Walk Diary Sunday 5 March 2017 Weather, 7°C. WET
Froghall Wharf Depart 10.06 a.m. 7 ½ Miles Leader: Dick H.
No. on walk 7
You can probably tell, from the number on this walk that it was a pretty lousy day and only a very few of us mad or foolhardy people dared to put our heads out of doors, fortunately we had a sensible leader who adapted his original plan to take account of the conditions. In effect he did a completely different route than to the one planned and it worked out to be a fine substitution.
First off we had a little discussion as to whether we were in favour of a walk in the rain and having made the journey into deepest Staffordshire, the thought was why waste a journey, so off we set. The first hour we walked along the towpath of the Caldon Canal, along the Churnet Way and the Staffordshire Way. Just as we set off a narrow boat left its moorings just ahead of us and we followed it as far as Consall. The canal also runs beside the River Churnet and the railway of the same name and we were fortunate to see a steam / diesel hauled rake of carriages pass by at some speed up the valley. it seemed by the plume of smoke from the engines stack that the steam powered loco was doing all the work, perhaps the return leg would be the turn of the diesel.
After just over two and a half miles we reached the Black Lion pub at Consall, just on eleven. There was shelter here and although not open for ale we were able to purchase tea and coffee, some of us remaining outside under the plastic shelter, whilst others pampered themselves by a roaring fire inside.
It had been good going so far although as you might expect the path although flat was waterlogged for most of the way. Our next effort would be to climb the Devil's Staircase, a rise of some three hundred feet to Belmont Hall, lots of steps and some steep slopes brought us to the road at the top. We now followed cross field paths, still on a slight incline to reach St. Leonard's church at Ipstones, although a sign on the wall called it Odda. In any case this is where we perched for our lunch either on the church wall or in the nearby graveyard where there were some benches.
South eastwards now making our way over many ups and downs, to reach the village of Foxt. After walking through this pretty little village we made a precarious descent to the raging Shirley Brook, the dirty brown surging waters looking very uninviting. We crossed it via a small footbridge and then after a good climb back up with some good steps to aid us, we made it to the Staffordshire Moorlands Walk path, which we followed through Harston Wood gently descending until reaching Froghall Wharf. It was through Harston Wood that we spotted Harston Rock, a tall column of rock standing above the tree line, normally not seen from this path when there are leaves on the trees. It looked very much like a church tower, I have attached a not very good picture, but by this point nearly all my equipment had been got at by the damp atmosphere.
A little disappointment at the end, as once we had changed we walked across the car park to Hatie's Cafe only to find that it was closed, we were about ten days to early so we decided not to wait! Despite the rain, this was an interesting walk that I think would go down a treat on a nice warm summer's day. Thanks Dick.