Sunday, 28 September 2008
The phone rang "Hello! Peter here! I've arranged for the press photographer to meet us at the Pump House at 3pm, is that ok?" I gulped, and quickly set the calculator whirring in my head. Bewdley to Worcester, 20 miles at approx. 3 miles an hour, with extra time for brief stops and getting lost, meant leaving at 7.30 am. "Fine" I said, breezily, "I'll see you there!"
Oh, it was so hot, sticky and unbearably humid today, I couldn't wait to get down to the river. To spur myself on, I earmarked a "blue cup" on the map, to treat myself to a large orange juice with plenty of ice, and what passed the time was meeting a retired policeman, full of local knowledge and stories of last year's floods. In the pub garden, it was hard to believe a year ago I'd have been 3 foot under water.
Was it the heat and fatigue that had made me imagine the haunting distance sounds of a steam train? Or was it all the nostalgic thoughts of yesterday? No, as I reached the river, there up above was the "Severn Valley Railway" chugging back and forth between Ardley and Bewdley. I had to take a look, not least because there might be the prospect of an Ice Cream. Sadly, it was already getting late and the shop was closed. As the last train to Bewdley pulled up to the platform, it was calling out to me "Come on Carol, you're tired, hungry, and it's only 5 miles, I'll get you there in a jiffy"
Now, can you imagine the powers of restraint I needed not to jump on board?
Saturday, 27 September 2008
Dumping the rucksack in Penkridge I made my way to Pattingham by train and bus. With an hour to spare in Wolverhampton, while "Curry's" were obligingly charging up the camera for me, armed with a town trail map I explored. And was pleasantly surprised. Wolverhampton is like one of many post industrial towns, making the best of their heritage
For the first time in the history of the Lejog/Jogle I found getting lost actually worked to my advantage! Following the Shropshire Union Canal, watching the barges chugging slowly up and down the canal, I started to muse about how our whole transport system had completely changed, for the worse really, in the last 50 years. While Beeching was ripping up train tracks, canals were drained, and tram lines removed, arteries of motorway were threading throughout the land, and the age of high speed travel arrived along with jumbo jets and Concord. Deep in thought, I found myself in the middle of a housing estate, and on asking for directions, was guided to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal all the way into Penkridge.
So back to the Transport Manifesto. It seemed to me that in the name of progress we'd actually gone backwards. All because we've lost our sense of time. Continuously seeking ways and means of getting ourselves, and goods from A to B faster. If only the time element was taken away, we could return to the days of transportation by foot, bycycle, train, boat or barge.
But it would take a brave Transport Minister to radically tackle today's problem of pollution, overcrowded roads, and a confusing and inadequate railway system. I reckon whoever is in charge of National Express should be appointed. What a fantastically efficient way of travel. How else can you travel from London To Inverness (return) for £2?
And so all the new Transport Minister has to do is make us all go on compulsory "Canal Bank Holidays" Why? To get us all to de-stress and chill us out to the level where we can accept a slower pace of life. I've never been on a canal boat holiday, but it seems you've got to learn the art of travelling slowly and waiting patiently at all those lock changes.
And so, after a day of sunshine and "bon homie" along the tow path, I spent the evening in the "Littleton Arms" with Kim and her husband, good food, wine and lively conversation. Perfect!
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Monday, 15 September 2008
Or maybe not. The next morning dawned with drizzly rain as we set off along the last stretch of the "Tissington Trail" towards Ashbourne. Circumnavigating Ashbourne, by the third "I think we've been down this road before" experiences, we were confidently giving directions to the locals, never mind the passing tourists looking for Uttoxeter race course.
