LETJOG – DAY 23: WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE – BURTON-UPON-TRENT to ASHBOURNE (20 miles)
Today has been very much a day of two very different halves. The morning, walking alone, initially exiting Burton along its busy main street, then beside the Trent and Mersey Canal and across the River Dove, before some gentle footpaths and lanes northward through Egginton and Etwall, past Sutton-On-The-Hill, to the fine village of Longford. A pleasant rather than spectacular morning walk; hedgerows punctuated by occasional Scots pines and brimming with wild roses aplenty, bounding rolling green pastures of rust-coloured cows pleasingly at ease with the russets and reds of the local brick-built farm buildings.
And so, in Longford, former home to the world’s first commercial cheese factory (est. 1870), today ‘Part Two’ began. Here I met up once more with my companions Rick and Eleanor, together with our mutual school-friend Rob, for a picnic lunch by the church. Then, for some miles, a fine walk together, along a direct bridleway across the Osmaston Estate, through the villages Shirley and Osmaston itself, and eventually into the centre of Ashbourne for a hard-earned drink or two, outside, in the town square. Such a wonderful day for a reunion of close friends unable to meet together ‘off-Zoom’ these last 18 months. Dinner followed, and a ‘cleansing’ ale in Smith’s Tavern.
Thanks, all three, for being part of a great LETJOG day!
And all the while, as the gentle slopes of the wide Trent valley opened out before me, there on the northern horizon, hazy and far-off in the morning, appeared the hills of the Peak District, growing ever nearer through the afternoon. I learnt many years ago, in third-year geography at school, that ‘Upland Britain’ lies to the north and west of the ‘Exe-Tees Line’. The last ten days, or so, have been spent walking the flatlands on the margins of this divide: tomorrow my walk would transition into the highlands of the north, and my LETJOG walking challenge would truly begin!