Friday, 23 May 2014

Wolseley Wanderings

Common Pheasant family

Having dipped out miserably at Belvide Reservoir, a few days later we decided to chance our luck with somewhere closer to hand.  It was also time to investigate Fay's growing concerns that two public footpaths, running between Bower Lane and the Wolseley Road and which she had often used during her early teens, had somehow "disappeared."
While returning from Great Haywood [our home immediately prior to setting off to Australia for the second time] we diverted right into Bower Lane, towards Etching Hill, another of Fay's former regular childhood playgrounds.  Fay had failed to spot the signposts on an earlier drive although on this occasion I thought I'd espied one of the slim public footpath posts hidden behind an overgrowth of hedgerow.  Neither of us could pinpoint the signpost for the other public footpath..  It was definitely missing but why?
Parking beneath Etching Hill, opposite the old reserve football pitch once used by Rugeley RUFC, we walked back to the farm gate leading onto part of the Wolseley Estate where the public footpath sign had stood for many years.  It became obvious by its absence.
Double-checking the map and noting the dog walker approaching us from within the estate, we set forth.  As our paths crossed we received what seems to be the standard Staffordshire greeting, "Alright?"
The birding was meagre; the ubiquitous Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus, Common Blackbird Turdus merula, Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita, etc, were around but only the passing Common Buzzard Buteo buteo really caused us to stop a moment.
A brisk walk though some quintessential Staffordshire  farmscape brought us  the Wolseley Road end of the public footpath, opposite the Wolseley Bridge - or, for those you more inclined to an Andy Capp frame of mind, across the road from the Wolseley Arms.  The signpost was there but almost totally obscured by small advertising boards.

Can you spot the Public Footpath signpost?
 We proceeded to the next known public footpath, a simple walk of some 100 metres.  Anyone unfamiliar with the area or the existence of this right of way would surely have failed to locate the start of the footpath from the road itself.  The signpost was missing.

Spot the Signpost

Fay knew it was there; the OS map indicated it was here.  A little way along the track itself there appeared signs confirming that this was indeed the public footpath through the Wolseley Estste- mostly warnings of dire consequences should the unwary step beyond the realms of the Crown onto private property.

The Common Skylark Alauda arvensis put in a welcomed appearance and the stone remains of some former, surely once grand,  dwelling provided a note of historic interest.

Stone ruins

The public footpath was signposted at the Bower Lane end,

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