Day 9 – Swarkestone Bridge to Sawley

Miles: About 10

Weather: Glorious, 26degC and not a cloud in the sky!

We had an excellent night’s sleep on Bridge Farm’s very comfy bed. Then had an excellent breakfast, with proper (Yorkshire) tea. (Our tea obssession continues unabated). Hallelujah. It was our best cup of tea so far. What better start to the day?

We faffed about putting up blogposts and the like until 10.30am, then set off in the blazing sunshine, enjoying the luxury of the fact that the footpath we needed passed right by Bridge Farm’s door. No trudging a couple of dispiriting miles back to the river for us today. No sirree.

The view of Swarkestone Bridge was impressive, and the Trent was glittering in the sunshine. We tripped along, full of the joys of an Indian Summer (and bacon and eggs). We followed the Trent for a bit, then set off on footpaths across fields to get to the Trent and Mersey canal. You can’t follow the Trent for part of the way here because of all the gravel workings. (Lots of alluvium and gravel round here, mostly dumped by the mega River Trent when it was fed by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, fact fans.)

So we fair skipped along the canal – you can make good time along canal towpaths. Although we’d pause occasionally to stuff our faces with blackberries. We’re getting half our vitamins from foraging, I swear. It’s one of the great things about doing the walk this time of year. Well, that and the fact that it’s rained all the rest of the summer.

We have been so incredibly lucky with the weather. If we’d done this in August it would really have been grim. As it is, the back of my neck now is the brownest it’s ever been. That’s the bit that’s getting the most sun, so I couldn’t claim to be an even colour, but still…

Anyway, we came to a big lock that had TWO narrowboats going through at once. We thought that was VERY exciting, so we stopped to watch, and Ross wanted to record the sound of it. If you’ve ever wanted to know what two narrowboats going through a lock sound like, then click play below.

Shardlow is a small town, a couple of miles before Sawley, and it’s where the river itself is officially navigable from. We got there about 1pm, in plenty of time to get to Sawley for 3pm, decided to stop for a cup of tea. Of course.

The tea was a 5/10 – real milk, a complimentary chocolate and a fancy teapot, BUT PG Tips teabags (they are always weak) and, horror of horrors, they gave us pots of hot water and teabags separate. Where were we, America? Surely everyone in Britain knows the tea won’t mash right if the water isn’t just boiled when it goes onto the teabag? They had excellent wifi though, and by that and the design of the teapots we deduced we were in a Marstons pub. Yes, we have got to the point where we can spot the pub chain by their tea and their wifi – two things central to our lives on this trip.

Then somehow it was 2.30pm and we were only a few mins on from Shardlow. I think I may have spotted our timekeeping problem. Whenever we look like being in enough time for things, we think, ‘Oh, we’ve got bags of time’ and start faffing about, until the spare time is all gone. So it was a forced-march the rest of the way to Sawley (did I mention how hot it was?), and we panted into the pub, sweating profusely, at 2.52pm. Bags of time, see?

The show went OK.  We did it outside in the beer garden, but that was quite big, and it was windy and not everyone could hear us. I tried to be as loud as I could manage, but it’s hard to storytell at shouting volume – you lose the variation in tone and texture. Also, the sound of the ukelele doesn’t carry that well, it being a small-bodied instrument. So all the little musical jokes we’ve put in were only working for the nearest tables. And to be honest, of those who could hear us, I think only about half were listening.

But a lovely man called John came up to see us afterwards. He’d read about us in the paper, and come from Gedling (about 20 miles away) specially to see us. I was really touched. He said my stories were wonderful, which was very kind of him. And that Dad has a fantastic voice, which is true. He also said I should become a teacher. I’m not sure that’s a good review, but Mum and Dad were both teachers. You obviously can’t escape heredity…*

As we’d failed to find anywhere to stay nearby, Dad drove us the 20 miles to their house. The car journey made Ross a bit carsick – we’ve got out of practice at travelling so fast! But wonder of wonders Mum and Dad have a bath, so now we are properly clean and our aching limbs soothed. And Ross’s laptop is here. So we can both be on the internet at once – yay, togetherness!

It feels kind of strange and cheaty to be at home now and have familiar things everywhere. But we’ll get the train back to Long Eaton in the morning, and carry on walking where we left off. Tomorrow night we should be in Nottingham, where we’re doing two gigs, on subsequent days. Then we walk back here to Gunthorpe again.

It’s kind of depressing that it will take us two days to walk what it’s taken us half an hour in the car to do today. But hey, that’s walking for you. At least we’re not releasing (much) CO2.

*Don’t write in, geneticists, it’s a joke.

P.S. Me and Ross’s feet look disgusting. Do not look at the following pics while eating your dinner.

Ross’s blister complex is escaping out of the sides of his mass of compeed.

The great weeping sore on my heel, covered by compeed, which is then held on by zinc oxide tape. Compeed is the wonder substance. The sore wasn’t even hurting today, once I’d got the compeed on it.

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Categories: Recordings, The Journey | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Day 9 – Swarkestone Bridge to Sawley

  1. Paula

    Finally had the chance to read up on the details of the journey so far. Excellent reading!

    Hope it just gets better and easier.

    Congratulations on a great idea!

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