Muddy Walk over Martlin Hill, Colton, Staffordshire
Today, we followed one of the routes from the current issue of Country Walking Magazine, which was a 5 ¾ mile/ 9.2 km circular walk starting from the village of Colton, near Rugeley in Staffordshire.
Endomondo agreed with the distance, coming in at 5.6 miles.
This was the map plan:
Overall this was a very pleasant walk. There were, however parts of it, which were like a mud-quagmire and, if I was to do the route again soon, I would probably change those parts.
The instructions were very clear and very specific, which was particularly useful when we were walking over the fields. I don’t think I have encountered so many stiles on a walk and they are not my strong point!
We, that being me and my husband Greg, set off from the village of Colton. The first mile is along the road and this was quite dangerous. It is a fairly narrow country road, however it seems to be a bit of a rat-run, cut-through road as there were quite a lot of cars whizzing along in both directions.
We were, however, more concerned about being run over by a cyclist as this road was clearly a cyclist race-track!
I was glad to get to the turn off for the track beside the railway line! I felt a lot safer there!
We followed the route along to the canal and came to a place where the Trent and Mersey Canal crosses over the River Trent.
We walked along the canal until we came to the place where you could turn off to the right to go and visit the churches in Rugeley or carry on to the left on the pavement on the main road to the next stage.
We crossed the road and came out next to Rugeley Trent Valley Railway Station and a pub called “The YorkshireMan” (in the middle of Staffordshire! Good job there isn’t any War of the Roses rivalry here!
We followed the track towards Parchfield Farm and then turned towards the ponds and the part of the walk over the fields. This part of the walk was well signposted with Walk marker arrows on the gate posts, which was quite helpful.
As we were now on grassy tracks and paths, this is where it started to get a bit muddy. This is to be expected at this time of year as we have had a fair bit of rain.
The worst parts for mud were around the gates, which is also understandable as it does not take much for a tractor to churn up already wet ground.
The absolute worst part was when we tried to walk around a cattle feeding station and in front of the barn and farm house. This was a total quagmire. It was quite scary because it was very hard to determine exactly how deep the mud was. Our walking poles were just sinking into the ground. There were places where the mud was up over our boots. I was glad my boots were very waterproof, although there were places where I felt the mud coming in over the top of my boots, even though they were under my waterproofs.
As this was clearly the route where cattle went in and out of the farmyard, it was very difficult to tell whether we were walking in mud or in churned-up cow pats! Judging from the smell of some of the mud, I have a strong suspicion it was the latter!
I had never done the walk before, so I had no idea of possible alternatives.
Looking at the map afterwards, there was another bridle path that went from the ponds at New Barn back up to the road at Hollow Lane at the top. With hindsight, which is a wonderful teacher, that would have probably been a better and safer way to go, although it would have probably cut off a good mile of the walk.
Once we got past the farm, the rest of the walk over the fields and back to the road was much better. It was wet underfoot, but that was fine.
By this time it was starting to rain and I was getting a bit fed up.
We started back down the road towards Colton and then turned in onto a path, which took us down over some fields and back to the village.
In the last field, we saw some horses, which started to rapidly make their way towards us. When they got to us, we held out our hands to say Hello. We got a lick on the hand, so that was good. As we continued, the horses headed rapidly down over the field to the shelter. Clearly they were not coming to greet us, but they were actually going in out of the rain!
Apart from the mud, my other challenge was getting myself over the stiles. When I have been on walks with groups, I have seen people get to a stile and just step over it, as it they were going up and down a step. I don’t seem to have that ability.
I am not sure whether it is my short legs or whether it being wrapped up in waterproof trousers – a bit like a Michelin Woman – that impedes my leg bending abilities or whether I have just got so overweight and unfit that my joints just don’t move! I really don’t know what it is but I could not get myself over the stiles.
I ended up bending myself in all different directions to try to get over the stiles, and, on several occasions, nearly ended up in the hawthorn bushes.
Greg was clearly waiting for me to fall on my bottom in the mud, and no doubt he would have laughed if I had done so!
There really has got to be an easier way!!
I suppose if I am going to end up in an un-ladylike heap in a pile of mud, I need to make sure that is OFF- Camera!
She was RIGHT!
When we set off, Greg had his waterproof trousers neatly folded up and packed in his rucksack. As the dutiful wife and fussing mother-hen that I can be, I told him to put his waterproof trousers on because it was going to be wet and muddy, which is what he himself had told me.
But, No, we can’t do that.
“I’ll put them on if it starts to rain,” he says.
“Suit yourself,” was my reply, “I can’t be bothered arguing with Mr Always Right.”
OK, to be fair, we did not have that much rain, apart from the last mile back down the road and through the last field. The heaviest rain was as we got back to the car.
Waterproof trousers, would, however, have been very useful for him when we went through the mud quagmire.
This was how he ended up, with some rather muddy trousers! And he had to get in my car like that!
So, SHE, that is to say ME, was right on this occasion. Waterproof trousers would have been better on the legs and not in the rucksack.
Although I can’t rally say much, given the state of my waterproof trousers and boots!
We were very glad to get home and get the muddy boots and clothes off.
It was an enjoyable walk and I would do it again, although probably in the Summer, when the fields are drier or avoid the last farm.
We certainly had the best of the day from a weather perspective.
Any ideas how we clean the boots and trousers? @CountryWalking Mag ??
Until next time.