First decision today was whether to risk more limestone torture in wet slippery dales or a longer more tedious Tissington Trail. Knowing that Dovedale is a popular spot I opted for the dales route – turned out to be a good decision as I made swift progress through Biggin Dale then followed the rolling river Dove through green valleys and limestone outcrops all the way to Dovedale 7 miles later, on the way moving into my home county of Staffordshire. Rain was intermittent and heavy at times so I was once again sweating off pounds I don’t have under the waterproofs.
After Dovedale the terrain changed and the frustration mounted as I yomped through field after field of sheep, boisterous cows, knee high grass, rickety, overgrown stiles and had to continually stop to check my map in the rain – was not sorry to see the back of the Limestone Way when I eventually got to Rocester.
I joined The Staffordshire Way and the frustration got worse. More map issues, head high nettles and fallen trees along the river (the same river Dove that had been so pleasant earlier). This was followed by more fields eventually passing beneath the busy A50 and a circuitous arrival at Uttoxeter racecourse which added probably an extra half mile to my day.
Some significant moments though as today I passed Middle Mayfield, the village where my son-in-law Joe used to live and walked through the grounds of Abbotsholme School where my daughter Suzie studied for her A Levels. Even Rocester football ground held some memories of my distant youth. Overall an unnecessarily tiring day, mentally and physically.