End to End. The last Chapter.

Date walked: 10/07/2019

Time taken: 8 days

Distance: 211km

And now the end is near and so we faced the final curtain....you know how it goes :wink:. Yes we've now walked each and every highway from Lands End to John O'Groats ( well not exactly every highway but you get the gist). Traversing in total over 1450 miles or 2330Km and seen some pretty amazing sights.
The last section was completed in Sep.2018 when we walked from Madeley (near Telford) to Chepstow a distance of about 211km and this report covers that walk, so without further ado let's get on with it.

Day 1. Madeley to Much Wenlock. 11km.

We only walked for a few km today for a very good reason. Firstly we had to park the car at Chepstow Train Station and then catch the train to Telford and then the bus to Madeley before we could begin our walk.
It was nearly 2pm when we finally stepped off the bus at Madeley . Being a wee bit hungry we bought a bag of chips from the local chippy and sat on a bench along the road devouring them and washing them down with a cup of coffee, and then we were off.
It was quite easy going and before long we arrived at Iron Bridge, but much to my annoyance the historic bridge was covered over for repairs, so therefore no photo. We carried on over Benthall Edge continuing on The Shropshire Way until Much Wenlock where we stayed at The Wash House Band B for the night.
Madeley after chips.
Shropshire Way, 2 miles from Much Wenlock.

Day 2. Much Wenlock to Church Stretton. 22Km.

Woke up to heavy rain ( not exactly what we wanted ) and so after a hearty breakfast we set off in our wet weather gear. We left town and took The Jack Mytton Way through Blakewell Coppice heading down passed Ippikin and Easthope Wood. The trees in the woods gave us a certain amount of protection from the rain but occasionally we were showered by water falling from the overhanging branches. We were a bit perplexed as to why this should be happening, until Arlene noticed the reason....Grey Squirrels, they seemed to be everywhere scampering high above us. I have to say at this point that we have walked all over many parts of Britain but never had we seen so many Grey Squirrels as we did in Shropshire and Herefordshire ( I think we may have lost the battle to reduce their numbers), but they were a pleasant diversion.
We came out of the woods at a place called Longville in the Dale, where the rain continued to drizzle, and took refuge in a bus shelter for had a few bickies and a cup of tea. Oh the number of bus shelters, ( often positioned in out of the way tiny hamlets), we've sat in for a bit of comfort over the years. Unused ones with brambles and nettles growing in them accompanied by huge spider webs in every nook and cranny, to the very smart and tidy ones that are stocked with shelves of books and with posters covering every space, advertising local events. Never, I repeat, never underestimate the power of a bus shelter to revive the spirits and to save you from a soaking.
The rain actually stopped while we were in the shelter, so it was off with the wet weather gear and on to Cardington along a small road. To our surprise an old, what appeared to be, run down building turned out to be The Royal Oak pub and it was open ( now there's a novelty) so it was in for a quick drink, we were taking our time after all.
From Cardington it was on to Willstone to encounter some fantastic scenery passing Caer Caradoc Hill with it's ancient fort and Three Fingers Rock. It was on this section that I lost Arlene for about 15mins, I stopped for a wee and she carried on. I then raced to catch her up, only to fly passed her as she too had gone into the bushes for a wee and I didn't her call. I just kept going faster and faster thinking, " Boy she must be moving", before realising she must be behind, and stopped to let her catch me up knowing what was coming. When she did appear she said something that most of us have heard on occasion from our better half , " You just don't listen, do you". I said no ( always the wisest course and then we carried on over Hemleth Hill into Church Stretton. Took a bit of time to find our BandB as it has two names, the name we had been given was of course the one half covered in Ivy on a tiny board. Nice town with some good restaurants.
Damp start from Much Wenlock.
15th C. Royal Oak at Cardington.
Shropshire countryside.
Caer Caradoc behind us.

Day 3. Church Stretton to Ludlow.35km.

