Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Northbound hike
DS43 Country lanes
DS43 Blossom
Missed my turning at Whitegate (above), but met some geese to compensate
DS43 Geese
DS43 Geese
Days S33 - S43                                                                     North of England
Day S43 - Gorstage to Nantwich
Day S42                       Saved by photography                          Day S44
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English Midlands
    English West Country

 
Northbound Home
Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time of departure: 8.15 am
Time of arrival: 3.00 pm
Place departed: Gorstage, Cheshire
Place arrived: Nantwich, Cheshire

Miles: 17.5
Cum miles: 600.7
Percent complete: 61.9

Bed sign Red Cow, Nantwich **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 45 ($90)
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DS43 Precise sign
DS43 High Hedge
DS43 Fishing competition
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The rain held off, and weatherwise it was a fairly pleasant, rather overcast, cool day.

But in other respects it started badly and only improved when I decided that I might be taking some interesting photographs. Early on, I concluded I had over-rated the Oaklands Hotel when I froze all night because the radiator didn't work. Then, arriving for breakfast at the stated hour, the cook told me I was too early. After breakfast, they charged my credit card in dollars instead of pounds, using a nasty exchange rate per a shady scheme I describe in the northbound journal. When I returned to my room, the key didn't work because the lock was old, but they quickly lent me the master keys to all the rooms as if this was standard procedure. After then collecting my belongings and returning the master keys, I departed. Later in the day, I found I still had the room key in my pocket. By the time I had that in an envelope to send them, the post offices had closed for the weekend.

Then, just two miles from the hotel, I missed a turning in Whitegate, and arrived in Foxwist Green by accident, erasing the mileage benefits of last night's careful route planning.

My route lay on country lanes through a region called Vale Royal. Pretty homes, some thatched, sat amidst daffodils and some cherry blossom. The roads were untraveled through the morning, but traffic did pick up later in the day as the route changed from lanes to B-roads.

Arriving in Winsford, where I had ploughed through a sewage farm's drain field heading north, my mugometer went off the scale in the presence of some young troublemakers, and I was glad to put Winsford behind me even in broad daylight. Spotting what seemed like a nice bench when my road crossed the A54, I detoured over to it, only to find it had a seat-back and no seat.

I am blessed by a good memory for landscape. If I've traveled a certain route before, I can often recall what lies ahead when I travel it again. As I neared Church Minshall, I remembered a nice pub on the righthand side of the road. The weather had turned humid, and I was ready for a shandy break. But when The Badger materialized as I'd foreseen, it was boarded up.

Fate then seemed to save me from The Badger's demise. In the grass verge, I spotted a can of Strongbow. Of course, cans by the roadside are so common that they no longer enter my consciousness, but this one did. Why? Because it had its plastic neck-strap on - the thing that straps four or six cans together in the store. My street-smarts told me that no one ever drinks from a can without first removing this strap, so the can must be full. And so it was, its best-by date was in the future, and I just knew I was going to enjoy my Strongbow roadside surprise.

But the cider was too warm to be refreshing. There's something about sweet-flavored drinks that demands them to be served cold or hot but never lukewarm. Pouring away the Strongbow, I was now left with an empty can, a plastic strap, sticky fingers, no trash can in sight, and a feeling that I'd been stupid. Such grave misfortune is not to be underestimated. Thanks are due to Steven Manning at Primrose Cottage in Church Minshall for taking the trash to his bin for me. And, if Strom Bo, the Swedish archer, writes in to say I owe him a Strongbow for taking the one he lost in Church Minshall, well, sorry Strom - I 'aint playing that game right now. See if I'm in a better mood tomorrow.

My day was somewhat saved by the sight of an angling contest on the Shropshire Union Canal near here. The anglers were equally-spaced along the canal towpath, each huddled over his rod. I think it made a good picture. Later, I did get my shandy in the Worleston Royal Oak. And I passed the nicely-named village of Aston juxta Mondrum, and marveled at the so-neat stud farms in these parts.

But, wait, all was not well yet. My camera memory card reported "full". A distant "B&B" sign turned out to be a pedigree Holstein breeder - not the sort of place one wants to spend the night. I also discovered that I haven't got all the maps I need for my replanned routing. And I got a ground floor room at the Red Cow on a busy sidewalk facing the city bus station on Saturday night.

Tomorrow, it's due to be icy weather nationwide, with lots of rain and even some snow.

I don't know quite what signaled it, but the feeling that I was now through the North of England and entering the Midlands was quite palpable.
DS43 Badger
DS43 Strongbow
DS43 Aston sign
Red Cow
Day S42                                         2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                           Day S44