days pass, without resolution, doesn’t bear thinking about.

***

The River Wyre comes out of the Bowland Hills above Abbeystead, the Tarnbrook Wyre and the Marshaw Wyre join forces there and head off into the Fylde to reach the sea at Knott End/Fleetwood. A dramatic journey. I walked the whole of the Wyre Way in 2014, can’t believe it is so long ago. Today I’m parked up in a lay-by alongside the Marshaw Wyre at Tower Lodge as suggested by Walk 11 in Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone guide book, exploring these two upper Wyres.

I’ve just driven through the ‘Trough’ from Dunsop Bridge, a way through the hills beloved of NW Lancashire cyclists. There were plenty this morning, the forecast being good with sunshine and little wind. In fact the last time I came this way was on my cycle way back in 2014, I remember it being a tough ride in this direction. I would need an electric bike I think for such exploits now. I have previously walked a version of this route in reverse, again in 2014.

I thought the lay-by might have been full by the time I turned up at 11am, but there were only a couple of cars. Boots on and immediately a steady uphill begins. By chance, I’m heading into The Duke Of Westminster’s territory once more. I was disparaging about grouse moors in my recent post on Clougha Pike, so today I start optimistically with only healthy thoughts of the great outdoors. I can’t believe it the first WW stone marker, of which there were many better examples along the way, depicts a rifle and a grouse. Condescending bastards.

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Putting that aside I march over the hill to views of the Clougha Pike/Ward’s Stone ridge above the Tarnbrook Wyre. I’m glad I’m not going up there today – it’s a tough long walk, although the Duke’s new motorway had made it easier in parts. We used to go up there to climb/boulder on Thorn Crag before it was open access, often resulting in being forcibly ejected. The CRoW act of 2000, despite its limitations, has been a gentle step forward. I cross the infant Tarnbrook Wyre without much thought to its journey from up on Ward’s Stone.DSC03285

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The last time I came through Tarnbrook, an old farming settlement at the end of the road, I got talking to an elderly gent, born and bred there and the last remaining permanent resident. (his family checked up with him every day). I doubt be is still here as the properties all seem to be in the process of modernisation – for rich incomers or holiday lets? A lot of history possibly lost.

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Turning my back to the hills I make my way across multiple fields westwards. Yes the stiles are rickety and not easy to spot in the low light. A few adjustments are needed after my phone GPS mapping is consulted, in the past I would have been much more careful with map and compass.

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A friendlier waymarker.

Abbeystead is reached without too much trouble and the Tarnbrook Wyre, (header photo) now more sizeable is crossed at Stoops Bridge, a popular parking area. The hamlet is the centre of the Duke’s Abbeystead estate with the mock Elizabethan estate offices, cottages and old stables.

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Gated entrance to the Duke’s Abbeystead House.

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My path takes off from the road at the far end of the village, taking me high above the Reservoir and then down below the dam and a footbridge over the Wyre. The reservoir is silting up and there is a constant cascade of water over the beautifully curved dam. All very dramatic.

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The concessionary path alongside the water is in a dreadful state. Too many feet on the muddy terrain. There is an alternative higher path to the south via Marl House and Hawthornthwaite, longer but more sustainable.  It takes an age of slippery sliding to reach dry land again near the Stoops Bridge parking.DSC03347DSC03350DSC03356DSC03349

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The Tarnbrook meets the Marshaw Wyre.

Then the parkland of Abbeystead House, the raison d’être of the area, is traversed with tantalising views of the enormous property. Lots of fields and stiles often high above the Marshaw Wyre. I must have fallen asleep and come out onto the road well off route. My map shows it all.

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The Marshaw Wyre is then followed closely back up the Trough road to those well known pines alongside the river. Tower Lodge was a welcome sight. I was getting tired and have measured my route as 8.5 miles as opposed to Mark’s 7.25. Some of that was me getting lost.

