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A COVENTRY WAY CHALLENGE 2004 (The 7th) by Dave Kearns, Staffs L.D.W.A.

5 September 04, 40ml in 15hr,
organised by "A Coventry Way Association"

A SMALL, unimportant ambition achieved: my entry is confirmed and I am Walker Number One!  And then the doubts creep in ... suppose there's only me there?   But not to worry.  I arrive in Meriden, which used to be the Centre of England but now for some reason isn't, and find several dozen shadowy figures milling about in the pre-dawn gloom.  It is 6am.  We stumble across the road into the darkness and queue up for the first of what proves to be a considerable number of stiles.

This is why we do it.  The sun coming up, the mist rising from the fields; nobody about except long distance walkers, milkmen and others clearly up to no good.  Field paths, silent lanes and a disused railway track soon bring us to CP1 and the first snacks of the day.  It's starting to warm up nicely.

The Coventry Way is not a spectacular walk.  It is just all thoroughly pleasant.  And there is one bit of excitement: at the edge of Bedworth, a nub-end of a canal, only a couple of hundred yards long, a towpath that is completely overgrown with brambles.  Soon after that the Way passes through a new housing development, where we can marvel at the sanity of whoever gives streets names like Buttercup Way.

An easy walk by our exalted standards, but 40ml is forty miles, and on what could well have been the hottest day of the year I was not sorry to arrive back at the finish, which by chance was on licensed premises.  There were 7CPs, and 3 supplementary drinks stations, and I made good use of them all.

A word about the Route Instructions.   We see all sorts: some first class (eg The Regular Irregular Rounds), some hopeless (e.g. Cloud Seven), most the right side of adequate.  These were superlative.  An 18pp booklet, one page with a clear map, the facing page giving numbered directions.  The Coventry Way is way marked and there were event flags as well.  No excuse at all for going astray.

In all, an excellent walk, superbly organised.  You can even blue a fiver on a special 40ml T-shirt in which to show off.

Dave Kearns
Staffs L.D.W.A.


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