I previously wrote about a walk I took with my family(“Right On Your Doorstep“) which I have been thinking about lately. How I can extend the walk so we can get the most out of the countryside and keep the exploring alive for my children and I. So I opened up Google Maps and tracked the route I’d taken previously. As I tracked to the end of the route I saw another route open up leading me straight back home. The distance in total was a 9.7 miles and most importantly, we passed pubs at the start and end of the route. This means I could do the route in reverse and still reward myself with a roast lunch and a pint of Guinness (maybe two pints).
Knowing I couldn’t do the walk for a while due to other commitments I sat on the route trying not to think about it and started watching YouTube. The channel I seem to always gravitate to is the outdoor gear review and if you haven’t seen this guy yet then I suggest you do ( TheOutdoorGearReview ). This guy is reviewing gear, giving out tips and talking from the heart. Well I digress. YouTube is my diversion, a fix if you will to deal with not going camping or taking long walks. On Sunday, the itch to go was too much and an opportunity arose. Kate was taking my son to a party. I had a few hours and my youngest daughter was ready to tag along and go for a reduced walk along a section of the route. We decided to take the last section of the walk with the half way point leading to an old disused railway station and back again. It worked out about 6.19 miles. With backpacks on we set off.
We entered Showell Lane which is in an affluent area. Large houses lining either side of the lane with no less than four assorted cars on the driveway including an obligatory sports car. It’s a quiet location as you’d expect for this type of area. We almost feel like we are trespassing. Pushing on we leave the upper-middle class behind and head into farm land. The winding lanes are so narrow we need to be alert to any traffic. Without paths the chances of being hit by a car increase. I tell my daughter that the rule is to always walk on the incoming side of traffic. She looked puzzled. I said you can see a car approaching you on the side you’re walking on and they can see you. If one of you aren’t paying attention there’s still a chance the other person will see you. If you walk with traffic approaching from behind you have to rely on the driver seeing you. It is common sense and increases your odds. Half an hour later we are heading up Flash Lane. A lane surrounded by fields of grazing cattle, sheep and horses. It’s very quiet and the only person we see acknowledges us with a friendly hello. Further on we spot the railway bridge with a trail leading up to it. This leads us onto the South Staffordshire Railway line. Disused since 1965.
Built and owned by the Great Western Railway Company the line was completed in 1925. The service was never very successful and the passenger service ceased in 1932. It was then only used for goods and for a short period after the Normandy landings in WWII to transport allied soldiers to various hospitals in the area. The last train was on 24th June 1965 after further decline in traffic.
We enter the line at bridge 36, walking on a flat gravel track. Again we see horses grazing in the fields with the sun breaking through a cloudy sky. The trail is busy with people out for Sunday walks with their children and dogs. Soon enough we approach the Bratch Station in Wombourne. Now reused as a cafe. Unfortunately for us it has just closed for the day. So we take a break for a few minutes. We thought about travelling further off the trail to Bratch locks. Bratch meaning in old english (brēc) broken in land and was a three-step lock for canal barges built in 1772. It was later re-engineered as three locks, pump house, keeper’s cottage with two bridges. It would have been nice to see but I could tell my daughter was getting tired. So we decided it would be something to see next time and began the walk home.
The walk back home seemed harder as we now had to walk up the steep country lanes which went on and on and light was fading fast.We arrived home feeling hungry but happy. We both enjoyed it and I learnt that my daughter doesn’t stop talking for a minute but is a joy to walk with all the same. She’s keen to walk the 9.7 miles although I doubt my son will feel the same way.