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I have reservations about this walk, yes stunning scenery in parts but lots of field stiles to negotiate, needing careful navigation. The section to the south of Abbeystead Reservoir is horrendous, muddy and awkward. I think the route would be more balanced starting in Abbeystead, with an option to take the difficult reservoir 1.5 mile loop. The road up Marshaw was tedious at the end of the day, it would be so much more enjoyable early in a walk that gradually gained height and then brought you back anticlockwise down to Abbeystead.DSC03377

***

CaptureWyre Way

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – the darker side.

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I’m being unkind there, the darker side of the Pennines is actually in the White Rose county. But it is often gloomy as you drive down through these eastern Lancashire valleys with the prominent Peel Tower watching over you.

Walk 28, Holcombe Moor from Ramsbottom promised “A non-too-demanding walk from the endearingly quirky of Ramsbottom up onto the moors and back in time for coffee and cake – or a pint – in one of many inviting bars and cafés” That turned out to be a little short on the detail, both good and bad, but we are out for adventure and discovery after all.

Ramsbottom, forget the corny jokes, is, or was a solid Lancashire Mill town. Wikipedia as usual has more than enough information. It is now an apparently thriving, on the evidence of all the people there today, shopping destination. Its strength is the number of independent businesses both basic and frivolous. Parking was not easy on a busy Saturday. The station, one of the main attractions, with sometimes steam hauled trains up the valley on the East Lancs Railway was just around the corner. Only diesels today but come later and there will be Santa Specials.DSC02246DSC02245DSC02251DSC02253

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Relics of the past.

I’ll gloss over the first stretch through a modern industrial landscape. But all of a sudden one is out into open fields with the River Irwell alongside. I’d been here before on the  Irwell Sculpture Trail which at the time seemed very short of sculptures. Today I was noticing things new like the ‘stone hedge’ bordering a field, the nod to industrial heritage on the site of Cross End Mill, (a C19th dye, bleach and subsequent textile print works) the little allotments and a modern day communal food bank.

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Capture Cross End

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The path deposited me in the isolated hamlet of Strongstry, a couple of back to back streets which must have provided housing for mill workers in the past. There seemed to be a sense of community with book banks and bird feeding stations. A nice place to live.

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Now for the interesting and unexpected bit, underplayed in the book. A scramble up alongside a lively stream in a hidden, rocky, tree lined gorge. Pure delight for 3/4 of a mile and 500 feet of climbing. Well done the National Trust who care for this land.

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Out the top and across the road the character of the walk changes as open moorland is reached with increasing views over all those industrial valleys. The arrival at the top was greeted with a plethora of signs warning of the dangers of the MOD firing range, with more regulations than you could throw a bomb at. There were no red flags or explosions today, so I could happily trip along the ridge of Holcombe Moor.

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The main point of interest was a stone monument erected in 1902 on the substantial base of an ancient Pilgrim Cross. The inscriptions told of the way to Whalley Abbey in the C12th.

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From there I could have made a beeline to the distant Peel Tower over Harcles Hill, but the going looked boggy and besides I was following Mark’s footsteps. His way was no less boggy but had views down into the steep sided valley of Red Brook south of Bull Hill. I’m not certain I took the right track, there were so many, but eventually I homed in on Pell Tower after an arduous half hour or so, again underplayed in the guide. It was a lot taller than I had remembered, 128ft in fact, and today as always the destination of many family groups coming up the short way from Holcombe. Built in 1851 with public subscription to mark gratitude to locally born Sir Robert Peel for repealing the complicated Corn Laws which were causing starvation in the agricultural workers. Political intrigue was as complicated then as it is today. I think of him more for his reform of the criminal justice system and the establishment of Police Constables, ‘peelers’.

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A murky tower in the distance.

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Arduous conditions – welcome to winter walking.

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Bull Hill – I’ve never knowingly visited.

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Tried an arty shot with the ‘towers’ of Manchester in the background. It didn’t come off.

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Look at the size of the figures.

I found a good stone to sit on overlooking the valley and opened my lunch box containing my lovingly handcrafted egg and tomato salad sandwich. Placing it on the stone behind me whilst I poured some hot tea. Reaching for the anticipated sandwich it had disappeared. I had to look twice, but it just wasn’t there. The culprit was a silent poodle who must have crept up behind me, there he was finishing off my lunch higher up the hill. I suspect his owner was hiding out of shame.

