Day 23

Kidderminster to Wolverhampton – 21.9 miles (370.2 total)

Early morning Kidderminster

Because I arrived by canal and left by canal and our hotel was right beside the canal I didn’t see enough to give a fair appraisal of Kidderminster. It may be a picturesque town but it was hidden from me. What I am noticing is how the West-Country accent has completely disappeared and the very distinctive West Midlands accent is now universal.

Today’s walk was the third of four testing days in a row. Followers of the blog, who have access to my spreadsheet schedule, will have noticed that the mileage walked each day is consistently higher than planned. Even when I plot the day’s route as meticulously as possible, I am still walking more than I had hoped. On average I guess the difference is maybe 7 or 8%. For the last few days it has been nearer to 10%. Today’s mileage wasn’t helped by John booking us into a hotel nowhere near the walk.

Trevor and John

The slight chill of a 9am start very quickly changed into another hot sunny day. The temperature high was 19°C which was a godsend after yesterday’s stifling heat. Trevor joined us at the start and the three of us walked the 7 miles to Kinver, still following the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal. At this point John and Trevor peeled off for a break as they were not planning to walk as far as me. I followed the canal past Stourton Junction heading for Hinksford and Swindon.

Near Wombourne I passed another regiment of canal anglers, each sitting immobile, with vast arrays of different baits, in search of these elusive fish that I have never once seen being caught. I tried talking to the first statue I passed, the sole response being a couple of grunts. ‘ He must be the life and soul of the staff Christmas party ’ , I thought, as I moved on, ignoring the rest of them.

About 200 yards further on, just after a bridge, I saw a gran with, I reckoned, her granddaughter, who had the most beautiful shoulder-length, red hair, maybe about six years old. The girl was throwing pieces of bread into the canal excitedly. ‘ Are you feeding the ducks? ’ , I asked as I passed. ‘ No ’, the older woman replied, ‘ You should see the fish coming to the surface for the bread, they’re huge. I’ve lived here for 44 years and never seen them this big ’. I then told her about the anglers, sitting just a short distance back, not catching anything. ‘ Maybe I should tell them to move up here ’, she said. ‘ Don’t you dare ’, I said firmly, and moved on.

Just before exiting Wombourne I left the canal towpath, following the Monarch’s Way, to link up with a cycle route, which followed the course of an old railway, towards Wolverhampton. I then left at Castlecroft to walk into the city centre.

The Railway Walk

Yet again, it ended up a long day, and I was very thirsty and tired when I eventually finished.