Six members and six guests left behind sunny Kidsgrove and headed up into the Staffordshire Moorlands to Oakamoor to begin the monthly walk.
The Lord Nelson does not normally open for lunch in the winter months, except by prior arrangement and then only for parties of at least eight. So having pre-booked we parked there and set off to return later for lunch.
After the recent dull gloomy days it was marvellous to be out in the bright sunshine under clear blue skies albeit a little on the cool side, however that did not stop Chris from wearing his shorts. Perfect walking weather.
Carefully crossing the ice covered bridge to the picnic site we soon picked up the disused railway line that now continues to Alton and beyond, despite the recent wet weather the paths were mainly good and very quiet with only the occasional dog walker to greet us on our way. A far different place than in summer when the sound of Alton Towers and the accompanying screams fill the air.
This is a continuation of the Churnet Valley but here it is totally different to the Cheddleton side and is more akin to the everglades with large areas of standing water either side of the path with decaying logs and other vegetation. The only sounds were the occasional songbird and the whoosh of wings from disturbed herons, did we see three or was it the same one three times?
Presently we came to Alton Station, now holiday accommodation and continued on to where our route leaves the track, (where we had a coffee break), heading across the bridge uphill then turning right to join a driveway and the Alton Road.
Crossing this to join Red Road leading us to The Ramblers Retreat where despite the temptation we headed off the road and through the trees to rejoin our route back to the Lord Nelson.
A warm welcome greeted us with a log fire to take away any winter chills, having said that we were all soon taking layers off and Chris (legs) could not help but warm his extremities in front of the fire. The food was soon served and despatched, with four of our group even having Syrup Sponge Pudding with Custard, although “legs” still thinking it is summer had ice cream with his.
A jolly lunch was enjoyed by all, finally heading home at 3:00pm.