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There’s a dog up there…     I’m on my way down.

Rested but not fed I started to make my way down steep tracks, past a Millennium Bench, and lanes through Holcombe. A mixture of old stone cottages and extravagant new properties, the former predominating the lower I went. My intention was to stop off for a pint in the Shoulder of Mutton pub and phone the plastic bag man, living nearby, for him to join me in what was once one of our haunts after climbing. But alas the place was boarded up , landlord needed. It is not a good time for pubs. So down steeply, and I mean steeply, into Ramsbottom.DSC02340DSC02341DSC02343

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A Lowry’esque church – Holcombe.

DSC02351The streets were still busy. I was disappointed to see also that the Grant Arms in the centre had closed, I stayed there on the Irwell Sculpture Trail, it was pretty grotty at the time I must admit. It is now a financial investment office. You can see why traditional pubs suffer as quite a few small bars were scattered around, offering a good range of beers often home-brewed, cocktails and a bright environment. They were all full of happy people.DSC02357DSC02355

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Maybe here lies the answer…

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…more likely here in a modern bar.

I was pleased to see that the welcoming Chocolate Café across the way was still in business, it was always a haven on shopping trips. All things chocolate.DSC02358

Anyhow, a change of plan, and we were soon sat in The Garsdale on the edge of Bury enjoying a beer and chewing the fat as they say in these parts.

A superb varied walk full of interest but a little more demanding than Mark suggests, or am I getting old? Surely not. Thanks for sticking with me.

CaptureRamsbottom.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – A regular Ribble ramble.

A walk I must have done dozens of times. I was looking for a short flattish walk to test out my knee. Walk 22 in the Cicerone guidebook fitted the bill, and I was anticipating the woods full of bluebells. It turned out to be a day of bright sunshine but with a violent wind out of the east.

The Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green was busy with the sunny weekend weather. I didn’t use their car park but found a spot in the village near the war memorial. Lambing Clough Lane took me down past the C17th Trough House (they have a fetish for weighing scales) to the new Dinckley bridge over the River Ribble. The river was running low with the exposed pebbly beaches accessible.

This stretch seemed to be popular with dog walkers today – but doesn’t everyone own a dog or two now. Entering Marles Wood the path threads between the trees often awkwardly over the exposed roots. The bluebells were only just starting, but there was a good display of  Wood Anemones and the Lesser Celandines were hanging on. The new beech leaves were the greenest of greens.

At Sales Wheel the river was completely placid, compare with conditions when running high – SALES WHEEL – THE RIBBLE POST-FLOOD.

One of the problems with this circuit is the kilometre of road walking from Salesbury Hall to Ribchester bridge. The road however was quiet and my attention was directed to the wayside plants. The blooms of the Blackthorn are fading to be replaced by the emerging Hawthorn. Yellow Dandelions and white Dead Nettles covered the verges. Soon I was crossing the elegant bridge which has seen some recent damage from vehicles.

Onwards past the farm and into the riverside woods where flood debris is always piled up, but thankfully someone has been collecting the plastics. Unfortunately the right of way leaves the river, what a shame – if only access could have been obtained all the way back to Dinckley Bridge. I have in the past persisted in trespassing alongside the river but remember it being difficult. On this day in 1932, hundreds of folk marched on the famous Kinder Scout protest, and we are approaching a time when we may need to resist the Tory’s crackdown on our access to land.

I’ve always found navigating the fields here a bit of a challenge and Mark’s  directions didn’t really help. The bluebells in the woods at Starling Brook compensated for my previous disappointment. Wild garlic was also showing well, I must pick some for a delicious meal with poached egg.

There are good views of Pendle and the Ribble Valley from these hills. With luck, I arrived at the bridge over Dean Brook, the stream I followed to find Raven Lumb Falls last April.

A steep climb led back to Lambing Clough Lane and into Hurst Green.

