Probably I should have not bothered today. My feet were in a terrible state and I set off late as the clock in my sister's spare room had not been adjusted when the clocks went forward last week. Only an hour, but the first part of the walk today was four miles along a fast and fairly busy road with no footpath. I had calculated that early on Easter Saturday would be as good a time as any to get this out of the way - when people were having lie ins or had already gone away for the weekend.

I considered just taking it easy for the day instead, and getting the train back in the Evening from Leicester rather than from Derby. The problem with that was I have a four day trip scheduled in two weeks. My brother in law suggested that I could always fill in this section later - which was true - but I would prefer to do the whole walk in order if I can, and if I can't I only want to resort to filling in missed sections later in direst emergency.

So, I set off. Later than I would like, my blisters covered with compeed but still pretty painful. Nina and Pete waved me off and I hobbled back to the hairdressers where Nina had picked me up the previous evening and then, after a quick dive into a co-op for half a dozen disappointingly stale hot cross buns,  up a hill which led to a bridge over the M69 and on to the dreaded B582 to Desford. The weather was dull and grey but at least it wasn't raining. The traffic was fast but at least it was still thin and I was able to step onto the verge when oncoming cars or lorries aproached, most of the time. But this hurt my feet so I only did it it the oncoming vehicles looked too fast or too close. Most courteously swung well to the right to give me a wide berth.

Almost immediately I heard, and then saw, four buzzards in the sky. They did not seem to be fighting over territory which seemed strange in Spring. A family from last year, perhaps?

But all in all it was a long and unpleasant hobble and by the time I got to the crossroads with the A47 I was fed up enough to try a footpath marked on the map. It ran behind the houses with vast gardens that lined the road before taking off over open fields. To begin with it was not too bad. Wetter than I would have liked but reasonable going. But soon enough it turned into the all too familiar mire.

England is a bog. The Midland Plain is, anyway. One great big fucking endless bog from Bedfordshire to York, from Norwich to Shrewsbury, squelching mud and churned up footpaths and water standing in great sheets in the claggy clay bound fields. Who'se stupid idea was this walk anyway?

Eventually, I slither into Desford. My feet are hurting much more now. They clearly prefer hard and regular surfaces to sliding over't shant.  The rest of me prefers the footpaths because I hate walking busy roads. I have started talking to my body as if it was a seperate being, like St Francis' brother Ass.  Which would be OK if the impertinant fucker did not keep answering back.

"Why are you so stiff and sort and unreliable," I ask it, reasonably.
"Listen, mind," it replies rudely, "It is our job to move you about, sure, but it is your job to maintain us properly. And that does not mean sitting in one awkward position all night arguing with right wing American nut jobs on the Internet or drinking too much wine and brandy."

I give up. There is no arguing with unreasonable articles like that.  Especially not my fucking feet which are whining like spoilt teenagers every step of the way.

Finally I make it to Desford. Which is quite a pretty village, and thankfully the next road is much quieter. I hobble past "Tropical Bird Land" which Desford seems to be famed for. And on, wincing all the way to Merry Lees, which has a much nicer name than it appears to deserve. Here I have a choice. Walk up the hill by road or take a parallel footpath. Having just had a couple of K's of road I opt for the path. Bad idea. I am back to bog in no time. It is quite a steep hill too so even more scope for slithering than usual.

"Shut up feet! Just stop fucking complaining, now or I won't get you those new trainers"

But by the time we get to the top I take the option to return to tarmac and limp down towards Bagworth Heath by B road.

More than ready for a hot cross bun break I am very, very happy to come to Bagworth Heath and find a perfectly placed bench. This is one of the bits of reclaimed, ex-industrial land that is making up the National Forest. I see my first pit wheel cemented into the ground as a commemorative sculpture. I see several of these over today. I have reached mining, or at least, ex-mining country.

Refreshed I try to make my way to Bagworth itself via a ride marked on the map. Soon I get stuck in the worst mire of the day, a broad path through an

impenetrable thicket that has been churned to a slough, but it is a long way back so I pick my way across as best I can and find my way to the ride. At least I think it is the ride. The thicket path curved round and I am disorientated so I get my compass out. There is something in it. I realise that a bit of the back has broken through into the compass housing and the liquid has all run out.

Will the needle still work? I hold it as steady as I can and watch the needle swing one way, and then the other, back and back again. Great! That was my best, Silva Compass and now I need to buy a new one.

