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Pedal Power by Nick Veasey
  • Annette Culshaw

Lejog Day 12: A day to forget...

Updated: Jan 6

September 18th 2018


A very short blog tonight. It is 10.00pm now and I am struggling to stay awake. We covered only 24 miles today but it took us over 7 hours to do so.


Storm Helene struck this morning with winds of 34 -40mph happening around us. Far too dangerous to cycle in these winds so we decided to stay at the hotel and to try and re-route our course to avoid the ghastly canal paths. We soon realised that this was not going to be possible. There are no alternative minor roads and any re-route would take us on to really dangerous A roads at best or motorways!!!.


At about 11.30 the weather improved so we decided to set off, aiming for Stoke on Trent, about 30 miles away. Seven hours later we had covered only 24 miles!!! It was sheer hell. The cycle trails had diversions all over the place for bridge renewal works. The canal paths were nothing but a joke. No solid surfaces at all, but 3-4inch wide ruts at best. At worse, just thick humpy and hillock mounds of grass often only a couple of inches away from the water. We had to walk for most of the canals. The tow paths are bone shudderingly vile. Every part of our bodies were shaken to pieces. In parts they are thick, sliding mud, They are fatigueing, demoralising and often downright dangerous. The canal boats travelling at about 4mph were passing us by. So bad was the track that we had to walk and push the bikes for four and a half miles.


I really do not believe that whoever devised this course in the first place has ever ridden it!!


The one highlight of the day was our coffee stop on the South Staffordshire Railway cycle path...


Cupcake Lane on the long cycle route of the old railway tracks



This was as good as it gets on the Shropshire Union Canal. No more than 4in wide at this point. Later it disapeared altogether and the space between the path and the water was no more than six inches.

The towpath!!! Arrgghh

As the weather got worse in the afternoon, high winds and rain, we had been on the 'road' (if only!) for many hours, getting nowhere. We decided to call it a day at Stafford. No way were we going to get to Stoke, our intended destination much before 7.00pm.


We arrive in Stafford, and guess what.... every pub/hotel in town was fully booked. No room at the inn. We tried five places to no avail. Eventualy we found a room at a Best Western some way out of town. It is really stressful when you think there maybe nowhere to sleep, and even more stressful to try and navigate to the hotels using only a phone and Google maps! However, the staff were lovely and helpful. They let us store our cycles in our room.


So, tonight, tired out and very demoralised we are wondering why on earth we are doing this, and we think of Nick and it all becomes worthwhile again.


Tomorrow and for the next few days we have even more bloody canal paths to endure,


One lovely scene from today...



A lovely scene just approaching Stafford

It has been noticeable today that on our route from Lands End we have not felt edgy at all. Today, cycling through Stafford and underneath the canal bridges we felt apprehensive. Under each bridge is broken glass, litter, beer cans and used needles. The midlands feel so very different from the home counties.


Got to go to sleep now. will input maps etc tomorrow.

Bob has been snoring for the last hour!!




Rather than show elevation today, I thought it might be useful to show our speed. You can see how much time we spent on the canals and cycletracks going so slowly.

Day’s Mileage: 24.76m Total mileage to date: 403.03m

Day’s climbing: 502ft Total climbing to date 18,572ft


Good night my friends

xx

Annette











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