Left Church Stretton passed Hope Boulder on to Wolverton Wood and through Seifton Batch, the weather was overcast but warm just how we like it. We did a fair bit of road walking but rather than walking past Culmington, I decided to go into the village to see if it had a shop ( chocolate and cakes were the reason). But it wasn't to be so we went and sat on a bench in the graveyard of the 11c Anglo Saxon All Saints Church and had lunch, ( nice Saxon arch).
Once we had consume our victuals we set off across fields to Bache taking the small road to Verholds Common passed Ayntree to Ludlow RaceCourse…….. It's funny how you notice things...... as we strode down the road to Ludlow we noticed that all the field gates we passed were made by Richie's of Forfar...…. their factory's just a few minutes from our house....small world.
The first thing that you see when you look toward Ludlow is the magnificent Castle standing high above the river Teme and the Church of St Laurence, both having their origins nearly a thousand years ago. A wonderful place to visit.
We skirted the racecourse and walked to our digs in town. Our digs...well my mother once told me ..if you can't think of anything good to say about a person or place don't bother, so enough said. But there is a Wetherspoon in Ludlow and we both enjoyed some grub and a couple of beers.
Sky to walk under.
All Saints 11th/14th/20th Cen. Church
Ludlow Castle.

Day 4. Ludlow to Leominster. 23km.

After breakfast at Wetherspoons we set off in blazing sunshine crossing the River Teme and joining The Mortimer Trail down into the Mary Knoll Valley. After a mile or two we took a track towards Batchcott and then followed the road to Richards Castle occasionally looking back across to Titterstone Clee Hill once the site of an old British hill fort but now topped by a Radar Station... oh well time moves on.
Form Richards Castle we took The Herefordshire Trail and from the moment we were on it we begun eating of the fruits of the county. We must have eaten pounds of blackberries and damsons from the hedgerows not to mention quite a few apples and pears ( although more often than not the apples were a little tart). There seem to be hazel nuts in abundance and a stone always came in handy. We did stroll passed a number of Walnut and Sweet Chestnut trees laden with their produce but it was still too early in the season for them to be at their best, so we just admired them.
I never realised just how many apple orchards for cider making there were in Herefordshire, I had always assumed that Somerset or Devon were the main cider producers. But we have never walked passed so many apple orchards in my entire life as we did in Herefordshire with many of the trees a haven for Mistletoe. ( I got tired out kissing Arlene :lol: )
We walked on passing Eye and Luston finally reaching Leominster between 4 and 5 o'clock and stayed in the Mascal Centre, very reasonably priced tidy and comfortable... can def. recommend.
Ludlow Castle from Dinham Bridge.
Titterstone Clee Hill. Ancient hill fort now Radar Station.
One of thousands of apple trees in Herefordshire. Note the Mistletoe.

Day 5. Leominster to Hereford. 25km.
Set off quite early and walked to Stoke Prior along the road and on to Risbury with it's Orchards and Iron Age Fort munching berries and nuts along the way. As with so much of a Lands End to John O'Groats journey you have to plan your route and although it definitely helps having Trails and Ways i.e West Highland Way, Pennine Way etc. there are times when you just have to look at the map and create your own route. By doing that you are basically creating something unique which you can alter at a moments notice, YOUR WALK rather than sticking to a route taken from a book that possibly hundreds of people have done before. But hey that's just my view, and probably why our 1440 miles seems a tad long , but we are only going to do this once and it's not a race. So take your time, meander, tarry a while and soak in the best that Britain has to offer. Now back to the walk.
We found a lovely Pub. in a place called Sutton St Nicholas where they served delicious fish and chips ( pensioners price of course, I am an old geezer after all) :roll: . We left the road just after St Nic. taking a small path across fields, streams and a railway line to Lyde Cross. It was here that I scoffed myself, eating far too many damsons and reaping their effects later that evening … I think it's known as the collywobbles :shock:
Before we got to Lyde Cross the path disappeared as we were confronted with a field of maize probably 8ft high, so we had to skirt around the field but still had to, on occasion, fight our way through. Once through the maize we made our way to Hereford to spend the night at a Travelodge.
Fruits of the hedgerow.
Between Wergins Bridge and Lyde Cross.
Through the maize maze. Lyde Cross.

Day 6. Hereford to Ross-on-Wye. 25m.

After a light breakfast we headed off out of Hereford along the B4224 toward Mordiford passing Hampton Bishop where the composer Elgar wrote a number of works. After crossing the old bridge over The Lugg we strolled into Mordiford for a coffee in The Holy Rood churchyard. After coffee we joined the Wye Valley walk at Hope Springs enjoying the fine countryside to be found there. When we reached Upper Buckenhill we took the road to Stocking hoping for a meal at the Hotel near Crossway. But alas it was not to be and so we continued on until we came to Perrystone turning off onto the path to Hole-in-the-Wall passing Brampton Abbotts and into Ross-on-Wye.
Coffee stop at Mordiford.
Saxon Arch. Mordiford Church.
Hugging an Oak near Perrystone. 500 to 600 years old.