As an aside on the way home I spotted another of those evocative slate poems next to St. John’s Church.  Poignant thoughts.

Anyone wanting to follow this walk could shorten it by parking at Marles Wood and avoid the loop into Hurst Green.

*****

LAST DAY ON THE TWO SAINTS WAY.

Cannock to Lichfield.      7 miles.

  My B&B host gives me a lift back to the Ring Circle Fort, and I’m on my way, downhill to Lichfield.  One was supposed to be able to see the cathedral from up here, but low cloud prevented that. There was good walking up on Gentleshaw Common and then old tracks through woods to come out onto quiet lanes to sleepy Chorley.

Back into the fields I came to Farewell Hall and the Church of St. Bartholomew built on the site of a priory.

For the next two miles I walked along the ancient Cross In Hand Lane, so named from the wooden cross pilgrims would hold as they approached St Chad’s Well. This lane was a joy to walk, in places hewn out between sandstone banks and in others with mature hedges. A scattering of farms were passed along the way, and at the bottom of the last hill a cave reputedly used by Medieval candle sellers to pilgrims.

Medieval cave?

Lichfield was entered alongside the old Pinfold, which has been recently restored.

The house belonging to Erasmus Darwin, the Physician and naturalist and Charle’s grandfather, is now a museum in the shadow of the cathedral. The man himself was looking out of a window. There are many fine houses in Lichfield which is worth a longer visit.

At last the three unique towers of Lichfield Cathedral were seen as I approached the magnificent entrance. A Saxon church was built here to house the bones of St Chad, to be replaced by a Norman Cathedral, the present Gothic structure dates from the 13th and 14th centuries.  One walks down the beautifully vaulted nave, through the chancel and there in front of you is the shrine of St. Chad.

Behind in the Lady Chapel are the famous Herkenrode stained-glass windows rescued from Belgium. St. Chads Head Chapel was closed to the public.

Two relics related to St Chad were on display —  The Lichfield Angel,  a beautiful limestone carving from the chest that contained his bones. The 8th century St. Chad Gospels, from which St Chads cross emblem was derived.

Leaving the Cathedral I notice the statue of St Chad by local sculptor Peter Walker  recently installed in the grounds. He looks a kindly man. The south door is every bit as good as the main one,

I then wander alongside the lake, Stowe Pool originally a 12th century millpond and fishery, to reach St Chad’s Church and Well and my final interpretation board!  When St. Chad arrived in Lichfield, 669, he baptised converts at a local spring and founded a monastery. He was buried here in 672 but his bones moved the Cathedral when it was built in 700. The present day church is mainly from the 14th century with many more recent modifications. Nearby is the Well which has been popular as a pilgrimage place, at one time surrounded by arched walls but now by a simple wooden structure. I’m not sure that the water is very pure.

My journey had come to an end, I have learnt a lot and experienced a good mixture of rural and urban scenery. The route was well thought out in that respect. The churches have been inspiring and whatever your religious views they are beautiful buildings and how well we preserve the past in Britain. The problem of churches being closed occurs anywhere nowadays. The guide book is well written and informative, the instructions are clear. There was no shortage of accommodation (putting my Crewe faux pas aside) or dining possibilities, although Covid precautions are still affecting the latter. As usual, I met relatively few people walking any distance, and only four on The Two Saints Way. I covered 90 miles from Chester to Lichfield, but I have to say I was relieved to know I could now rest my heel for a few days. There has been constant background pain all week, which at times distracted me from my surroundings — I was beginning to feel like a real pilgrim towards the end and possibly should have dipped my foot in St. Chads Well.

*****

DAY SEVEN ON THE TWO SAINTS WAY.

  Milford (Stafford) to Cannock.        10 miles.

  You have done well to follow me this far. I have done well to get this far. There are no churches to bore you with today!

  I have a dilemma — an extra and not particularly inspiring 4 miles from Stafford to reach Cannock Chase which I’ve done before on other occasions. A bus goes to Milford every hour. Dilemma solved, I take the pilgrim’s bus.

