Abbots Bromley to Ashbourne
The place I stayed at last night – Marsh Farm B & B, thanks to Ann – was a very nice place, even if their website doesn’t really give you that impression; 1990 anyone?! The room was lovely and the breakfast was pretty good too. I think the only thing I can fault is the fact that in the room there was one window, in the roof – the room was in a converted barn and up in the eaves – but the blind that covered it didn’t really do a great job when the sun came up. Still, for £32 for the night I wasn’t complaining.
Due to the location of the B & B I changed the beginning of the route slightly. Instead of walking all the way back to the village just to walk out the other side I headed up the Uttoxeter road and then cut across to my original route using a nice quiet lane just past Bagot Forest. Although walking past lots of nice scenery it wasn’t exactly a great start to the walk, especially dodging the traffic.
It wasn’t long before I was back on the Staffordshire way and fast getting bloody annoyed by bad paths, bad sign posts and long grass again. It was fast joining the dizzy heights of the Severn Way one of my most hated sections of the walk.
A few farmer’s fields later I was making my way round the outskirts of Uttoxeter. I can’t pass judgement on Uttoxeter at all as I only got to see a bit of the town bypass, the station and around the race course.
A mile later, crossing the A50, I made my way in to Derbyshire. Unfortunately I was already beginning to feel the after effects of yesterday’s slog of a walk, which wasn’t good seeing as I was only about six miles in to another very long stretch. That said, I knew I didn’t have to complete the whole walk if I didn’t want to, or couldn’t, so I checked my maps and hatched a plan to get to Rocester, find a place to stay there for the night, taking a nice easy afternoon to catch up with myself.
Plan made I continued along my way to Rocester trying to ignore the long grass and bad paths. I ended up walking through Doveridge Clay Sports Club at Eaton Hall Farm. Fortunately nobody was shooting, which was nice.
I reached Rocester around 1pm, found some shelter from the rain and checked out places to stay on my phone. I found a hotel just down the high street so I thought I was set for the day – hurrah! It didn’t quite turn out that way though. As I approached the hotel it looked a little too quiet and reaching the door to the reception it was locked and no lights were on inside. Damn it!
What to do, what to do? The pub in the high street said it did accommodation but as it wasn’t open I couldn’t confirm this. Not knowing when it would open I couldn’t take the risk of hanging around until later that evening just to find out that they didn’t do rooms or didn’t have any left. This wasn’t looking good.
I’d wasted an hour in Rocester and had achieved absolutely nothing other than resting my feet for a little bit. There was nothing left to do but to carry on and see what I could find in the next village, Ellastone. I did do a search on my phone and found the number of a B & B and left them a message, hoping that they’d get back to me before I reached Ellastone.
Having wasted quite a lot of time I route marched the three miles to Ellastone in a very respectable fifty minutes. Unfortunately I never heard back from the B & B and the pub in the village was closed too which was a shame as I could have murdered a nice cold drink by then.
The day was fast turning in to a complete nightmare. I guess my luck had well and truly run out on the walk? I still had a good seven or eight miles to go to my original destination and with nothing else left to do I hit the trail again.
My phone signal was all over the place and I couldn’t check for numbers or anything. I managed to find a spot where I could send Matt a text to see if he could check out the accommodation in Ilam to make sure the walk would be worth it.
I carried on walking a bit more and coming across yet another style I decided to take a rest, take my boots off and see if Matt had had any luck with a bed for me for the night. I should have guessed by the way the day was going that it wouldn’t be good and it wasn’t. Nothing was available in Ilam so there was no point going there now.
Maps and GPS out I checked to see what was around and noticed I was a couple of miles away from Mayfield. I phone Matt back and asked him to check out places in Mayfield and also Ashbourne, which was a couple of miles further, just in case.
Matt got back to me pretty quickly and said there was a B & B in Mayfield but it was at least a mile’s walk from there to somewhere I would be able to get something to eat – not good – so I told Matt that I don’t think that would do as there was probably no way I’d want to walk later that evening after that day I’d had. I decided to make my way in to Ashbourne as it was a bigger place and I was hopeful that one of the hotels/B & Bs Matt sent me the details for would have a room.
It was getting a bit late in the day by now and I was worried that I’d find myself still on the road and potentially somewhere where I didn’t have a signal and therefore miss speaking to the girls, which would just about top the day off nicely – no, I don’t mean that seriously! With that thought in mind I put my gear back on, put my head down and went for it.
The only thing I remember from those final four or so miles was yet again trying to follow a poorly sign posted path, making me struggle through some trees as I’d missed the entrance to the path because was completely covered and not marked, or if it was it wasn’t bloody obvious!
I made it though and with a good signal on my phone I pulled up Google maps to check on the places Matt had sent me. I walked past one, a guest house, and thought I’d just see what else was around before trying in there. I’d decided that after two very tough days I was going to have a day off to catch up with myself and I wanted something a bit better.
The map on my phone showed that there was another place, not on Matt’s list, just up the road. This place was called Just B and it was a bar, bistro and it did bedrooms too. If this place was ok then it could be just the ticket, especially as I’d only have to go downstairs for dinner and a well deserved beer.
I walked up the road – up hill – and looked at the place to see what I thought. It looked good so I grabbed my phone and went online to see if I could find any reviews of the place. I found only one and it was a good review so I went in. The bar and restaurant area looked good, the staff were friendly and they had a room for the next two nights so I was sorted.
I dumped my stuff and started to sort myself out. I didn’t get very far as it was time to speak to the girls, that’s how late it was when I got in to Ashbourne. Alice and I had a lovely chat where she told me she’d got lots of new clothes for school because she’s getting bigger and that she’s on level two of her reading books because, as she put it, she’s too good – love her to bits. She really did a great job of putting a smile back on my face. Elisa unfortunately didn’t want to talk so I had to leave it there. Shame.
I got cleaned up, did some washing and then went downstairs for a well deserved pint and to see what they had available for dinner. The beer wasn’t great, no ale but then that didn’t surprise me so I opted for Peroni on tap.
The food though was a different matter, it was a gastronomic extravaganza. After looking through the menu I decided to have pan fried scallops with mango and chilli salsa served on beetroot crisps for a starter, followed by grilled bison steak with roast baby vegetables and redcurrant jus, with chips of course. I’m pleased to say that it was all delicious and I’d highly recommend popping in for something to eat if you ever find yourself in Ashbourne.
I sat at the bar chatting with the staff for a couple of hours, talking about the walk and stuff. I found out that they’d only recently changed their name – hence only finding one review online – and they’d recently expanded their menu, which was good news for me. All in all a very pleasant evening after a very bad day.
I’ve not been in the best of moods for the last couple of days for one reason or another. I think I’ve finally reached the point of complete physical and mental exhaustion from all of this and I’m wound up really tightly at the moment, ready to burst at the smallest thing. I don’t like being in that head-space as it’s been a long time since I last felt like this. I need to sort this out otherwise the rest of the walk is going to be no fun at all, so hopefully a day off will really help. We’ll see.