Fed up with all this "which way" confusion, we decided the best option was to find a road, any road, that would take us to Uttoxeter- our destination. Happening across a farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere, we knocked on the door. It looked like no-one was home, until through a window we saw this old crone in nylon overalls, circa 1950's, (the overalls, not the crone) of about 104 heaving herself out of her chair. Three years later she eventually managed to open the door. Now, we didn't quite get what she croaked in answer to "Where is Uttoxeter?" but she pointed wildly in a southerly direction, and that was good enough for us. Where there's a farm, there has to be a road. Unfortunately it was the A515 into town. And even when we got there, the next problem was how to get to Penkridge? The bus driver at the bus station obviously hadn't chosen local Geography GCSE, as he hadn't a clue, but fortunately a passenger on the bus had. According to her, if we got a bus to Stafford, we could then get a train to Penkridge. But not before we had to kill time waiting for the bus in the greasiest of spoon cafe's where, lingering over a stewed cup of tea, we had time to admire how the proprietess dealt swiftly and efficiently with the local "Riff Raff" Any attempt by them to loiter in the caf and they were sharply booted out.
And so it was after a long, long, day we finally arrived at the "Quality Inn" in the middle of a wedding reception. Too tired to venture further than the bar, we joined the wake of the wedding party and the bar staff around the TV watching Wimbledon Highlights. The highlight of our day was a pedometer reading of 20 miles walked. 2,800 calories used which = eat, drink and be merry-Hurrah!
Saturday, 13 September 2008
After a lunchtime and coffee encounter with a longdistance lorry driver who without any reluctance unfortunately showed his injured ankles(?!), and Carol tried to persuade him how much he needed to join a WH group (to no avail sadly), we had a pleasant afternoon's walk along to Tissington and its famous Hall; a 'stunning Jacobean manor house' - a lovely spot to which I must return with husband Neil sometime, not least for the delicious cream tea which to our delight, awaited us when we stopped off for a break. Tissington village is a lovely spot and has one of the Peak's renowned Well Dressing festivals, usually in May each year.
From there it was a short hop to Fenny Bentley, strung out along the main Ashbourne to Buxton road, but thankfully the comfy looking B+B where Carol was meeting Sheila was high above it in a really peaceful spot. We parted there and I made my way back to the main road for the bus back to Parsley Hay, hoping I had done my bit for WHI and Carol this year. Will be back for more (and to make sure Carol and Keith do the 'missing' Hope to Bakewell bit or thereabouts!)
Back over to you Carol...
Thursday, 4 September 2008
In the spirit of it can only get better, it did. A totally different scene emerged the next morning. Leaving from the more prosperous leafy south side of town (in the sunshine) was more Harrogate than Halifax. Imposing Victorian mansions bordering vast green parks paved my way towards Huddersfield.
There's something quite exhilarating about standing on the brow of a hill looking down over Huddersfield and being able to see the far side of town, knowing where you're heading. To the canal, that's where, and to any long distance walker the prospect of walking alongside a canal is a welcome relief...for about the first 5 miles, then, it gets boring. Two days later you come across the next one, and the excitement starts all over again...
And so I wended my way to Holmfirth. Somewhere I'd specifically chosen to get to. Not because I'm a huge fan of "Last of the Summer Wine" but I figured the location of an incredibly long running and boring series must have something about it. Disappointingly not. It wasn't just mediocre, it was dire. While waiting for Jane, my next host, to arrive, I attempted to walk the steep hill to "Norah Batty's House" Halfway there I thought "What is the point?"
I just didn't get it. How could a "comedy" about three men, who never seem to get any older, still be going for over 30 years?
And so with a sigh, I made my way back down the hill.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
In a supreme effort to avoid hills (difficult in the Pennine region) I chose to follow the River Aire out of Skipton. Following a river is easy, trying to negotiate a miriad of "ways" was definitely not. From Keighley to Haworth there was "The Worth Valley way", "The Bronte Way", "The Howarth Way", "The Railway Children Way"...confused and disorientated I could have been on the "Jenny Agutter Way" for all I knew, but somehow I stumbled out of the undergrowth onto the road which led up a very, very, steep hill to Howarth. Did I need to take it? No, I didn't. Not only did I find a flat river option but also, as luck would have it, a lady dog walker to guide me up to the main road into Halifax.
Why no photo's? Well, with a borrowed old phone of Alice's. I took the pictures but have no way of getting them out. Hopefully, eventually...where there's a will there's a way.