No.5: Cannock Chase

This week I was offered some ‘top up’ work by my amazing sister that I couldn’t turn down. So, once again, I flipped my plans around and packed a bag for Birmingham (well… Walsall).

The whole point of these trips is to challenge myself within my means. I’m not well off enough to do 52Reflect without sacrificing in other parts of my life.

Example – I just looked through my November 2017 bank statement, and I can see that I spent almost £300 on drinking! So drinking is out if I want to succeed with this project.

This means that I am sober… Constantly… Constantly sober… In London… For a year. Sacrifice.

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Cannock chase is about 148 miles from London and, more importantly, 20 minutes from where I was working this weekend.

It sits between Cannock, Lichfield, Rugely and Stafford. Cannock Chase has everything from walkways to mountain bike tracks that take you through woodland, heathland and even past the remnants of mines and other bits of decayed industry.

I was tight for time this week, tearing out of work commitments as soon as I could at 12.30pm and putting my foot down in the car so that I could get a good two hours of walking in before the three hour drive home.

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After last weeks blister fiasco, my right foot had healed up completely, but my left heel was still missing skin and pretty raw, so the first twenty minutes were a bit ‘hobble-y’. I was disappointed at the number of people who were there for a casual stroll around the main walkway with their takeaway coffee cups because I was hoping for a bit of seclusion.

At the first opportunity, I walked off the path and straight through a thick patch of fir trees, bringing me out into a more beautiful and unoccupied area with smaller paths.

Spitting out bits of fir tree, I decided to take one of these paths, until it became apparent that I was walking up a very busy mountain bike trail. It turns out the same contempt that exists between different transports in London at rush hour, also exists in this picturesque national park and after being sworn at a few times, I took a boggy right hand turn and headed off in search of peace and quiet…

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Which I was lucky enough to find in this amazing patch of heathland. I didn’t waste any time heading onto the heath and away from the mountain bikers.

I pushed on down to the tree line and was able to sit and enjoy the views over the park undisturbed, while I chomped on the complimentary biscuits I stole from that mornings meeting (sorry) and cracked open the thermos for a cup of tea. There was the light hum of the M6 coming from somewhere (probably the M6) but I didn’t care – it was a treat to stop and be still for 10 minutes, undisturbed in nature.

After this, I had to head back to the car – it was a short lived adventure – but worth it.

And although I didn’t find any evidence of mining, I did stumble on a relic of local industry in the woodland…

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Only 330 days until I can start drinking again…



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