Follow my progress as I attempt to walk the length of the UK, from Dover to Cape Wrath, wild camping every night. In this chapter, I briefly follow the Trent and Mersey Canal to Rugeley, and then walk the Staffordshire Way to Rocester. You can read about my preparations for this walk here, chapter one of my walk from Dover here and my full gear list here.
If you’d like to see an overview map of my whole route from Dover to Cape Wrath, it’s here.
Day 13: Fradley Junction to Rocester
My wife and two youngest children camped with me last night, by the lock at Fradley Junction. It was a chilly night’s sleep. The temperature dropped to about 7 degrees, which is about the comfort limit of our summer sleeping bags. The bonus of waking up early, though, was a beautiful mist over the canal and a glorious sunrise.
We had breakfast all together before packing up the tents, resupplying from the car and heading off on the Trent and Mersey Canal. My family walked with me for a little while before turning round and heading home. It was lovely to have some company.
I followed the Trent and Mersey Canal from Fradley Junction to Rugeley, and then picked up the Staffordshire Way. This would take me to Rocester, where I would then join the Limestone Way all the way to Edale.
Walking the Staffordshire Way was a wake-up call after so long on the canals. Now I had to watch my navigation and path finding! The route does not seem to be very well walked.
By lunchtime I had reached the village of Abbots Bromley, and I stopped at the Crown pub for lunch. Abbots Bromley is the best-kept village in Staffordshire, according to the sign. The other day I went to ‘the best pub in Staffordshire’ – this is proving to be a good route!
I had a lovely meal in here; a two-course Sunday lunch and a pint. I struggled to eat it all.
The weather was glorious today: full sunshine, a light breeze and very hot. I was definitely testing my new Icebreaker shirt to its limit.
After leaving the pub I continued on the Staffordshire Way towards Uttoxeter. It was a challenge to find the path in places, but never impossible. The path was a little overgrown in places, but that may be due to the Covid-19 lockdown only recently easing. It was lovely walking with rolling hills and farmland.
Often the route took me through cattle fields (which I’m not a great fan of), but none have taken any notice of me yet. There have been some big fields to cross though, with nowhere to go if the cows had got lively. Someone once told me not to look them in the eyes as they take that as aggression, so I try to ignore them.
By 6pm I’d reached Uttoxeter. Being a Sunday, the only shop open was a Tesco service station. It had very friendly staff just letting one person in at a time. They were very chatty and interested in my walk, but I felt a little uneasy as I could feel the stares from the fast-building queue behind me. I just bought some more water and a drink, and carried on.
Uttoxeter seemed like a lovely place from the little I saw of it. It’s famous for its racecourse, but it is a smaller town than I expected given how well-known it is. I walked a few more miles, intending to pass Rocester and join the Limestone Way ready for tomorrow.
However, I found an idyllic camp spot by the River Dove and couldn’t pass it by. It was so peaceful – and most importantly, flat. It was only 7.30pm but I felt it was a good decision to stop. Camp spots haven’t exactly been 10 a penny on this trip, so I was lucky to find this one.
I made coffee and dried the tent before going to bed at around 9.30am. It had been an early start from Fradley Junction this morning, and I was tired.
Day 14: Rocester and the start of the Limestone Way
Today I will leave the Staffordshire Way in Rocester and join the Limestone Way. I’ll follow this (sort of) to Castleton, and then I only have two long-distance paths left on this walk: the Pennine Way and the Scottish National Trail. Scotland is feeling a little closer at last!
I’ve enjoyed walking the Staffordshire Way and I’ve met some nice people along the way. Twice I’ve been asked for directions. Why don’t people carry maps? I couldn’t walk anywhere without my OS mapping.
I am loving the challenge of this walk from Dover to Cape Wrath. It’s great to have something I need to push myself to achieve. Walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats last year was different, as there was no expectation that I’d finish it and it took weeks to get going up the country. It felt like I was in Cornwall forever. This time it feels good to look back so soon at the distance I’ve travelled in two weeks.
Soon I will be in the hills, pretty much permanently until Cape Wrath.
I slept well last night in my lovely peaceful camp spot. There weren’t even any early morning dog walkers or runners. I woke around 5.30am and was packed up and away by 6.30am. The Staffordshire Way route took me through the edge of Rocester, and I joined the Limestone Way. Don’t look for any Limestone Way signs though, as there certainly aren’t any here!
My next blog post will follow the Limestone Way into the Peak District and the start of the Pennine Way.
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