In the last couple of weeks, I’ve done a fair bit of walking in the lanes (and on one misjudged occasion, a potato field) around the Lichfield/Burntwood area. On one walk I was accompanied by my husband, on another I was alone. Well, I say alone, but actually you bump into others – cyclists, horseriders and of course other walkers, who generally smile and say hello, and exchange pleasantries. I like that a lot. On the walk I did alone, I made the mistake of trying to take a shortcut. It was a way marked path through fields and the views were great but it felt too lonely. I retraced my steps back through the potatoes and back to the lanes. I’ve realised that I’m not much of a fan of walking through fields. I prefer to be somewhere where others have been, and others are.
Anyway, in case anyone wants to do a similar walk themselves, here’s a suggested route. I think it’s about 5 and a half miles. As you can see it’s pretty straight forward, and in fact you could do it either way around, but I’d been reading the book ‘Holloway‘ and liked the idea of walking from Farewell towards the Cathedral down Cross in Hand Lane, as pilgrims did in the past, and indeed still do.
On walks these days, I am torn between the joy of discovering the unknown, and the disappointment on getting home and finding that you were just minutes away from a Tudor gatehouse/CAMRA pub of the year/ancient burial site etc. I hope that including a couple of photos with suggestions of things to look out for won’t make it too prescriptive, but will give you a flavour of the walk.
In parts, Abnalls Lane cuts through sandstone, and tree roots grow above your head.
According to the Staffordshire Heritage Environment Record, there are a series of these holloways on the Lichfield/Burntwood border.
Walking through the potatoes, it felt like there was nothing else but fields.
I was glad to get back on the lanes and see signs of human life, like these old cottages at Spade Green, on Abnalls Lane before turning up The Roche.
Found lots of water around Cresswell (except for the well itself!). This is part of an old mill race, seemingly all that’s left of Little Pipe corn mill.
The Nelson Inn shows up on the 1815 map, and the pub’s website says that there may have been a pub onsite since the 1500s (presumably with a different name?). The low building to the left (which I’ve practically cut off the photo!) was a smithy. In 1909, Clifford Daft advertised himself as a general shoeing smith, willing to undertake all kinds of jobbing and repairs to farm implements.
Looking at a series of old maps, there’s not just the one well around here but several. However, I didn’t find any of them, so I had to settle for a different form of refreshment. And a very nice pint of Theakston’s Lightfoot it was.
We found the old Farewell and Chorley schoolhouse, but I haven’t been able to find out much more about Elizabeth Annie Page as yet.
An old farm at Chorley
The Malt Shovel at Chorley. Great pub.
A lovely babbling brook running alongside the path. Was tempted to have a paddle as it was hot and my feet were rubbing, but thought I’d never put my not entirely appropriate shoes back on again if I did.
In between walks, some of the wildflowers on the roadside verges had been chopped down which was a shame, but there were still pockets of them in places, including these incredibly late bluebells.
Farewell church, a church of two halves. Once the site of a Benedictine Priory and where some mysterious jars were found in the wall, during renovations….
…and somewhere beneath the greenery is the ‘pure spring’ that gives the place its name. You can’t see much, but you can sometimes hear it gurgling away if the water table is high enough (thank you Brownhills Bob for explaining away this mystery)
Down Cross in Hand land, past Farewell Mill. There’s been a mill here since the 12th century. It was apparently in operation until the 1940s (source: Staffordshire Past Track).
Past the sheep taking a dip in the sparkling water that flows along the lane.
Cross in Hand Lane, I understand, was once the old road to Stafford. As you reach these lovely white cottages set back into the sandstone, you are nearly back at the A51, which is of course the new road to Stafford…
Of course, if you don’t want to say farewell (ho,ho) to the walk just yet, somewhere around these cottages is an old track called Lyncroft Lane, which leads to Lyncroft House aka The Hedgehog!