27.2 miles – dusty, turbid heat, stale, murky sunshine
I had three pieces of good luck to help me on my way:
- The man preparing W.H.Smiths in Ashbourne to open at 10:30 actually let me in at 9:30 to buy the maps I needed;
- The ‘Large Full english’ (2nd) breakfast at the Tunnel Cafe washed down with two pots of tea;
- The fact that the sunshine remained hazy all day – I think this is what saved me and enabled me to walk so far in 30 degrees Centigrade. Actually there was a fourth piece of good luck.
- The beautifully-kept pint of Marstons I had at the Shire Horse in Wyaston – it’s a pretty, rural pub in a tiny, tourist-less hamlet; I bemoan the loss of rural pubs, so rather than moan about it, support them!
It was after that that I noticed how different the landscape was south of Ashbourne. Instead of dry, limestone walls there were hedgerows; instead of sheep and cattle there were fields of ripening wheat; the hills were now gently undulating, and I saw that all the houses and barns built before the War were of red, Midland brick.
Burton itself was rather disappointing the way I came in: dusty, grimey roads, shops boarded up, peeling paintwork, and men and women with a look of disappointed surrender on their faces (or was that just a reflection of how I saw their environment?)
The Three Queens Hotel, which would be home for me for the next two-and-a-half days had seen better times too, but it was decent and clean.
I made it to Burton in time to shelter from two the two days of heat to come, forecast to be 40 Centigrade (which would be a national all-time record. I covered the largest number of miles so far in my walk and clocked up the fastest walking speed (3.2 mph, averaged over the day). I am unlikely to go that fast again!