At least it turns out that it was the right ride and I find my way back onto the road where I thought that I should be. And so to Bagworth. It is not the prettyest village I have every seen. You can tell it is ex-Industrial. But it is not ugly either. There are quite a few people around now, pottering in gardens etc and everyone says hello.

I limp down a long, long, hill. through Bagworth which is linear, but the pavement carries on when the road begins to go up again to Ellistown.  This is less genteel looking than Bagworth, and the natives that little bit less friendly to hobbling wierdos, at least, not everyone says hello here. All the men I see are heavily built to the point of being overwieght with shaven heads. It is only about five or six of them but the effect is striking. I pass a working man's club and a motorbike garage too, the first of three bike garages or shops I see today. I seem to be in biking country.

There have been buses going to Coalville since Bagworth and I am very, very tempted. There is no way that I am going to get to Melbourne which was my original objective. But I think I should be able to get to Derby, or to somewhere I can catch a bus from Derby, from Coalville. And that will have got me half way to Derby if I make it. So Coalville had become my only ambition.

It isn't far but my progress is as slow as it is painful. Again the pavement is blessedly continuous from Ellistown to Hugglescote and from Hugglescote to Coalville. More bike shops and another working man's club, and finally, I make it into a little square that seems to be the centre of Coalville. At any rate there are two bus shelters here. I am weary and in some pain but there is a map that I can follow in the bus shelter which shows three routes to Derby. I can go via Loughbourough, or via Swadlincote or Burton. As I have lots of time and I was in Loughborough a couple of weeks back with my sister Nina, I opt for Swadlincote, which I have never been too. I sit and wait, wondering about the chip shop opposite especially after two teenage girls sit on the next bench and noisily eat some.

I hear a some loud singing and three men come round the corner, one in a black and white football shirt. He is chanting something I cannot catch, about rival teams but the one bit I do understand is "We are the mighty Coalville." There is a young guy sitting next to me on the bench. "That's what too much drink will do," he says, when they have moved on. "Mighty Coalville?" I ask sceptically. "There are some strange people in Coalville he says."

A bus comes and he gets on it, giving me a wave as it pulls away. I take another look at the information and realise that I am waiting in the wrong place. I hobble round the corner to the right stop for Swadlincote. There is another chip shop here, but I cannot work out from the shit sign what time the bus is due. There is, however an information number. I phone it and find out I have about fifteen minutes.

The chip shop guy is Asian but his English seems to be fine. There is a solitary bit of fish on display. "Cod and chips, please." I say. He shows me a smallish portion of chips. "Is that enough?" he asks. This puzzles me but I had finished off the hot cross buns on a bench in Ellistown so I say yes. He starts to wrap them.
"Hold on," I say, "I wanted cod." He looks at me, says, "Yes, co...(something) chips."  I try again.
"He want's cod and chips," another customer puts in helpfully. Understanding dawns. "Oh" the Asian guy says. "I thought you said a corner of chips."

The fish turns out to be haddock anyway.

The bus turns out to be a good decision. First we get a tour of Moira in the heart of the National Forest which includes a glimpse of the amazing Moira furnace. "Swad" as it turns out to be called by locals, I don't see much of as the bus station is not in the centre.

All the people waiting there are white, and mostly elderly. The second bus takes us through Ticknall, which looks pretty, and Melbourne which is a very handsome town. And then I get my big bonus of the day which is, after Stanton by Bridge, the Swarkston Causeway.

Somehow I had not known about this amazing structure. Almost a mile of 13th century causeway across the Trent floodplain. Once almost as much a pinch point for north/south traffic as Stirling bridge was for the Highglands and Lowlands. Driving across it I realise why "Derby" was as far as Bonny Prince Charlie and his army made it South. I look across the floodplain  to see if I can spot the foot bridge which should be my own route across the Trent barrier but can see nothing. But I hope on the next leg I will be able to get some photos of the Causeway. Heavy traffic, it would seem, is putting it in danger.

The driver keeps stopping the bus, I suppose to adjust the schedule. So it takes forever. And despite all my time in hand I have only fifteen minutes to get from the bus to the train station in Derby. In a strange moment of sanity, instead of hobbling like fury on my blistered feet, I jump in a taxi.

And so ends my second day of blistered misery.



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