Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Oxford to Bridgnorth to Stow

Well, I made it. Set out from Oxford on Tuesday 17th March 2009 after leading a group on a city tour. Changed from my touring clothes to walking clothes and caught the Woverhampton train, there I boarded a bus to Bridgnorth.

Arrived in the town where Sir Jacob Astley assembled the 3,000 troops that he marched toward Oxford (though I suspect that some joined at Worcester) at about 3 pm. It's a nice place. Interestingly there is a lower part (where the Severn bridge lies) and an upper part (where the castle and older buildings exist). I asked at the TIC if there were any buildings dating from the civil war and was given a pamphlet which was of passing interest but didn't mention Astley and told of a church which had displayed a civil war sword which had been stolen some years ago!

I viewed the impressively leaning keep, the town hall (see photo) and the old castle gardens then descended to the river on the 'exciting' funicular railway. I found the Severn Way easily enough and began walking, soon convincing myself that this must have been the route taken by the troops - steep cliffs on my right, the river on the left, the way fairly flat.

I reached Hampton as darkness fell, pitched my tent and spent the evening in an incredibly friendly pub called the Unicorn: good beer, good food, good company - perfect. Then out into the cold tent. And boy was it cold. My sleeping bag was useless. The only good thing to be said for it was that it rolled up into a very small bag. The label said that it could be used at extreme temperatures - perhaps if I had lit the thing I would have got some warmth! And I was fast developing cold symptoms.

And that became the theme of my march. Having a cold, being cold. Having sore feet and aching shoulders from carrying the 30lb backpack. Perhaps those soldiers of 363 years ago felt the same. Still I got to the battlefield on time, on date.

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