LEJOG27: Abbots Bromley to Thorpe

Friday morning started out well as I got a lift to my official starting point in the centre of the village, rather than having to walk for at least half-an-hour. Although it’s physically only a drop in the ocean compared with all the other miles mentally it’s a real drag.

Then, just as I was doing up my gaiters, I bumped into David, whoose B&B was right next to where I was standing. I think we were both releaved to have another companion on such a long day-it definitely smoothes out many of the downs of solo walking as well as picking increasing ones pace.

Most of the day consisted of ‘classic’ Staffordshire Way scenery.

Although I started out well my map reading ultimately didnt improve matters by incorrectly navigating us into additional fields of long wet grass, which we then had to backtrack on to regain our route. It continued to sporadically drizzle throughout the day, but my tactic of putting my socked feet in plastic bags seemed to be keeping the squelching at bay.

We had our sandwiches in Rocester, a small town with an extremely popular fish and chip shop which was closed while it changed hands. We knew it was popular because in the 30 minutes we sat in the town square at least fifteen people must have strolled up expecting to get a chip butty, seen the closed sign and then walked away shaking their head in disappontment. I was also extremely popular and recieved three phone calls in that time, making me feel a little like a teenage school girl constantly glued to a handset.

In the afternoon the landscape started improving the closer we got to the peaks. There were little hills all folded into each other, real forests and dry stone walls which disected the land into little irregular mosaic pieces. It felt more rural than agricultural. At one point we passed a guy in full camo gear sinisterly squatting next to a wooded stream while hunched over a gun. I’m glad David mentioned that he was probably poaching as otherwise my imgination would have run away with me and I’d have got paranoid about alien insurgency or something similar.

On one of the last stretches of the day we got trapped in a wooded valley, unable to find the right path out while it pissed with rain around us and the mud made every step a potential slip. If I had been on my own I’d have been a bit dispairing at this point, maybe even to the point of having a little moan at the moon. However together we were made of stronger stuff, and David eventually steered us out of the wood, over a bared wire fence and up a small hill to get our barings and back on the route. It worked, and soon we were rounding another hill to find the beautiful green undulating Derbyshire Dales spread out below us. This was more like it, this was why I’d just pushed on through 20+ miles of countryside I wouldn’t have been bothered to look out of a train window at. I got a happy warm feeling inside, and simultaneously pockets of sunshine opened up around us.

We parted on a country lane before the end of our mutual journeys.

David had a B&B just outside of Thorpe and I was staying at a massive hostel just before. It has been a good effort and I was very grateful for his company. As I made my way to the hostel I marvelled at the landscape, crinkly and craggy in places with lushous green grass and real hills each with their own personality. The hostel was fantastic from the outside, literally a massive national trust stately home, but inside it lacked anything which justified the exorbitant price.

However, this didn’t matter much to me as I was out cold in my bunk by about 7:30. Bliss.

Sent from my iPhone

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