Welcome to LEJoG Day 30 (Every single one’s got a story to tell)

Day 30 pre-amble

Approximately two thirds of today’s walk was spent on the Severn Way. The sun shone brightly. The weather could be described as balmy. And uneven application of sun cream can leave you with white stripes.

LEJoG Day 30 (Saturday 11 August 2018)

Worcester to Kidderminster (18 miles)

Cumulative: 430½ miles

Facts: Time on walk: 5 hours. Average speed: 3.60 mph. Weather: Started bright and warm, then overcast for most of the afternoon. Using some sneaky poetic licence for that post title. Soz.

Practicalities: A Saturday morning train to Worcester Foregate Street and a short walk to the far side of the Severn Bridge.

Maps used today and tomorrow: OS Explorer 204 (Worcester and Drpitwich Spa) and 219 (Wolverhampton and Dudley, south sheet)

The walk

Start: Severn Bridge (west side), Worcester, 10:55am. End: Kidderminster Lock, A456 bridge, Kidderminster, 4:35pm.

The route for the first two thirds of Day 30 could hardly be easier to follow. The Severn Way: river on your right. To begin with, follow the signs on Hylton Road, then branch right on the footpath shortly after Worcester Racecourse appears on the opposite bank. This leads to the riverside, which you now stick close to for the foreseeable. Occasionally you head inland to go around a building, e.g. Camp House Inn. There is quite a long stretch in the woods to the east of Hallow Recycling Centre, but otherwise it’s all very Wind in the Willows. I played Mole in Toad of Toad Hall at school – did I ever mention that? Suffice to say it was typecasting par excellence.

I didn’t see many people on this part of the walk, perhaps surprisingly. A large family near Bevere Island was as busy as it got. Not far north of there (about 4½ miles into the walk), the Severn Way suddenly abandons the riverside and heads more or less directly for the Holt Fleet Bridge, where the river runs under the A4133. Active route finding again; what a drag after the riverside.

The work isn’t that hard though, and the distance to the bridge is only approximately 2½ miles. First head for the Wagon Wheel Inn, then follow waymarks towards Wildgoose Rural Training. From here there is a dead straight path north: at the end take a right and then a quick left to continue north. You will now pass through an industrial estate and past a caravan site. A wide track takes you into Holt village. Pass the church and head NW on a road heading directly for the bridge.

I say directly. According to both my OS map and the linked satellite map, immediately after a left hand bend the Severn Way takes you straight on through woods, coming out in the grounds of the Holt Fleet restaurant. However, I tried this route and found no way through the overgrown bushes. The waymarks disappeared and I turned round and used the road – back to the bend, turn right, then right again on the A4133 as far as Holt Fleet Bridge. It wasn’t ideal: the pavement was narrow, particularly on the bridge itself. Perhaps you’ll have more luck with the woods than I did. Stopped for lunch at Holt Lock, a couple of hundred metres upriver from the bridge.

And now we’re very close to the riverside (on your left for a change) all the way to Stourport-on-Severn. There are no other crossings between Holt and Stourport: it’s do or die. OK, it was overcast, but after some of the tough days experienced so far, no-one with a soul can complain about 4-5 miles in lovely, pastoral surroundings with no climbing and almost no need to glance at a map. Again you head inland a couple of times, albeit very briefly. As you approach Stourport, there’s a short wooded section, followed by a path next to the Cider Mill and a couple of footbridges. Then you pass Stourport Marina on your right, followed shortly by Severnside Holiday Park.

I had to leave the Severn at the first bridge in Stourport, in search of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The final approach to Stourport was perhaps the highlight of today’s walk. The annual Stourport Regatta and Sprint was in full swing, which meant large and enthusiastic crowds in the seating opposite, and plenty of interested patrons in and around the Angel Inn on the east bank. It was a near-idyllic scene, and I say this in spite of having little interest in rowing (outside the Olympics) or canal towns. I stayed to spectate for 15 minutes, and fancied a beer from the Angel until I saw just how crowded it was at the bar. Rucksacks would have been about as popular as they are on the London Underground in rush hour.

A ten-minute walk along the High Street and A451 enables you to join the Staffs and Worcs canal near Mitton Chapel, and this waterway is your companion for the rest of the journey to Kidderminster. My satellite map names the canal as the River Stour, by the way: please note that the canal is the waterway closer to the A451 heading north, as proven by the above link to the S&WC website.

Canal walks are something I’ve done plenty of in Derbyshire, so there were no surprises or revelations here. I guess I might have taken them for granted in the past though. Today I was struck by the variations in such a short section of the LEJoG walk: in the three days since Ledbury there had been woods, a deer park, the Malvern Hills, a long road stretch, open fields, a cathedral city and then 18 miles by rivers and canals. Even without the drama of the coast path or the Lake District, it was compelling evidence that we live in a wonderful country, you know.

I considered ending my walk for the day at the Watermill pub and restaurant, near Round Hill Bridge and a major roundabout. Very hungry, and it was the closest point on the canal to my accommodation. But something pushed me on another mile to Kidderminster Lock, next to the A456: a very familiar road name indeed for anyone who’s ever socialised on Broad Street, Birmingham.

After the walk

Decided to eat at the Watermill and walked back there. Very good meal I thought. The clouds finally broke as I was sitting outside choosing my food. Walked from there to my B&B at Bewdley Hill House in light rain and drizzle. This is the third 10/10 (and second in three days) on LEJoG. It’s further off my route than anywhere I’ve stayed since using buses on the SWCP, unless you count Chew Magna and Worcester, where I never booked anything. But really, an extra mile in the evening and morning barely makes a ripple in your itinerary.

Don’t remember a lot about the evening, apart from rain and Casualty (!). Saved the rest of Chart Music #28 (below) for tomorrow.

Postscript – My Listening Pleasure

Started listening to Chart Music #28 just as the Severn Way headed away from the river towards Holt. Lots of preliminary chat about Britpop’s commercial peak, Simon Price and Romo and Al’s work in the porn industry. The real highlights of the episode come tomorrow. My phone battery expired shortly after lunch, which is also why I took no photos of Stourport Regatta.

Picture (in lieu of my own, from Stourport Boat Club) shows a scene from the 2014 Stourport Regatta and Sprint.

Next: Day 31 (12 August 2018)… in which… er… no, can’t think of anything enticing.

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