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January 2000

2 January

Beryl and I went out with Stafford Ramblers. Ron was leading the walk which started at Longdon Green and went over to Gentleshaw Common. Ron's walks have a certain reputation; they usually take in part of the Heart of England Way, involve a good hour's drive and are incredibly wet. Today he met the first condition but the drive was quite short and, more importantly, the day was super for the time of year. It was also a good day for nattering as we had not seen anyone since before Christmas.

I like this area. There are a host of footpaths around Longdon and it is easy to keep finding something new. I had walked much of today's route before but there was still plenty of interest. It is not a particularly hilly area but there are wide views of Cannock Chase and we could also see Lichfield Cathedral at times.

Ron is funny though. He has his way of doing things and it is not easy to shake him from this. The group usually has a short refreshment break after lunch but it was getting later and later with no sign of a stop. We'd all given up on it when we got back close to Longdon. That was when Ron decided to stop. The rest of us could sense darkness falling and did not want to stop. I passed this on to Ron. He had to speak to everyone before he agreed to go on. I reckon that if one person had half fancied a break he would have stopped.

The walk was in the programme as 10.5 miles. Ron wouldn't have it that it was any longer even though everyone's legs told them differently. I measured it when I got home; top side of 12 miles. Ron rang me a couple of days later and asked how long I thought it was. Even he conceded 11.7 miles; you don't often get such an admission out of him.

9 January

I'm leading a walk for the Ramblers at the end of the month and so I needed to prewalk it. I did much of the walk a couple of years ago but it needed shortening a little and I wanted to refresh my memory. Bob had a free day and came with me.

The walk starts near Ashbourne and takes in the Dove downstream of there. The Ramblers have walked the Staffordshire side two or three times but I've not done the Derbyshire side before with them. So I hope it is a new area. Having side that, it is not a very inspiring walk. Lots of mud (and worse) but it is redeemed by a couple of view points of Dovedale. mainly that lovely southern edge of the White Peak.

16 January

Beryl and I with Janet out with the Ramblers. We nearly didn't go; it was on the Chase and, where the Chase is concerned, it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt. It's sad because it is very beautiful but it's lost its excitement because I've walked there so often.

Start from Marquis Drive and walk over to Beaudesert and back. Beryl did some walks in this area for her school's activity day last year and I'd helped with the preparation. We set out on part of the same track. We had a good lunch spot, at least those of us who climbed to the top of the bank. A very wide panorama (enhanced by two power stations, Burton and Rugeley)

A fairly quiet day but pleasant weather and good company.

23 January

More prewalking; just Beryl and me.

This is going to be the A walk for the Ramblers dinner ramble next month. This means that I didn't have a choice over location (Swynnerton) and I was going to do most of it on paths I know well.

For all that we had a really good time. The weather was spot on and Beryl couldn't remember these paths although she has been there before so she particularly enjoyed it. I like the mile or so over Tittensor Chase and the interest was increased by watching orienteers at work. I experimented with the route around Beech. It was probably all in vain as it made the walk too long; we did 10 miles and I can't go much above 8 on the day.

30 January

This was the live version of the walk which I sorted with Bob. There were 23 on the walk which must be a record for one of mine and made for slow going over the stiles. It could have been a real disaster because it was also raining as we drove over but it stopped just as we arrived at the starting point in Clifton.

No one else could remember walking there and the boggier bits of the walk brought out the masochist in most of those present; they didn't object unduly!

The best bit of the walk was definitely the final stretch across the grounds of Snelston Hall and the brilliant view off Margery Bower. We had that lovely, soft evening sunlight for those which was a delight.


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