A Wet Day North of Daventry.

26th January 2002.
Peter can never usually "drink" when he is with the rest of us on walks. As he lives some distance from the other four members of the group he usually drives over to my place, and leaves his car on the drive, or meets the rest of us at the walk’s start. What ever the scenario is he’s not usually able to partake of more than a pint of beer, which is the favourite tipple. Today would be different. We had been looking forward to blue skies and a walk in countryside just north of Daventry, where Peter lives, and the opportunity for him to have more than one large glass of "porter".

Two or three days before we realised that the weather was unlikely to be kind, never the less the 5 of us, Larry, Mick, Peter, Ray and myself, all had the necessary wet weather gear so we would be prepared for the rain. We weren’t disappointed, unfortunately.

Mick collected me at 8.30 a.m. He then informed me that his wife Chris, affectionately known as "Legs" (‘cause very few people have ever seen them), had been expecting a telephone call from me for the last hour or so to give some feeble excuse to escape what was destined to be a very wet day. I’m not called "Fairweather" for nothing. But like the rest I was brave and foolhardy and so, with Larry and Ray collected, Mick drove on to Daventry.

As soon as we got to Peter’s place boots were on and for one of the few times in my life I also started a walk with overtrousers and waterproof coat. I was prepared.

The walk initially took us over the top of Braunston Canal Tunnel before we dropped down to the "Grand Union" and followed it to Braunston. Amazingly enough, although the paths were wet from the rain we had the preceding day there was no rain. Had the forecasters got it wrong? Was I wearing waterproofs when it was not necessary? I was even considering taking my waterproof coat off when "it started". We had left the canal and were in Braunston when the rain came. Suddenly rucksacks were open and in the minimal shelter of a wall anyone who had not started in wet weather gear was soon "kitted out". It was then that I think we all realised this was no minor shower. We were going to have a very wet day.

From the shelter of Braunston we went north across fields, along the road, past the medieval village of Fawcliffe, which was just mounds on the ground, and over Cleves Hill to Ashby Home Wood. From here, having stopped in the shelter of some trees for a hot drink and a snack, we continued through mud and sodden grass to Ashby St. Ledgers. I really must have a look at Ashby again some day. It looked very pleasant even in the wet.

The next stop, having picked up the "Jurassic Way" going eastwards, was the canal north of the Watford Gap. At last a break from what had been, more or less, muddy fields since "Ashby". Canal walking was certainly easier. But the rain continued, and although we were tempted to "pop over" the fence to Watford Gap Services for a cup of tea and a warm in our wet muddy state we were unlikely to have been very welcome. So we continued on our way passing a dead sheep floating in the canal and a young swan that gave us all a bit of a shock as it started hissing at us as we passed by it. These were the highlights of this part of our wet ramble.

It was soon after when we decided that our lunch stop at a pub near the Norton Junction was not likely to be appropriate. It would have been lovely to get into a warm dry environment but as Mick remarked "there is only one thing worse than having to take off wet waterproofs and muddy boots and that is having to put them on again". So we turned off the canal at Welton Hythe Marina and were soon on tarmac walking to Welton. We had decided the best course of action was to get back to Peter’s, get waterproofs off and get dry before getting some food and liquid refreshment inside of us.

To me the walk along the road back was the worse part. During the proceeding weeks I had been taking some tablets for an aching back which had had a less than desirable impact on my digestive system. It was now approaching about 1 o’clock and as a light breakfast was some hours behind, and having eaten only a small Snickers since then, heartburn or something similar had "kicked in". It was probably the worse I had ever had and not helped by the rush to get to Peter’s; particularly as the quicker I walked the more unpleasant the pain got. It was a great relief to get back to Peter’s and by the time I had discarded waterproofs and boots the worst of the pain had gone and rain had stopped and the he sun was beginning to shine.

It was now past 2 p.m. A telephone call to a recommended pub at Welton confirmed that food had finished being served so with Mick at the wheel we did a "trawl" of the pubs in Braunston. The only place serving food was the Mill on the main road so having filled a gap in our stomachs we transferred to the Old Plough Inn in Braunston, where all enjoyed at least one pint of "Speckled Hen" which came highly recommended. A super end to a very wet and muddy day.

Sorry no photographs. All cameras were waterlogged.

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