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On Saturday 12 January 22 members walked from the The Swan in the small Staffordshire village of Whiston, near Penkridge. The early light rain had cleared and there was no flooding although it was generally muddy underfoot. The 5-mile low-level circuit followed field paths and quiet lanes, including part of the Staffordshire Way, to return us to The Swan for a good lunch. Thank you to Keith for an enjoyable walk.
On Saturday 16 February 35 members enjoyed a 5 mile walk in bright sunshine. After pre-ordering our meals at the Bull’s Head in Shenstone we set off, with Janet and John Clews leading, alongside Black Brook. Passing Shenstone Pumping Station with its truncated chimney, we followed the southerly direction of Ryknild Street through Footherley, where we stopped for a coffee break at our half-way point. There were some field paths, quiet lanes and pavements and if it was a little soft underfoot in places, our boots were pretty clean at the end of the walk. We had a good lunch at the Bull and came out afterwards to find the clouds had thickened and it had turned cooler.
After driving through heavy rain the skies cleared as 17 walkers met at Kenilworth Castle car park on Saturday 9 March. David Allabarton led us over parkland and fields with no stiles or hills. We found some shelter from the strong westerly wind for our coffee stop and after crossing the Pleasance, the site of a 15th century royal pleasure palace, we were rewarded by a stunning view of Kenilworth Castle’s red sandstone ruins on our return journey. The group then enjoyed a hearty lunch at ‘The Clarendon’.
On Saturday 13 April, thirty walkers met at the Swan Inn, Fradley Junction for an easy but satisfying 5 mile walk, led by Christine Adamson. We had some bright sunshine which was welcome against the cold wind and it was dry underfoot as there had been no recent rain. Fradley is at the junction of the Coventry Canal, which links into the south-east waterways, and the Trent and Mersey Canal. There were original Trent and Mersey Canal mile-posts dated 1819 on the first part of our route and we stopped for an early coffee break at Alrewas Cricket pitch. After passing the Victorian Church with its slim spire in Fradley village we joined the Coventry canal for our return to the Swan where we were joined by some non-walkers for lunch.
On Saturday 11 May Peter Turner led nine other walkers on a 5 mile route around Chorley and Farewell. Numbers were lower than normal as many of the usual walkers had returned from a walking holiday only the day before. The walk was through fields and along quiet lanes with just over 892 feet of total ascent. The weather was mainly sunny until our coffee break at Farewell Church and then we had a few spots of rain. We enjoyed lunch at the Barley Mow in Chorley, where we had pre-ordered our meals.
After a week or two of very mixed weather, Saturday 22 June was warm and sunny for our walk around Sandwell Valley Park. 18 walkers met at the Malt Shovel on the A4014 and used the underpass to access the Park. The landscape was very varied with riverside walking, lakes, woodland and a couple of motorway bridges. We couldn’t spot the bull in the field at the farm and there were no parakeets to be seen on the wood carving trail but on the plus side the paths were dry and the weather was perfect. Many thanks to Vivian and John Fairbank for leading us on the 6 mile circuit.
On Saturday 20 July, instead of the thunderstorms which had been in the forecast earlier, we had sunny periods and 21°, with just a little light drizzle at the end. Twelve walkers were ably led by Lilian and Roger from Hanbury Hall to walk just over 6 miles on the Hanbury Circuit route. The paths through NT cultivated land were very wide and clear and the fields elsewhere had a dry margin. As we walked along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal we admired the Lock Keeper’s garden in full bloom on both sides of the water. There was an easy route up to Hanbury church, which had been beautifully decorated inside and out with flowers for a wedding. There was also a very upmarket tea and coffee wagon but only for the wedding guests later in the day so we went to admire the view from the steep side of the hill before heading down by a gentler route to the parkland of Hanbury Hall. Our lunch stop was at the servants’ hall café and then we were able to indulge in a little NT retail therapy via the well-stocked plant sales, bookshop, etc.
On Saturday 17th August, 15 members met at the Royal Oak in Kings Bromley for a 5 mile walk. The walk in the Trent valley was exceptionally flat and the weather kind after a very mixed week. Unfortunately one of the footpaths that we intended to use was closed so we were forced to walk on the verge of the main road for almost a mile to Orgreave, where we had our coffee stop. At the coffee stop we learned from one of the locals that the tenant farmer had been evicted following a dispute with the landlord and the path was closed until the matter is sorted out. We returned through cornfields and lanes back to the pub in time for an excellent lunch. (John Clews)
On Saturday 14 September, 12 walkers met in bright sunshine at the Navigation Inn, Lapworth. Our 5½ mile route took us past NT Baddesley Clinton and we called into the 13thC St Michael’s parish church to admire it’s simple interior. We passed through Hay Wood and over fields to Rowington Church, where we stopped for coffee. Quiet lanes led us to the Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal and on to the Kingswood Branch Canal where our photo was taken. It was then a very short walk along the Grand Union Canal back to the Navigation Inn for a really good lunch.
On Saturday 12th October, 21 walkers met at the Bagot Arms in Abbots Bromley to pre-order meals. We then set off by car for the Blithfield Walking and Education Centre where Margery led us on a 5½ mile walk over two very different types of ground. The first loop took us via rolling fields over newly installed stiles, through mud and past some curious cattle. We had a sheltered spot for our coffee break and enjoyed the sun which had just come out. The second, much flatter, loop was on forest paths and beside the reservoir itself. On our return to the Bagot Arms we enjoyed a very satisfying lunch.
Saturday 16 November was a cool, dry day with little wind but so much rain had fallen in the week that we did meet some flooding in the lower places on our walk. 17 walkers set off from the Strawberry Cabin at Hints and walked south to the Heart of England Way. After some road walking along quiet lanes we climbed Gorsey Hill where, although the distance views were hazy, the autumn colour was beautiful. Following the contour around Job’s Hill we reached Hints village by the well drained footpath around the swollen ford. Lunch at the Strawberry Cabin was excellent and served quickly.
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