Conrad is a good friend who I would never have encountered but for this blog. He met Mick and Gayle on one of their long walks, following which we became aware of each others blogging exploits, enjoyed ‘following’ each other, and eventually met up. Conrad’s extensive blogging records, dating from 2009, are here, though as with most bloggers his most interesting trips may have been much earlier.
On 10 April 2017 Conrad set off on a walk from Berwick-on-Tweed to Castle Carey. It’s quite a long way and has provided considerable challenges.
On catching up with his reports after our return from ‘Summer in the Alps’, I realised that he had passed by Timperley a couple of days earlier. Not an entirely enjoyable experience as he had accidentally left the excellent surface of the Trans Pennine Trail in favour of an obscure sea of mud under the M60 motorway, rather than use the shiny dry footbridge nearby.
He was still close by, staying at Winterley, near Crewe, on Thursday night. So I set off with a view to surprising him on the South Cheshire Way footpath that runs directly south from Winterley. I assumed that as he was moving south, he would take that route. (But, dear reader, you may have noted from the start date of Conrad’s walk that he sometimes moves in mysterious ways!)
Anyway, I parked up in Weston and headed north through the Cheshire countryside, pausing for the occasional snap (see below) and wondering when I would bump into said heroic Long Distance Walker.
After negotiating my way uneasily through the bunkers of Crewe Golf Club, where hundreds of emaciated old men were driving round in buggies and wielding cartloads of clubs, I realised it was after 10 am and I was approaching Conrad’s departure point. A ‘phone call was needed.
Q. “Where are you, Conrad?”
I must admit, I hadn’t expected him to head east from his overnight stop.
“Text me with your map reference in an hour’s time.”
I returned to Weston – ‘Walk 1’ below – 11.6 km.
After parking on a grass verge by the A500, I received two messages:
1. ‘SJ 796 595 could be a while’
2. ‘SJ 790 545 In middle of nowhere. Will email emergency point shortly’
Conrad certainly knows how to get misplaced on an obscure route. But with the aid of modern technology I was soon able to ambush him with a cup of tea.
The next bit of navigation was easy, as I’d come that way. I decided to stay with Conrad along the footpath to Audley. After passing Millend and a pond that served as a reserve for Canada Geese, the footpath proceeded towards a sewage works. Except that at SJ 794 520 the path ceased to exist. We spent quite a few minutes relocating to a minor road, where I abandoned our hero and returned to Polly. Walk 2 – 5.3 km.
Another short walk in Audley relocated Conrad and led up a paved road to some sandwiches that I’d secreted earlier in Polly’s boot. Walk 3 – 1.4 km.
We worked out a sensible route to Madeley Heath, where I was to recce the suitability of a main road to Madeley for a pedestrian like Conrad. So off I went with confidence, carried out the recce, and parked up in Madeley Heath.
Conrad made good progress, and we met at the only two benches, by Bates Wood Nature Reserve, on the route. It was 3.15. We took pictures of each other – see header picture.
The paths hereabouts were good, and from the car (and Conrad’s hill route) you could see hills littered along the horizon to the west. But most of the scenery was as shown below. Lush tree foliage but drought parched grasses.
Heading past Agger Hill Farm, a beautiful flower proclaimed itself from the top of a rather manky stem.
After a steep descent we reached the A531 at Madeley Heath Farm, where they maybe don’t have much space as the animals appear to be shrunken versions of the real thing.
My recce had revealed a negotiable pavement to Madeley, but it was after 4pm and Conrad needed a rest. He likes to be truly ‘on holiday’ after 4pm. So Walk 4 ended after 5.3 km at Madeley Heath, from where Polly transported our legendary Long Distance Walker to near his B&B in Madeley.
“Don’t take me all the way, I want to arrive on foot!”
What a lovely day out, away from all the post-holiday domestic chores, and thanks to the emptiness of the M6 I was able to return home in time to have tea on the table just as her majesty returned home from work.
Here are my ramblings for the day – all there and back, totalling about 24 km, with 150 metres ascent.
Conrad’s report on the day is here, and I’m pleased to discover that his B&B was excellent and that he enjoyed poached salmon for supper.