Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Thursday 13 December 2012 – Around Milwich and Burston

Hoar frost in Sandon Park

Yes, I’m still soldiering on with last year’s entries!

This was a tentative recce for a Christmas walk, as it passed by an excellent establishment, the Greyhound Inn at Burston, run by TGO Challengers Alan and Peter Jordan, with a sizeable restaurant that would meet our needs.

I enjoyed the walk, and there would be adequate parking at my start point in Milwich, but had the ground not been solidly frozen it could have proved to be a bit of a soggy endurance test.  Moreover, a large group would be delayed by the 45 or so stiles I encountered en route, despite a quarter of the distance being along a canal towpath.

So this walk is maybe best left for either a dry summer’s day or a cold and frosty winter’s day like the one I enjoyed.

The route is shown below, in both ‘Anquet’ and ‘Garmin’ style, and there’s a comprehensive slideshow to supplement the following brief description, here.

Parking up outside Milwich Village Hall and former school, I took a well marked path beside the Green Man, which hostelry could be used for refreshments by those wishing to start from Burston or the A51.

Well marked paths and numerous stiles offered easy walking on frozen ground, with lingering fog helping to preserve the hoar frost that coated much of the scenery on this cold day.

Sandon Wood looked as if it is home to a large colony of badgers, and a stile leading into the wood could be used to access a good night time observation point.  The path is to the right of that misleading stile, and it leads to a gate and a rough track through the woodland and bracken.

Numerous pheasants noisily tried to keep their distance as I proceeded through Sandon Park, where the sun was trying very hard to break through as I passed close to a folly that sits on a knoll in the centre of the park.

A decrepit folly in Sandon Park

The fog was winning to the south, but the sun briefly dominated views back across the farmland to the north.

I missed a public woodland path to the right near Ritt’s Column and found myself in a narrow field between the A51 road and the London to Glasgow railway line, for the short stretch to the splendid construction that is bridge number 82 on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Refreshments could be available in the nearby village of Salt, but I chose to head along the frozen towpath towards Burston.  With the first mile post I encountered showing Shardlow 43 miles away in one direction, and Preston Brook 49 miles in the other, I seemed to be rather far from anywhere.  No matter, after tiptoeing along the edge of the canal to avoid falling through a thin sheet of ice into a quagmire, I soon reached Sandon Lock, which thankfully delivered me to higher ground and a more solid path.

There were several barges moored within a short walk of the fleshpots of Sandon Lock.

The Trent and Mersey Canal near Sandon Lock

The bridges (see slideshow) are all different on this section of canal, which I exited at bridge 85 towards Burston.

Burston was home to various members of the Stubbs family, about whom my father wrote a number of short essays.  I may even have met dad’s ‘Cousin Mary’ who lived in Stone near to various other relatives.  She died in 1953.  Hers is an interesting story – her dad, the black sheep of the family, was born in 1803.  But I digress.

I enjoyed looking around the village that was home to this strain of our family, wondering which of the houses had been their homes, before eventually wandering into the Greyhound Inn.  Hot soup and an excellent beer were savoured in the company of Alan Jordan, who was on our Turkish trip last year and is a seasoned TGO Challenger, so an hour wasn’t really sufficient.

But, suitably refreshed, I eventually left, in rather dimmer afternoon light, with wintry views back to Burston, from a hill beyond which, as dusk approached, the unseen path to Milwich lay ahead.

Here's my route - 18km, 250 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours including a good hour at the Greyhound.

My route: 18.5km, 250 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours including stops

Here’s what the Garmin gadget recorded:

And here’s a link to the slideshow again.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Completed 1950's jigsaw

I’ve noticed some bloggers raising doubts as to whether they will continue making postings beyond the immediate future for reasons such as the issues they cover having been exhausted, or the feeling that they are unable to add usefully to the subjects they cover.  I pondered their dilemma whilst we were engaged in the pleasurable festive activity featured in this posting.

There is no such dilemma on these pages.  This blog remains true to its header, written when it was set up over five years ago:

“The main purpose of this blog is to keep in touch with friends and family, and maybe entertain others with common interests, particularly in relation to the outdoors. We hope you enjoy it, and your comments are valued....”

The blog actually followed on from over five years of reporting on our outdoors activities through our website that continues to this day (though a ‘programme’ for 2013 is somewhat overdue).

The on-line record, which starts with Sue’s account of our Tour of Mont Blanc trip in 2000 – thanks go to Alan Rayner for reminding us last night of that lovely trip – follows on from a diary that started in 1980 (thanks, Laurie) and has now reached Volume 74, albeit latterly through a lot of copying and pasting (literally) from these pages.

So this blog will continue in one form or another for as long as I’m around to make the postings.  You could say that it’s in its 33rd year!

Family and friends can now call in to Picasa, etc, at will to view images of scenes in which they may have been present, and I do get satisfaction from the fact that digital images can be displayed for all to see.  What a contrast to days past when the photos or slides received a cursory glance before being boxed or albumed and eventually relegated to the loft.  I even have a set of negatives from my first venture across the Channel in the 1970’s which have never even been printed.  I must dig them out and scan them sometime!  If you are reading this, Jacqui, Roger or John – be warned!

I also gain pleasure from the comments and viewings by complete strangers who visit these pages to seek information that may be useful to them, whether it be a route, image or a gear review or sundry piece of information – this blog and our website receive over 200 such visits every day; we hope that some of those visits provide the answers or information that is being sought.

I could ramble on, but I’ll finish by thanking Richard, Jenny and Dot for their assistance with this seasonal indulgence, and Nell and Keith for providing it in the first place.  It was fun…

Detail from 1950's jigsaw 
… and it brought back happy childhood memories.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!