An evening of heavy snow saw me feeling very optimistic about having a great day today. Although I wasn’t surrounded by the white fields that I had hoped for I did get clear skies, views for miles, and some great photographs. The pictures taken today kick the butt off of anything that I have taken previously, so I guess I must be getting used to using the filters.
I didn’t set off from Walsall till about 11:00, having to get to my Gran’s to pick the car up from last night. There was still a good couple of inches of snow on the ground at this point, so I decided to take my axe to pose with! I set off for the M6, immediately getting lost and driving around Bloxwich for a period of time. It didn’t take a massive amount of time until I was on the motorway heading South. I was quite bemused as I went past the hill I had previously assumed to be Clent and had a view of from my old office at Merry Hill. On checking the map it transpires that this is in fact Turner’s Hill.
I parked up by a mass of other cars by the visitor centre at Nimings Wood. I couldn’t place myself on the map (even with the help of the map at the Visitor centre). A kind gentleman told me I was at the car park about half a km down the road from where I actually was. This didn’t help, as my navigation while driving is absolutely awful. I placed myself eventually by examining the T-Junction by where I had parked.
I set off from the visitor centre at Nimings Wood, heading straight up the tourist trek on Clent Hill and following it up zig-zags that wouldn’t look amiss on the Ben. I came to a viewpoint from where I took some initial photographs to the West and North, with the features marked on various stones. I proceeded onwards, eventually coming to the four stones monument. I didn’t photograph the circle as there were about thirty people in the middle of it, and I had just spotted my objective for the day – Walton Hill.
Eventually the map began to make sense. I now rescind all previous assertions that 1:50k maps suffice outside of mountain regions, because mine was crap today..or was it me!!!
I was a little disappointed not to see any snow at all, and perhaps looked a little silly with my axe on the back of my sac. It was actually very slippery in the areas that had not been exposed to the sun, and I was glad to be wearing a ‘proper’ pair of boots. I descended off Clent Hill, gaining the road by the entrance to the visitor centre.
I steamed back down the road that I had followed everybody else up, past the car, and to the T-Junction at the end of the road. Examining the road signs I was able to place myself properly on the map for the first time. On my return I noticed that my car was only parked about 10m from this junction. I can’t have been looking forwards when I arrived.
I turned right at the junction, and then left after about 100m, walking through an absolutely massive car park, and then picking up the track to the right that was to take me up on to Walton Hill.
On entering the woodland there were two choices of routes up the hill, you could either take a treacherous looking set of steps up the hillside, or a winding path. I absolutely hate steps so took the winding path. After about 100m I realised that I have winding paths too, and promptly forced a route through some trees and then up the open hillside. On gaining the top I experienced my only moment of solitude of the day before several people came into view once more. I was quite surprised by how busy it was up there, ‘spose everybody is on hols at the moment.
Despite the numbers on top it was a very pleasant walk along the hill. The skies were clear and blue, it was quite cool, the kind of day that you absolutely love, but never get. I soon found the trig point of the highest hill, 315m, in the West Midlands, and duly said hello to Marilyn.
I had intended to persist as far as Calcot Hill, and set off in that direction. Momentarily losing attention I followed the path that forked off to the right. I soon realised that I had lost too much height, and backtracked up to the joining of the paths. I was in two minds at this point as to if I should go on to Calcot Hill, but eventually decided to do so.
I followed the track until I came to Daleswood farm. I soon spotted the public footpath skirting to the left of the farm, passing the turnstile, and a second after another 100m. This put me out in to the open fields, and I saw my only snow of the day at this point. I came to a track that clearly regained height to Calcot Hill which was about 10m higher than where I was stood. There was a gate up on to the next field, and a couple of horses in the way. They looked a bit bigger than me, and I didn’t have my Trangia with me to cook them on, so decided that I really couldn’t be bothered walking between them, and turned back.
I retraced my steps back on to Walton Hill, which is something that I don’t like doing, I much prefer circular routes. I descended via the treacherous looking staircase that I mentioned earlier, following behind a family that I caught up with in no time at all. Regaining the road I raced back to the car for a cuppa. It was at this point that I realised exactly how much washing up liquid was in the tea….eurggh!!!!