Paul and Helen are moving to Totnes next week, so this was their farewell appearance for the time being, and Helen's first enrollment on one of these Friday walks, which in recent times have been frequented in the main by a threesome - Paul, Graeme and me, who have become known as 'The Three Musketeers', a fact that was news to the three of us!
The Davenham route that we (The Three Musketeers) enjoyed on 18 September was chosen for its suitability in relation to both distance and tea shop facilities.
Unfortunately none of us took the trouble to read my report on the earlier walk.
Anyway, we dutifully crossed the bridge over the River Dane. Paul and I marched briskly across a squelchy field to the lonely stile that we remembered from last time, when to get there we had an easy stroll across a dry field.
How were we to know that in the intervening two months the path had turned into a water meadow? The others can be seen in the top picture (click on it for a better image) making a laborious detour from which they returned (below), complaining of wet feet, only minutes into the walk. Sue's gaiters had clearly been a waste of space, as demonstrated when she took her boots off and wrung out her socks.
Soon we reached the Trent & Mersey Canal, where for muddiness the towpath was competing with the Bridgewater Canal at Dunham Massey. It was ok though, and we strolled happily past Park Farm Marina.
After all of about 3 km, we reached a familiar bench. Coffee and fudge was shared out whilst certain members of the party wriggled their wet toes in a futile effort to warm them up. And, as you can see, social distancing is still the norm, and benches are rarely sat upon these days.
This convenient bench is in memory of Alf Ball (1941 - 2010), who has 'Gone Fishing', and James Alfred Ogden (1938 - 2012), who is 'Remembered Always'.
Continuing onwards, we received a couple of warnings from folk about the towpath being closed further on. We continued on regardless, but on reaching the barrier there was clearly no sensible way past this obstacle, especially as we could hear the sound of machinery nearby.
Then it occurred to The Three Musketeers that perhaps they had seen a sign warning of the closure when they were here in September, and at the time had noted their good fortune at just avoiding the period of closure...
If you look carefully at Sue, you'll see that she acquired a hot water bottle in the form of a sleepy tabby cat.