Tuesday, 20 November 2007

IP Address.04 – a week at Ingestre Pavilion: Part the Fourth

Which involves Mrs von Neustadt getting down and dirty - ooer indeed, missus - some stiles which lack style, and a windmill which is perfectly 'armless. A Daughter of the Nobility makes a rendezvous with her Doting Parents at a Railway Station on the West Coast Main Line.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

One of the main things today was collecting Martha from Stafford station, she having left Reading and its festival some hours earlier. Before this, Deb and I took Daisy for a somewhat more substantial walk, round the village of Bradley, that I'd downloaded from the Country Walking site. This walk was called Moats and Maidens and should have been 10.5km.

The walk was nice in many ways but a touch disappointing in others. The silly, self-inflicted bit was that we were short of time, which isn't good when you're meeting a train. It was also quite heavy going in a couple of ways:

  • Undermaintained stiles and gates, some hard to negotiate
  • Places where unavoidable stiles were overgrown with spiky, stingy, hurty stuff to the extent that it would have laughable were it not so ouchable
  • Routes diverted or unwelcoming - very obvious places where people had come over all NIMBY about the path, having first built their BY over the said path. Hmmm.
  • Because of stuff like this the map and description were sometimes wrong, or difficult to follow. You do expect this to an extent - things change! - but this had it more than usual.
  • Scary moo moos making life a touch too "interesting" once or twice. Funnier now than it was at the time.
  • A very unpleasant bit of walking up the side of an area growing strawberries. This wasn't field, path, verge nor quite a linear rubbish-dump but some weird amalgam of them all. Rough and tricky to walk on and difficult to believe that anyone could see it as a legitimate public footpath. Oh well.
  • I messed up the navigation once we'd realized we stood to be very late for Martha. We had to cut across country and make a much shorter loop than the plan, but like a twit I chose the wrong exit point and we had to relocate and go back. Oops.
  • And of course that means it wasn't anything like 10.5km, probably more like 6 or 7.
  • A ridiculous place where the map didn't work, a bridge seemed to perhaps be missing, and you simply couldn't continue without following the only possible path through a nasty flooded dip containing the Official Mud Reserves for the entire county of Staffordshire. We weren't really equipped for this. I got through it relatively dryshod till the last couple of steps when it all got a bit unstructured: Deb's more practical approach was just to charge through the mud barefoot which seemed yuk at the time but did involve her having drier feet for the rest of the walk. I'm like yeah, woo, babay.

I think, to cut a long story short (and Heaven knows I should sometimes) that we were suffering from this not being the Cotswolds! There, the tourist economy is clearly much bigger, the stiles are new, shiny and exquisite, and any nettle or bramble that dares show its face within five metres of the path is offered counselling and a fresh start. (Probably in Staffordshire, come to think of it. Aha - it all makes sense now...)

On the other hand this was, griping apart, a very pleasant landscape in which to be wandering. There were:

  • A gorgeous path up through a cornfield. Pre-war cinematic: really very nice. See photo at top.
  • Some lovely open semi-upland bits in the vicinity of ...
  • ... a very impressive ruined windmill on Butter Hill. This is wonderful as it is, but when you are staying in a Landmark you cannot help having Certain Thoughts.
  • Nice ambly bits with little woody/hedgy field-edge places, tiny plank bridges over ditches and the like, all feeling very small-scale and intricate.
  • Bradley's extremely pretty village centre where we started and finished the walk, right by the exquisite old church, just along from the exquisite old pub, and overlooking the exquisite old parish hall car park which would, if there's any justice, have topped the Readers' Poll in Exquisite Old Parish Hall Car Parks Monthly.

So although this walk certainly had its tricky moments it was far from a disaster and was generally enjoyable. Daisy had a dogologically excellent time too, being blissfully immune to many of the concerns expressed above, and preferring to concentrate on the dashing-about element of the walk, barking threateningly at groups of large and mooey animals, and other items thrillingly high on her somewhat specialized agenda.

After that it was a bit of a rush to get into Stafford and collect poor Martha, who ended up having to wait a while for us. Tsk bad parenting. But soon all was well and we were back on our way to the Pavilion.

I've got no further notes or photos for that day so I assume we just messed around at home. But it was great to have the Infanta Marfs added to the team and completing the family count; and it had been good to get Daisy out for a proper(ish) walk.

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