  This section over Cannock Chase brings back memories of when I completed it in reverse with my mate Mel 20 years ago. I’ve just returned from his delayed wake, he died in the middle of lockdown, April 2020. We were finishing The Heart of England Way back then, having walked from Lichfield to Stafford. As was our custom before travelling to our respective homes, we would have a few beers and a meal. We were in some dingy curry house in Stafford, Mel ordered a Chicken Jalfrezi, a fairly hot dish. When it arrived there must have been 30 whole chillis in it, I don’t know if there was any chicken. Mel managed a good three quarters of his meal. He was sweating profusely when the waiter came for the dishes, seeing the remains of his meal the waiter turned to Mel and said “so you don’t like chillies?”  This was met by much guffawing from Mel, he was still laughing about it years later. Great times.

   There are tracks all over the common at Milford, it must have been a nightmare during busy times in lockdown. Today it was mainly dog walkers parking up. Once in the trees the tracks can become confusing, I took the first compass bearing of the trip to get me into the Sherbrook Valley. There are numerous named LDWs coming through here.  As the clouds were down on the tops  I thought the valley route would be more attractive and so it turned out. Hands in pockets type walking, whistling a tune.

Having dallied with The Staffordshire Way, I joined The Heart of England Way, which led me to a visitor centre where I enjoyed a coffee and cheese slice. This was timed well, as it had started to rain. The car parks were full to overflowing, and yet the area is so vast that people soon thin out.

  The area around the visitor centre was RAF Hednesford in WW2 and has an interesting history worth reading. There are remains of huts scattered around and a Burma Star Memorial.  

   This area is popular with mountain bikers and there are several demanding loops heading into the trees and hills. The railway is crossed by an elaborate footbridge, which I don’t think was here the last time. More mountain  bikers were parked up just off the main road.

The main track I was using undulates through the forest and gradually climbs up to pass by an Iron Age Castle Ring Fort. This is the highest point on Cannock Chase at 801ft. The bracken growth at this time of year tends to hide the features, and the views weren’t good today.

There is a pub just down the road, but as was the case of many, it was closed and looking unkempt. I set off to walk the lanes but came across a pub that was open, The Rag. A pint and crisps were welcome and there happened to be a bus stop almost outside which would get me to my B and B on the edge of Cannock.  The bus driver was surprised to get a passenger from this out of the way place.  It was soup and sandwiches in my room tonight.

 

*****

DAY SIX ON THE TWO SAINTS WAY.

Stone to Stafford.      11 miles.

*****

  I enjoy a leisurely breakfast, this should be a short day. Another gel pad is added to my right heel, I’m beginning to walk on high heels.

It didn’t take me long to get back onto the way at St. Saviour’s churchyard in Aston. In the porch of the church I noticed a cockerel mounted above the door. Its interesting history was noted..

Behind hedges and walls across the lane is Aston Hall, now a home for retired priests. It was here in 1839 that the bones of St. Chad were found, having been hidden at the time of  the Reformation. They are now strangely in Birmingham Cathedral rather than the more obvious Lichfield. A lady dog walking told me how she discovered many of the local paths around here during lockdown and had noticed the TSW markers. I enjoyed a long stretch through fields with open atmospheric skies, just what you need to put a spring in your step in the morning.

I  then entered a watery nature reserve. A man birdwatching was eager to tell me of a large bull blocking the path at the next stile. He had taken evasive action and clambered along the banks of the stream, he was in no hurry to return. Forewarned, I proceeded carefully and sure enough the bull was lying there with his herd of cows. I never know which breeds are allowed in fields with public footpaths, and I probably wouldst recognise them anyhow. A bull is a bull whichever breed and this was a large one. I couldn’t see any obvious escape route, so I stood and watched for a while before tiptoeing cautiously past against my better judgment. I’m alive to tell the tale.

Burston village was across the canal, a few cottages surrounding a millpond, delightful. Behind and strangely adjoined to the last cottage was a little chapel, St. Rufin’s. (he of the legend)  It is thought there has been a church in this vicinity visited by pilgrims since the Middle Ages.