Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 23 : Uttoxeter to Dovedale

Tuesday 6th February 2007

Distance Walked: 16.3 miles
Start Time: 8:57
End Time: 15:22
Elapsed Time: 5:35
Weather: Cold and frosty, with light snow. Crisp and sunny later.
Distance walked so far: 469.5 miles

The enforced decision to cover the extra miles to Uttoxeter yesterday certainly turned out to be a blessing. The thought of having to do them in addition to today’s stint is almost too much to contemplate. When even the permanently chipper McCloy says that this section involves stomping through “endless fields”, you just know that it’s going to be monotonous.

And it’s not just that. I don’t know who touched the countryside last, but it’s a disgrace. You should see the state of some of these fields. They’re an absolute mess. If you want to know how many different varieties and textures of shit there are, then come and have a look at my boots, as I’ve been dragging most of it along with me all day.

What’s most annoying is that I’d really been looking forward to today’s walk, for today I was heading towards Dovedale, into the Peak District, and the first steps into a National Park on the route so far. What’s more, as I left Uttoxeter and crossed the River Dove into Derbyshire (briefly), I was serenaded by a light flurry of snow, to add to the crisp, frost-covered ground beneath. It was finally starting to feel like winter.

Unfortunately, it was also today that, having followed the Staffordshire Way to Rocester (pronounced “roaster”), I had my first encounter with the Limestone Way. Quite why it was decided that just when the environment gets more treacherous and confusing they should cease to provide adequate or accurate guidance from the waymarkers, I can’t say. What I can say is that whoever made that decision needs a damned good talking to. With force.

It’s bad enough plodding through endless fields, on rutted, boggy ground, without the added problem of constantly having to backtrack because either the signpost is missing or even pointing in the wrong direction completely. Maybe the Limestone Way is supposed to be a secret as, even though I was definitely mostly walking on the right path (having confirmed it on the GPS track log later), not one of the signs actually stated this until I’d virtually reached the A52, at which point everything brightened and the world was a beautiful place one again.

For there, on the horizon, was the familiar, romantic profile of Thorpe Cloud, standing like a sentinel as the gateway to Dovedale, to the Peak District and ultimately to the Pennines beyond. The pull towards it was irresistible and, though it resulted in a night at the opulent Izaak Walton Hotel rather than a more economical alternative, I convinced myself that the luxury of the evening was reward for the distance covered so far, and an impetus towards the hard days of hills yet to come.

Song of the day:

The Scientists

In my heart /
there’s a place called swampland /
Nine parts water /
One part sand


Anonymous said...

Any change that you'll break the uncomfirmed world record of 48 days?

Alan Sloman said...

Nice place the IW Hotel - I had plates & plates of afternoon tea there a few weeks ago.
Were there any cakes left?

I enjoyed your sesson with 6 Music on Sunday - did you end up where you were supposed to be on the day it went out?

Good luck Dave
Alan (I have only 17 days before i start down at Land's End now!)

DaveG said...

I wasn't aware that there was a world record? Is 48 days right? Is that for a walker?

I reckon I'll be around the 60-65 day mark.

Alan - yes, unbelievably, i was exactly where I'd predicted I'd be 10 days before - Hebden Bridge. Think I was too scruffy to be given cakes at the IW hotel!