Having trekked the beautiful Hanbury circuit the previous day, I decided to follow on from this by getting Esta to drop me off in the countryside and making my own way back along some footpaths.
My OS map showed me that if I got dropped off in Flyford Flavell, I should be able to pick up the 'Millenium Bridleway' for the majority of my trek home.
As mentioned in my Hanbury Circuit blog, when I walked that route with Will I undertook it in flip flops and shorts. The route had been well marked, and as the weather had been so good lately the going underfoot had not presented an issue with such basic footwear. I had very much been lulled into a false sense of security.
The Millennium Bridleway (at least at the point at which I picked it up) appears seldom-used, overgrown, and poorly maintained. Though there are signposts indicating the way across roads, detecting the trail is generally a detailed map-reading exercise. It appears to be a route that must have been established back in Shakespearean times, and though it 'legally' remains a bridleway, it often cuts directly across fields. Sometimes, as in the image to the left, there is a trace of a trail to follow, but I often had to skirt around fields of purple sprouting or other crops in order to get to the other side. And even then, detecting the trail again was tricky, as the style might be rotted and overgrown with brambles and stinging nettles. My bare legs were shredded and stung to pieces.
The necessity to continually stop and check my position on the map added a great deal of time to the walk, and I was averaging just 1km per 15 minutes. I changed my plan and arranged for Esta to collect me from Spechley Hall, but eventually, after being unable to get out of field at all due to poor maintenance of the track (which was completely un-passable due to brambles), I even had to cut the final part of the walk too. With no option, I had to ask a kindly couple if I could cut through their house in order to get to the road. I popped out just down from the Nightingale pub on Evesham Road, so that quickly became the new pick-up point.
The bridleway could be a very pleasant walk if a bit of attention was paid to it. I learned a few lessons, not to mention some good practice on my map-reading skills, and on my next walk I'll ensure I wear my hiking boots again. Once all the cuts on my feet heal, that is.
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.