LEJOG25: Shifnal to Penkridge

Despite my intention to keep these catch up posts short I still seem to be spending ages over them! Partly I want to keep the record for myself what happened, but I also want to write something that is in some way entertaining and engaging. However, timing is everything and you’re not going to be very interested to read something if it’s a couple of weeks old.

Wednesdy was the day the weather started to turn. It was intermittantly drizzly and I started the day dressed head to toe in goretex. It might be a bit sweaty but it’s better than having to drop everything at the first sign of rain and quickly wip everything on.

Clare walked with me for the first half hour or so despite it being a rather boring road walk, but peeled off as soon as the route crossed the M54. That seemed like a good sign to return back to the comfort and chaos of real life.

I walked on, and the expected rain finally came. Oh well, the sun couldn’t last for ever. Walking in the rain is an intrinsic part of covering a country like the UK so I wasent resentful, more relieved that it wasn’t a complete downpore.

The route was following the Staffordshire way, a relatively uninspiring long-distance path whose purpose appeared to be to pass through as many different practically identical fields as possible in an effort to hypotize you into thinking you were traveling through somewhere worthwhile. I think the most interesting bit was when I got squeezed between a barbed wire fence and a massive patch of overgrown nettles that had taken over the path. It added an element of jeapardy to a sleepwalk of a route.

I had an mini-disaster at lunch. I was standing at the bar of a pub waiting to pay and went to tuck the back of my fandabedoze merini wool t-shirt into my trousers. The material was wet from the effort of carrying the rucksuc and my hands went straight through the material as if it were damp kitchen paper. I was angry, not least because the t-shirt was ridiculously expensive and yet was falling apart after less than a month of wear.

However, in the afternoon something interesting (in a positive sense) did happen. I started to see in the distance a similarly waterproof wrapped figure on the path a field or so in front. Their rucksac cover was bright orange so they were easily noticeable from quite a way away. I knew it had to be somebody doing the same walk as me because there was no other reason for somebody to be on such a boring path in the pissing rain other. I did my sums and realized that this could actually be the fabled David that Gaz had told me about. When I finally caught up and we got face to face I found out that it was.

We spent the rest of the day together and had a good chat comparing and contrasting our experiences. I found out that David was a regular marathon runner, which actually made me feel less bad about my perceived relative lack of ability by contextualising it. Somebody used to running 26 miles was naturally going to tackle simply walking half that at quite a pace. I also learnt that he had started running when older me, which was encouraging as running a marathon is one of those things (like walking the Penine way) which I’ve always thought I’d like to do but felt that my utter lack of ability if experience would realistically preclude me from.

We walked at quite a pace, and David told me that it’s naturally for two people to run or walk faster when together because they sub-consciously encourage and support each other. This made sense, but it did mean that by the end if the day I was starting to get a bit of pain in my knee. I think it was the effort of walking for 8 days without a break catching up with me, everybody I met was joking about how tired I looked. It wasn’t just to do with my appearance, i was noticeable getting tireder and tireder earlier and earlier in the day. I was looking forward to getting my weekly rest days back. The experiment of having more shorter days and no rests hadnt really worked, I obviously mentally and physically needed the breaks.

We parted at penkridge where David had a room above a pub while i had to walk for at least another mile before getting to my campsite. I was in a bit if pain now and was wincing with each step as I pushed on through. There was no respite when I finally got to the Campsite‎ either-I now had a never ending access road leading down to an exposed and windy field surrounded by artificial fishing ponds. At the back of my mind I was constantly thinking about the fact I had no food and would have to walk back this distance to get to a pub. Luckily somebody at the site opened the little shop and let me buy and heat up a chillin and rice snack pot-it was minging but it was also hot and stodgy, just what I needed. Another mini-emergency arose when I realized that I was missing a tent peg, but this led me to ask a neighbouring tent if I could borrow one of theirs, which not only solved my problem but also led to sharing a beer and a chat with Jay, Jo and Paul, who were really friendly and also very impressed with my quest, again providing a much needed boost to my morale. I went back to my tent early to finish my blog, which again ended in abit of disaster when it deleted itself. Not the best end to a difficult day, but at least I’d had pleasant company along the way.

Sent from my iPhone

1 Response to “LEJOG25: Shifnal to Penkridge”

  1. 1 Gayle May 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Back from Scotland (where the one word description of our walk was ‘wet’, but we had a fantastic time regardless (and there were 4 sunny days)) and I’m catching up with your Blog – so actually I am interested in something that’s 2 weeks old!

    Sorry to hear about the disaster with your Icebreaker. Feel bad about recommending it now! Not that it’s any comfort to you, but both Mick & I have had ours for quite some time now and they’re giving no hint of wear. Hope that someone’s getting in touch with Icebreaker on your behalf.

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