Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 22 : Penkridge to Uttoxeter

Monday 5th February 2007

Distance Walked: 26.9 miles
Start Time: 7:53
End Time: 16:57
Elapsed Time: 9:04
Weather: Overcast. Brief rain shower. Then sunny.
Distance walked so far: 453.2 miles

I thought I was in fairly good shape before setting out on this trip. I’d staggered to the end of three marathons in the last three years, and had tried to maintain an active lifestyle, but the past three weeks have taken me to another level completely. I feel fitter, leaner and stronger than I ever have in my life. Posing in my pants in front of the mirror has never been so rewarding. And this was a day when the enhanced fitness came to the rescue.

I should’ve known that things were going too well, but the morning stroll out of Penkridge, alongside the canal and under the thundering M6 was really rather pleasant. It was hard to believe at times that this was such a heavily built up area, especially when the Staffordshire Way leads into Cannock Chase which is such a bizarre contrast to the surroundings that it feels like a Scottish Highlands theme park, complete with heather, wild deer and the first rain shower I’d experienced in two weeks.

A quick ramble through the grounds of Shugborough Park, and then east along the Trent and Mersey Canal, running parallel with the River Trent itself. This feels like a milestone, for I live by the Trent and, indeed, much of my training for this walk had been done running up and down its banks. Then it’s across the fields again, through Colton, and past Blithfield Reservoir. I’m ahead of schedule, heading for Abbot’s Bromely, home of the bizarre Horn Dance, and anticipating a relaxing afternoon.

When you approach a town and see a woman walking down the main street with a cow on a lead you know you’re in for a good night, so I saunter into the centre believing that my walking is done for the day and looking forward to working my way through the indecent number of pubs that are located in this tiny village. Unfortunately, for the first time during the walk, all the accommodation that I try is fully booked. Oh dear. I eat a pork pie in a state of semi-distress and realise that the only option is to press on to Uttoxeter, a further six miles away. Having been unable to pick up an OS Map for this section, I’m reliant on signposts and GPS, but thankfully the Staffordshire Way doesn’t let me down and I reach my goal as dusk descends, with feet crying out for respite. Perhaps some form of forward planning would help.

Song of the day:

Aimee Mann
“Wise Up”

It’s not what you thought /
When you first began it /
You got what you want /
Now you can hardly stand it, though /
By now you know /
It’s not going to stop /
It’s not going to stop /
It’s not going to stop /
‘Til you wise up

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