Welcome to LEJoG Day 31. You might find it exciting.

Day 31 pre-amble

The Byrds sang ‘Eight Miles High’ back in the 1960s. Today’s stage was eight miles long but there was nothing high about it. Nothing low either. It was flat. Canal walks, fields that didn’t really roll, roads with barely a gradient. The weather was dull. Beyond explaining the route, there really is little to say. OK, it didn’t go on for as long as the Somerset Levels, but ‘flat’ is the operative word, in every sense.

Actually and to be fair, it was a nice enough walk, but there’s no ‘hook’ or distinguishing features to make this post particularly interesting. I’m padding it out with a reference to Marshall Cavendish’s Story Teller, for goodness sake. That tells you something.

LEJoG Day 31 (Sunday 12 August 2018)

Kidderminster to Hagley (8 miles)

Cumulative: 438½ miles

Facts: Time on walk: 2 hours 10 minutes. Average speed: 3.69 mph. Weather: Light rain and drizzle, ceasing late morning; always overcast.

Practicalities: Walked from Bewdley Hill House down the A456, over the first major roundabout and to Kidderminster Lock.

The walk

Start: Kidderminster Lock, Kidderminster, 10:10am. End: Hagley railway station, Hagley, 12:20pm.

The walk was roughly split into two halves: just over 4 miles following the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Caunsall Bridge, then just under four miles to Hagley station. The canal winds more on this stretch than it did between Stourport and Kidderminster. There were a few people on narrowboats, but not many on the towpath in poor weather. The presence of Simon Price on the CM podcast, and a canal, brought to mind this story (80s kid nostalgia alert) about a young boy who gets it into his head that a canal is a monster. I remember, aged 10, telling it second hand to two girls at school and them finding it hilarious. I think it was “his tummy felt queer and he couldn’t eat his pudding”, and “Simon knew what ‘boring’ meant. He had seen his dad boring holes.” Early signs of wordplay and verbal comedy, I suppose.

His mum tells him he doesn’t want to go to the canal, because it’s “too boring”, leading to the misunderstanding cited above. And at this point I’m supposed to go for the obvious punchline and say I know what Simon’s mum meant. Well it wasn’t that dull, but due to the rain it was certainly less pleasant than yesterday. There’s a decent-looking pub, the Lock Inn, at Wolverley Lock, and some attractive bridges. Taken in isolation it would be a nice Sunday stroll, but I can’t help comparing it to better days on LEJoG.

Just after leaving the scary canal behind, there’s a crossroads where Caunsall Road meets the A449. Here I took a footpath NE into the field (clear on today’s satellite map) and then, at the corner of the wood, continued east on another obvious path. The biggest (only?) climb of the day comes in the next wood: it’s very short and not particularly steep. The path continues east through trees until it meets Sugar Loaf Lane. Turn right here on a slight downhill. This is roughly the 6-mile point: yes you’re already three-quarters of the way home.

After passing Highdown Nursery and an entrance road on your right, bear left down another wide path. This takes you to the A451 Stourbridge – Kidderminster road. Cross and turn left, then pick up the North Worcestershire Path on your right. Keep following the path after it crosses Crown Lane. After just over half a mile heading E/ESE, there’s a sharp right hand bend and then you turn left into Brake Lane, on the western edge of Hagley. Then keep following Brake Lane for about ¾ mile until you reach the rail bridge; go down the steps and there’s Hagley station.

And… that’s it. That really is it. To be honest I fancied a short walk today and a longer one into Birmingham in a few weeks. The Clent Hills could wait for a nicer day.

After the walk

Got changed and freshened up in the station, had lunch, caught train home via Birmingham.

Postscript – My Listening Pleasure

Chart Music #28: the TOTP episode itself. The quality of songs was mediocre at best. Highlight 1 was Al coming up with the episode title (in reference to ‘Father and Son’ by Boyzone, and the conversion to Islam of the songwriter/original artist). Highlight 2 was Blur v Oasis, obviously.

An important landmark in the podcast’s history, highlight 3 was the long discussion of Michael Jackson (making his first appearance on CM as a solo artist) and the 1990s child abuse allegations. Sarah, as the youngest contributor and a huge fan of his 1980s material, came under most pressure and acquitted herself brilliantly. Their discussion predates Leaving Neverland by six months. I haven’t seen Leaving Neverland and have little to no intention of doing so. My view was firmly established in the mid-90s and would not be changed by seeing the documentary. My love for Michael Jackson’s music c. 1970-1983 wasn’t affected at the time and won’t be in future.

Highlight 4 was the post-credits story from Al. NSFW, and very much 18 certificate, where my own ‘True Story’ is probably a 15. And with that episode, I’d caught up with the podcast. Future Chart Musics would be listened to at the time of release.

Picture (from Wikipedia) shows Kidderminster Lock and St Mary and All Saints’ Church, Kidderminster, right at the start of today’s stage.

Next: Day 32 (30 August 2018)… in which the biggest city en route welcomes a former resident.

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