War and Peace - West Midlands day walk (39275)
Join TJ on this circular walk through the history-rich forest and heathland of Cannock Chase, Staffs, and a visit to an unusual cemetery.
Join TJ on this circular walk through the history-rich forest and heathland of Cannock Chase, Staffs.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty located just 20 miles from Birmingham city centre, Cannock Chase is a mix of ancient woodland, managed pine forest, heathland and open parkland. Away from the popular country park area there are many quiet forest rides that belie the area's varied past, first as a royal hunting ground and later for charcoal burning and coal mining on an industrial scale. More recently it played a significant military role, especially in the two World Wars with training camps, an RAF practice bombing range and a POW camp.
Having left Hednesford behind we will walk through the forest up to the strangely fascinating German military cemetery. The remains of nearly 5000 soldiers including Zeppelin aircrews rest here in this peaceful setting. Our walk then continues a few miles farther to where, after a lunch stop, there'll also be the chance to visit a reconstructed WWI hut.
We'll then follow a hillier route to return to our start point via the heathland of the Hednesford Hills and some liquid refreshment.
What to bring
You'll need boots and a waterproof jacket for this one, as usual. Dress warmly!
Boots: Hiking boots are arguably the most essential piece of kit when hiking just about anywhere. Walker’s should make sure that their boots are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support. Boots should also be in good condition.
Socks: Walking socks are often overshadowed by those new to hiking, with many novices failing to invest in proper socks. Good walking socks are essential in regards to keeping the feet dry, and in turn stopping the development of blisters. Sports socks and other socks not designed for walking will often become waterlogged, or damaged which will in turn blister feet.
Gators: Gators attach to the bottom of walking boots and extend to just under the knee. They provide waterproofing for the bottom half of the leg, and are essential in keeping the feet dry.
Walking Trousers: Walking trousers should be of a windproof design and made of a rip stop material, that will stand up to walking through ferns and undergrowth. They should also ideally be water resistant, or at least not gain weight, and lose their insulation properties when wet. Jeans are therefore to be avoided, as they are heavy when wet and provide no protection from the elements.
Waterproof Trousers: Waterproof trousers are essential in keeping the legs dry, as water resistant trousers will not keep out any significant rainfall. Walker’s should look for waterproof trousers that are breathable, in order to avoid being soaked with sweat.
Base Layer: A breathable base layer should be chosen in order to let sweat escape from the body. This should ideally consist of a breathable synthetic, specially designed fabric, though a cotton T-Shirt is sufficient.
Mid Layer: A Mid Layer goes on top of the base layer and should consist of a 100 weight micro fleece, or a rugby typed thick shirt. The layering system is important as it allows walkers to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature.
Outer Layer: The outer layer should consist of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece. This is the final layer and walkers should ensure that this layer provides ample warmth.
Waterproof Jacket: A good waterproof jacket is one of the most important pieces of kit you will require when hiking. Walkers should look for a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable in order for them to be protected from sweat. Materials such as Gore-tex are often the best choices.
Hat: As most heat is lost through the head a good hat is essential. The best hats are those of a fleece design, with wool also being acceptable.
Gloves: Gloves are essential in the colder months as walkers will require the usage of their fingers for various activities such as map reading. Windproof or better still waterproof gloves are the best choice.
Rucksack: A good Rucksack that is comfortable to wear is essential, and required to carry both food and equipment. Day sacks should have a capacity of around 30 litres with equipment being placed in water proof bags inside.
Emergency Equipment: A number of items should be taken in case problems occur whilst walking in the hills. Emergency equipment becomes of greater importance the further from civilisation walkers are. Equipment should include spare food stuffs of high energy, a survival bag, a whistle, a medical kit, a torch and something to make fire, either storm proof matches or a firelighter.
Food & Water: At least two litres of water should be brought for each day hiking, with more being taken if cooking is required. Enough food for the duration of a walk should also be taken. Food should be of the high energy variety, with hot food being able to be eaten raw if necessary.
Map & Compass: A map of the area being walked in is essential as well as a compass. The map should be in a waterproof bag or be of a waterproof design.
Mobile Phone: A mobile phone should also be brought and kept in a waterproof bag for use in emergencies.
Food & Drink
Please bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink to keep you going through the day. There'll be refreshments at the end of the walk (either a pub or a cuppa).
Meeting & Times
Getting there & parking
A half-hourly train service runs to Hednesford from Birmingham New Street and Rugeley.
Parking is free all day, however as it is meant for rail users please consider buying a cheap ticket (single or return to Cannock is £2.30) and try to arrange car sharing where possible.
Note that the adjacent car park for the Coop is free but limited to only 4 hours - probably not worth the risk!
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