Saturday, 27 May 2017

27/05/17 - Heart of England Way - Stage 2 - Glacial Erratic

Distance - 7.25 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Pub - Littleton Arms, Penkridge
Previous Stage - Stage 1

2nd monthly circular walk on the Heart of England Way and we're back in Cannock Chase.   Odd place Cannock Chase.  The heath land provides decent tracks and good walking, but its all a little monotonous.  There's really noting to separate this walk from Stage 1 and next month, we'll be back again for more of the same.

We pick up the HOEW at Glacial Erratic Car Park and head south through Brocton Fields.  Early chance of refreshment at a tea shop that also does camping.

Cannock Chase
Cannock Chase Monotony
Tea Rooms and Camping
Tea and Camping

The Katyn monument is marked on the OS Map and proves to me a significant memorial to 14,000 Polish intellectuals and officers, murdered by the Soviets in 1940.  We take a moment to read the inscriptions but even with Internet based research, remain unsure as to why the memorial is in this little corner of Staffordshire.

Katyn Monument
Katyn Monument
Back into the moor land and we make our way to the main visitors centre for a 2nd break of the day. This is where stage 3 will start next month.

Cannock Chase
More Cannock Chase
The rest of the walk is similar to the above photo.  A handful of very decent Geocaches provide some entertainment and we avoid the twin hazards of mountain bikers and a rifle range, complete with danger area red arrows on the map.  There's also a wonderful looking campsite in the woods, where plots look very random.  I imagine its a great place to think that you are in the Canadian Rockies, under threat of bear attack, rather than being 10 miles from Wolverhampton.

Son of Chainslapper
One of Several Mountain Bike Trails
With the threat of a thunder storm nearly realised by some very heavy raindrops that fortunately peter out to nothing, we head back to the car, 3 hours after setting out.

Coming Back
Ticking off another part of Cannock Chase
All that remains is post walk refreshment and here's the quandary.  There doesn't appear to be anywhere nice to go.  On the first leg, we had no plans and unfortunately ended up in a very chainy "Eating Inn" pub.  Keen not to make the same mistake, we searched and searched for real ale pubs that did meals.  Black Country Ales Crystal Fountain nearly came out a winner but lacked food and the rest were a horror show of Hungry Horses, Punch Taverns and 2 for 1 Marstons pubs.

The best hope appeared to be Penkridge, 6 miles away.  Even on the way, we kept our eyes open for alternatives.  Bednall looked promising, somehow advertising a Beer Festival but without a pub to actually host it in.  Acton Trussell had a Moat House Hotel, described online as "Elegant".

The celebrity dotted streets of Penkridge it is then, with the 1st person seen, the former WBA and Wolves striker Don Goodman.

The Mappiman dollar could have been spent in the White Hart but we were put off by the gaggle of smokers blocking the entrance who transpired to be the staff.   No other punters inside, I had the embarrassment of turning tail and announcing "we had changed our minds".

Instead, the Littleton Arms saved the day.  Proud signs announcing it as "Staffordshire Pub of the Year" lured us in.

Littleton Arms, Penkridge
2016 Staffordshire Pub of the Year
A prize that seems wholly deserved.  Six real ales on, all with tasting notes in a menu and chalkboard. Fine home made fish finger sandwiches.  Only improvement I could suggest is serving the right drink in the right glass.

Three Tons Solstice and an Old Mout
Three Tuns Solstice and an Old Mout
We'll be back next month.  Happy for any recommendations on where to take the next post walk refreshment.

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