On October 1st I had the pleasure of leading my first GOC walk. Thank you to Chris for entrusting me with his West Midlands group members for what I'd advertised as a Waterside Wander along the Trent Valley. Despite the weather making it a truly watery wander for the second half of the walk, it was a throughly convivial and enjoyable walk.
I'd designed the walk to showcase some of the recent changes to the Trent Valley following gravel extraction quarrying. The long-term vision is to connect Burton and Lichfield with a network of footpaths and waterways. creating a giant water park within the National Forest. This 8-mile walk included three such man-made lakes: Branston Water Park (created around 30 years ago), Barton Marina (created around 15 years ago) and the Tucklesholme Nature Reserve (opened in 2018). By linking these three lakes with a walk that followed the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Trent, 90% of our walk was alongside water.
Thanks to the twelve members who attended, including my long-standing friends Robert and Paul, who I'd persuaded to become members this week. Their parson terrier, Lando, made many new friends on the walk. Also, a special mention to Ralph, who travelled from Hampshire to Staffordshire, just to get extremely wet.
The walk also marked the first anniversary of me joining GOC. A year ago I was in a tough period of my life and the club has provided a huge boost to my wellbeing, social network and mental health. I've recommended the club to many friends, and have had the pleasure of joining walks in the South, East and West Midlands regions as well as hikes in the London and TransPennine groups.
I'm now organising a walk for the East Midlands Group, an urban parklands and industrial heritage walk along the River Derwent from Derby station on Sunday, January 7th. I hope to see many of you there.
Keep in touch,