Day 37 - Sedgemere to Forest of Arden
Various changes to the plan today. Firstly, I discovered yesterday that the place I was due to stay tonight had terrible reviews. What I thought was a peaceful conference centre was actually a rowdy party venue, and what I thought was a comfortable camping pod didn’t sound as appealing when the forecast was 30 degrees. So yesterday I booked a very much smarter place for the night, so that I’d know I’d get a decent night’s sleep. The plan also was that Philip would walk with me today, but I didn’t want to inflict the heat on him as well as me. So instead it was a solo walk this morning, with David driving me back to where I’d finished walking a couple of days ago, and setting off as early as we could.
After all the anxiety about the heat, the skies were cloudy all day, and in fact there were some drops of rain. But it was muggy and still quite oppressive, I was very glad to be on the road early. The saga of my various injuries continues. My leg is a little improved, but still periodically sore. So that needs looking after with painkillers and stretches. My old blister is not completely healed, so that foot needs to be thoroughly strapped and covered. And then the heat a couple of days ago has led to some blisters on the tops of my toes, all of which have to be covered with Compeed and toe guards. It takes ages to get my feet all sorted before setting off. But the good news is that I can now wear my boots again. Which is a relief, as my other shoes have developed holes in the heels. Not significant yet in terms of wearing them, but it shows how long I’ve had to use them on rugged terrain.
David dropped me off and drove home. Although I’ll see him again in a couple of days, it was difficult saying goodbye after just getting used to seeing each other again.
Lots of Heart of England Way today. The path was clear through the fields, with various livestock entertaining me. A number of sheep took a lively interest in my rucksack and poles. I later discovered that they had been hand reared and that accounted for their weirdly friendly behaviour. They were followed by two splendidly behorned rams.
When doing training walks at home, I have periodically been caught out by the HS2 works. Routes have been closed, sometimes with burly security guards preventing even pedestrians from entering. I realised yesterday that I was getting near to the Midlands HS2 area, and just north of Balsall Common I ran across it. The road was closed, and the workman I spoke to had no idea whether the footpath running from the road was also shut. I didn’t want to risk a long backtrack, so rerouted, sadly onto the road as opposed to the footpath. Fortunately it was the only time I encountered this scarring of the landscape today.
About half way through this shortish walk I passed through Berkswell. As the backdrop to the young secondary school students who were gathered on the green I saw a coffee shop. I’ve learnt never to let a coffee shop go unfrequented, so I popped in. What a great place Berkswell Store and Stove is. It’s a grade 2 listed building that used to be a post office. Amy came for a walk here a while ago, and realised that the area could do with a shop and cafe, so she opened at Christmas. A lovely coffee, a lovely welcome, and very exciting wattle and daub exposed walls.
Just before Meriden the path led to an open view, the first I’ve seen for a while. I could see across fields to Birmingham. As I was restrapping my feet I had a good chat to a father and daughter couple who paused to stop. They let me know that a field I’d had to miss out because of my rerouting had a bull in it. The father was chased across the field last week. The walking gods had been smiling on me today.
The rest of the walk was on quiet roads, leading to my extremely swanky hotel. Philip met me there with some of the weight from my rucksack that he’d kindly transported for me, as his last stint of being my back up for the walk, I’ll next see him at the end of September. So it’s been a day of farewells today, and they’re very hard. I spent the afternoon feeling alone, and diverting myself by going through some of the planning and admin for the next couple of weeks. And had a sneaky dip in the pool too.
Another shortish day tomorrow, with the company of my brother Jim and nephew Ned. I’m looking forward to seeing them. Hopefully it will stay cool and the blisters will subside.
Distance travelled: 8.5 miles
Total ascent: 660 feet
Calories burned: 1050
Local tipple - Corona extra
Dinner at Arden Forest hotel - tasty
Spiced cauliflower and hummus tacos
Video of the day
New song of the day
Little Bit - Erika de Casier
A Portuguese born Danish singer songwriter. Her voice is ethereal, I like the contrast between that and the solid drum track.