We awoke to bright sunshine, and enjoyed breakfast in the Mount hotel’s palatial dining room. We took a taxi out to Seisdon. Again, we had shamelessly lopped some serious distance off the official Staffordshire Way – 6.8miles in this case. But we felt that today, our final day, we had to reach our destination in a state commensurate with a ticker-tape welcome and a champagne reception!
Reunited with our rucksacks, our initial pace was nonetheless impressive. We soon reached Abbot’s Castle Hill, a ridge running south, with sweeping views to the east, and wooded slopes to the west. And, hey! We realised that we were walking down through The Staffordshire Panhandle! Not as famous, maybe, as the Texan equivalent, but a truly landlocked peninsula – West Midlands to the east and Shropshire to the west. We wondered if this area was subject to tornadoes, or whether it had spawned the equivalent of Buddy Holly!
The ridge lead us past a disused sand quarry, and on to Highgate Common. Dappled sunlight gave this woodland an enchanting aura. We would have appreciated it more if we hadn’t been so concerned about getting lost! Way markers through the wood were sparse. More by luck than judgement, we emerged from this sylvan splendour in the right spot! We celebrated our good fortune with a wedge of chocolate-coated mint cake.
The Way took us through the grounds of Mere Hall with its ostriches and alpacas, and on to Enville with its church restored and enlarged by Sir Gilbert Scott. Julia’s paternal relatives hail from the Enville area, and so we scoured the tombstones for Millinships and Spittles, but to no avail.
The Cat Inn proved to be a no-nonsense country pub, and served a delicious, no-nonsense prawn sandwich. This went well with a pint of Enville Ale (although I noted that it was brewed in nearby Stourbridge).
Our afternoon started with a walk through the grounds of Enville Hall with its beautifully manicured cricket ground. The scorebox was incorporated into the garden wall.
The short distance to Kinver was along sandy lanes. We didn’t go into the town but stuck to our Way, climbing steeply onto Kinver Edge. The day had become somewhat drab and grey. We sensed that we were very close to the end of our walk, but the way markers were conspicuous by their absence. It felt as if our loyalty to The Staffordshire Way was unrequited.
We were well and truly lost. We started descending, only to realise that we were entering the outskirts of the town. We climbed Kinver Edge for a second time, and rather fortuitously happened upon the track which followed the line of the ridge. At this juncture, it started to rain – the first of our six day sojourn! We passed the trig point, which we presumed marked the highest point of Kinver Edge and carried on to the southernmost tip of our county – marked by a signpost. No ticker-tape; no champagne; but out of the drizzly mire appeared a young man who was only too happy to take our photo at this auspicious landmark.
We dropped off Kinver Edge to the west, towards our agreed pick-up point. And lo and behold, we stumbled upon a complex of sandstone caves!
Exploring the caves gave us brief respite, as it was now throwing it down. On reaching the lane which runs parallel to the ridge to its west, we realised that there was a string of car parks dotted along this road. We trudged from one car park to another whilst my parents were doing the same in the comfort of their car. They passed us on the road and did not stop despite our whoops and flailing. They later told us that the two drenched walkers that they passed looked far too young to be us! What could we say? The perfect excuse – one that flatters!