Wednesday 25th September Penkridge to Abbots Bromley

Distance walked: today 18.6 miles cumulative 579 miles

A dull but dry start to the day. All of today’s walk was along The Staffordshire Way. I followed the towpath of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal which passes behind the backs of houses. There are some vicious looking birds here fortunately this one couldn’t fly across the fence.

The canal soon enters countryside. I watched one couple negotiate a lock, it looks like hard work! I chatted to a man walking the towpath. We talked about the route I had taken and he is going to try to find the blog and make a donation to CF. Many thanks.

Verbal consent obtained for photograph

The canal passed under the M6 and I crossed the canal by a lock keepers cottage

Today I continued along the Staffordshire Way all day. This was well signposted with the logo being the Staffordshire knot

The origin of the symbol is unknown but there are a couple of good legends:

The most grisly concerns an executioner who had three criminals to hang but only one length of rope. By using the knot he made three loops and hanged all three at the same time.

A more romantic tale concerns Ethelfielda, the daughter of Alfred the Great. She was defending Stafford and brought the lords of the three local areas together. She took off her girdle and tied the knot saying “with this girdle I bind us all as one”

This latter story also gives rise to the county motto “the knot unites”, please read the motto carefully, I took great care typing it correctly. It is only a single overhand knot so my surgical friends may prefer “the knot unties” as I would not trust it to ligate a blood vessel (a “surgeons knot” has at least three alternating throws).

The way left the canal and passed through farmland to Cannock Chase this is a beautiful area of mixed scrubland and woodland

Morning dew on cobwebs in the gorse was most attractive

The Way leaves Cannock Chase to enter the grounds of Shugborough Hall. It was built by Willian Anson. There is an interesting display of artefacts collected on his travels as well as an account of his brothers career as a privateer, a bit of a dubious character if you ask me. There is an interesting display of contemporary farming in the Park Farm.Patrick Litchfield lived here.

I left Shugborough by crossing Essex bridge, the longest remaining packhorse bridge in the country

this led to the Mersey and Trent canal. The two canals I walked along today join just north of here and link the Severn, Mersey and Trent rivers. These were extremely important economically before the railways, hence the wealth of some of the towns and cities that I have passed through since Gloucester.

the canal passes alongside the river Trent, just separated by a bank in places.

the last few miles of the walk were through Staffordshire farmland to Abbots Bromley.