Day7. Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth. 35km.

A dampish start so decided to take the B4234 to the Kerne Bridge over The Wye. It was okay, safe and easy going because of the amount of pavement along the road. We crossed the Kerne bridge with views of Goodrich castle above us and followed the river as it wound it's way through the valley. The idea was to follow the path and recross the river near Welsh Bicknor to make our way to Highmeadow Woods and on to Monmouth. But the bridge was out for repairs and there was nowhere to cross, so it was just a matter of having to continue following the river til we could cross the road bridge south of Goodrich. If I had known the bridge at Welsh Bicknor was out we would have taken the direct route from Kerne Bridge and saved ourselves 5miles … but we did enjoy walking by the river with it's Flora and Fauna.
We met up with The Wye Valley Walk at Huntsham and wandered down to the ferry near Symond's Yat where we took advantage of one of the numerous café/restaurants for a delicious cream tea ( oh we do love a cream tea,nothing better. Not quite found The Holy Grail of cream teas but pretty close).
Followed The Way til we came to The Biblins where we crossed The Wye meandering passed King Arthur's Cave and on to Monmouth. The rain began to fall about a mile from Monmouth so it was nice to get into our room at the Travelodge.
17th Cen. Market House, Ross-on-Wye.
Coldwell Rocks . The Wye.
Bridge over Wye near The Biblins.

Day 8. Monmouth to Chepstow. 35km.

Today we would be walking The Offa's Dyke Path all the way to Chepstow and we were really looking forward to it. So we set off from Monmouth, crossed The Wye ( again ) making for Kymin and on to the Naval Temple on top of the hill.
The grey squirrels were out in force today and I even saw a wild boar as it dashed across the path in front of me as we begun to climb up to the Naval .Temple.
The Offa's Dyke Path runs almost parallel with the river but does have a habit of continually rising and falling, one moment giving you great views of the Wye Valley below and the next of the Valley looking up.
We stopped at Redbrook for a coffee, plus cakes that Arlene had bought from the village shop, and then carried on up and down the Valley taking in the fine views, such as that of the ruins of Tintern Abbey from The Devil's Pulpit.
By the time we reached Tutshill the sun began to shine and after crossing the Wye while admiring the old Norman Castle we meandered our way through the streets of Chepstow back to our car that was waiting for us in the Train Station car park ( always a relief to see the car).
The Monnow Bridge. Only surviving gatehouse bride in Britain. Circa 1270.
Nearly at the Naval Temple.
Looking back to Lower Redbrook.
Chepstow Castle. 1070. Oldest post Roman Castle in Britain.

So now we had completed our walk, the length of Britain and felt quite ecstatic and satisfied. Below is a list of the Ways and Trails ( or do I mean Trials :lol: :lol: ) we walked.
From Lands End... The South West Coast Path, West Mendip Way, Monarch's Way, Severn Way, Welsh Coastal Path, Offa's Dyke, Wye Valley Walk, The Herfordshire Trail, Three Rivers Ride, Mortimer's Trail, The Jack Mytton Way, The Shropshire Way, Monarch's Way ( Telford ), The Staffordshire Way, The Way for the Millennium, The Limestone Way, Derwent Valley Heritage Way, The Pennine Way, St Cuthbert's Way, Southern Uplands Way, Cross Borders Drove Road, Union Canal, John Muir Way, Forth and Clyde Canal, Kelvin Walkway, West Highland Way, Great Glen Way.

Obviously I didn't need to walk the full length of each of the above (with the exception of Pennine Way, West Highland Way, Great Glen Way) on our walk. We just tried to join up the relevant parts. From Inverness to Watten and John O'Groats is on a report on this site. It's just a case of walking and joining up major routes by OS paths and minor roads if possible , so a bit of planning required.
Sometimes have taken a GPS but always take a compass and maps.. essential equipment so you always know where you are.

Ps. Should be oldest example of gatehouse bridge not bride :roll: Plus date walked should be Sep.2018.

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Location: Forfar
Interests: Walking/backpacking, Swimming, Dancing , Theatre, Fishing.
Activity: Mountaineer
Pub: too many to mention
Place: Fort William
Gear: walking poles
Ideal day out: any walk with good views either up or down

Munros: 13
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Donalds: 2
Wainwrights: 9
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Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Cateran Trail    Fife Coastal Path    Forth & Clyde and Union canal towpath    Great Glen Way    St Cuthbert's Way    West Island Way   

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