Saturday, 15 July 2017

15/07/17 - Heart of England Way - Stage 4 - Castle Ring

Distance - 6.5 Miles
Geocaches - 20
Pubs - The Nelson Inn - Olde Trip, Park Gate Inn - Lancaster Bomber
Previous Stages - Stage 1Stage 2, Stage 3

After three months and 3 walks, the Heart of England Way finally takes me out of Cannock Chase. The walking there has been fine but something was missing, as the experiences left me slightly underwhelmed.

That something has been identified on Stage 4.  Geocaches and pubs.

After finding about a grand total of 10 caches on the first 3 legs, I manage to triple my count for the Long Distance Path today.

And after having passed next to no pubs (There is one at the start in Milford, but I wouldn't recommend it), I walk past 4 today.

It's all kicking off in Staffordshire.

The walking is far more varied today.  The woods are left behind for common land, country lanes and some very good footpaths.

There might even have been elevated views over the West Midlands but the weather put paid to that.

Views over the West Midlands
Looking over Gentleshaw
It's all downhill, diving into bushes for cache retrieval and working my way across lanes and common land.  Good walking, good caching but little to photo.

A couple of pubs are passed.  Tempted by the Drill Inn but at 11:47am, the door was firmly bolted.   Only 20 minutes further on before I hit the Nelson Inn in Creswell Green.

Halfway round is always a good place to take a breather.

Nelson Inn
Nelson Inn
Nelson Inn
Olde Trip

I can tell by the amount of cars pulling emergency stops that this is a hard place to find.  I imagine it was a run down sort of place that has had a make over.   They've added "Country Dining" to the signage.

It's immaculate.  The toilets smell as chemically fresh as a municipal swimming pool, no doubt scrubbed to within an inch of their life.  It caters for families, with small kids.  I tried to take my pint outside but was beaten by very wet garden furniture.

And the pint?  There was a choice of 5, most were uninspiring and well known (think Abbot Ale) and I thought I would go for a Olde Trip, following a taster.

It was Greene King.

Moving on, its all uphill, with not quite the same amount of caches.  One cache does offer decent views at Ground Zero.

Views from GZ
The walking back is OK, but the planned route does have to be changed twice because of lost footpaths.  I really ought to get on to Staffs Council about the one at 52°41.822'N, 1°54.049'W, the footpath north has been fenced over with no access and a detour along Lower Lane was required.

Some encounters with Staffs Wildlife - past a field of happy free range pigs and a through a field of laid back bovines and I'm at the Park Gate Inn.

A much more satisfactory walk on the HOEW.  I'm positively itching to get back for Stage 5 and hit the fleshpots of Lichfield.

The Park Gate Inn is a former farmhouse - complete with a well outside and a similar, rather scary hole in the main bar - leading to the wine cellars.  Fortunately protected by iron railings.  It too, has the Country Pub Eating motif pasted to the sign but has a more down to earth feel than the Nelson.

Park Gate
Round the Back of the Park Gate
Park Gate
Next to the Well

Four real ales here - two from Sharp's (Doom Bar and its shyer brother, Atlantic).  A rather too lively Lancaster Bomber was chosen.   It wasn't the best.

Whiled away the time in the garden researching the history of the pub.  This article provided the most interest on Staffordshire Pub and Paranormal goings on.  But I was forced to stop reading once I got to the bit about the Sasquatch of Cannock Chase.

Hard to read with tears in your eyes.

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