Choo! Choo! Chugga! Chugga! I could hear it coming before I saw it - a real live steam train on the Churnet Valley Railway. I realise my photo may look as though it is a shot of a model railway but I swear it is not. I was standing on the old railway bridge near Bradnop. The Churnet Valley Railway is of course run by rail enthusiasts
It was a good start to my long Staffordshire walk. It had taken Clint just one hour and ten minutes to transport me cross country to the town of Leek but I chose to begin my walk just outside it in the strung out village of Bradnop. This is Lark Hall Farm just outside Bradnop:-
Later, after plodding along for a couple of hours I found myself in the centre of Leek itself. It has a population of some twenty thousand and a long history too. It even has its own building society. Here is the branch on Derby Street:-
Here's another view of Leek taken from near the old market place which received its charter from King John in 1207. The church is dedicated to St Edward the Confessor and also dates back to the thirteenth century:-
On the walking map I had printed off I had seen something marked called "Plague Stone" next to Cheddleton Road. I was keen to investigate and this is it....
This stump of a cross dates back to the fourteenth century. It is thought that provisions were left on or near the cross for the townspeople of Leek during the Bubonic Plague, and payment was left by the people in bowls of vinegar, to prevent spread of the disease.
It was after four o'clock when I jumped back into Clint's cosy cockpit ready for the drive back to Sheffield. Weatherwise, it had been a pretty perfect day and I was pleased that my circular walk had all been in "virgin territory" for I had never previously visited Leek. It was good.