Monday, 15th June, Threapwood to Brocton, 25.19 miles
Today, Pat decides to join us for part of the way on her mare, Edith.
I am delighted to have the company of someone with local knowledge and blindly follow her through a farmyard deep with churned up mud and cow slurry, and into a field where we spend the next half an hour riding around the perimeter trying to find the route. By the time I had got my head around it, I realise we should have turned left after going through the farm-yard instead of right. Retracing our steps, we go through the correct gate and immediately sink into a bog. By this stage, we decide to go back to the road and stick to it to get back on track.
However, as we are going back through the farmyard, the farmer suddenly appears and Pat begins to tell him our sorry tale. Oh, he says, you can go this way, pointing to another track. Another three-quarters of an hour later, having tracked around another vast field, chest high in meadow hay, we finally find the bridlepath we are seeking only to discover it is totally impassable. So 2 hours after we begin this escapade, we are back to where we should have been if we had ignored the idea of going down this particular bridle track. No matter, we have survived and both of us manage, somehow, to keep our cool. Pat then confesses it is some while since she came this way.
Up to this point in my journey, I have not got so hopelessly lost, or wasted so much time looking for a path. I make a mental note, never to take my eye off the map! Under any circumstances.
By the time we reach Blythe, some 15 miles later, Pat is ready for a stop at the pub. The horses enjoy a break too. Somehow Tommy manages to slip his bridle over his ear.
Pat decides this is a good place for her daughter to come and pick her up with the trailer, and after a thirst quenching half of lager and the egg sandwiches we had made before we left, I say goodbye to Pat and Edith and push on. Tommy and I still have some way to go.
At Colwich, a woman offers Tommy some water and we stop for a chat. Then once we are safely over the main road, we start to enter the Cannock Chase Country Park and enjoy a beautiful evening ride through the park, accompanied by the midges. The first we have come across so far, and realise we have now entered the fly season as I can feel Tommy twitching and swishing his tail as he tries to get rid of them on his skin.
Here we are crossing the ford where Tommy takes a well earned drink,
before heading up Coppice Hill and into the nether regions of Brocton where we track our way gingerly along the main road to find Lesley and Chris’s place, and sanctuary at last. Inspecting Tommy’s sores, I’m happy to say they aren’t any worse but I’m still concerned and Wendy (who owns Tommy’s lookalike behind Tommy here)
offers some soothing Aloe Vera treatment. After 10.5 hours in the saddle today, and our longest ride to date, I have to admit, I am sore too!