Trinity Men’s Fellowship Eccleshall - Staffordshire

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The shorter walk in Swynnerton - September 2018

The short walk was splendid but fraught with no little pain. There were an inordinate number of stiles (three to be exact) which all needed real teamwork to negotiate.

The car park of the the FitzHerbert Arms, was awash with coffee drinking and chattering walkers. The routes were discussed and eventually understood. The youngsters strode off like young gazelles, faces shining with hope and intent. We, however, the more sedate amblers, walked past the rear of the Swynnerton Hall, remarking on the two churches being so close together. Swinging right down the slope, we emerged from the deep shade of the huge fir and sycamore trees seeing before us the terrific sight of the parkland sloping away to the south, dotted with calmly grazing sheep. We turned right again heading towards the hamlet of Cotes, between the picturesque cricket ground and a poppy-laden field. Is this the season of poppies we debated? More likely to be the mushroom season was the reasoned conclusion. Just before the ‘T’ junction where we turned right into the village, a large mound is visible beside an electricity pylon. Some thought it was a WW2 bunker, others a Stone Age tumulus. On asking a passing farmer we were told that it was a water storage tank! Up to this point we had walked only on roads. The map showed that there was a footpath again on the right. Consternation, there was a path, guarded by an almost vertical stone ladder topped by a stile narrow and forbidding! It took quite a time to ease, squeeze and heave the six of us over it.

A rest was taken, shaking limbs checked and mutterings interchanged as well as the walks organisers’ heritage being discussed. Moving on, we discovered how far down hill we had walked into Cotes, for the path before us climbed quite steeply to yet another stile! More heritage discussions, more pushing and shoving to negotiate the obstruction and great care being taken to avoid the electric fence wire stretching across the topmost rung. The ensuing path was quite deep in grass making limbs ache even more. Of course, there was yet another stile, there had to be. Enough said!  We trudged through a wood and then through a kissing gate. We could have kissed the inventor! Why are stiles not banned and all then replaced by kissing gates?

Along this path, the views to west and north are truly magnificent, Staffordshire at its very best! This is a county with everything!

Both groups met again in the car park and eased into the large dining room of the Fitz which we had to ourselves. As usual, walkers and those who joined us for the lunch enjoyed a splendid meal remembering as we relaxed, Andrew Redhead lately passed and sadly missed.

Text by David M and photos by Ron

More photographs and a route map can be seen by clicking here.