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Dove Valley Walk: Marston from both directions

Marston-on-Dove consists of about three farms and a church. If you live more than ten miles away, you've probably never heard of it. Bizarrely, the church is the parish church for Hilton, which is now many times Marston's size after a bunch of houses were built on an old MoD base.

Marston Lane bridge

 Marston also has a bridge over the River Dove. I walked from Egginton and crossed it north to south, then walked from Tutbury and crossed it south to north. I think I can now consider that bridge pretty well crossed off my list!

Walk 1: Egginton to Marston

Having visited Claymills Pumping Station, I now know that Egginton used to be dominated by the stench of Burton's sewage, which was pumped up here to be spread across some fields in the hope that it would magically disappear. It didn't. It sat there and stank. 

We don't seem to have learned many lessons about making bad things magically disappear (see also: plastic, nuclear waste) but at least sewage treatment has progressed. Egginton is a nice little village and not at all smelly.

I set off along a track and past a fishing lake, and ran into a loop of the Dove in a field full of sheep. These ones were quite placid. The sheep in the next field were definitely giving me menacing looks. I reached a gap in an old railway embankment which was flooded about a foot deep, but when I looked behind me there was a sheep in a threatening stance. "Not thinking about coming back this way, are you?" I dragged myself through a hawthorn bush, paddled the edge of the flood, climbed the stile... and found myself facing yet more sheep. Remind me again why this was fun?

The River Dove

Footpath. Not the River Dove

The next challenge was to cross a real live railway line. The sign said, "phone signal box before crossing" so, for the first time in my life, I opened one of those little yellow phone boxes and picked up the receiver. "How long will it take you to cross?" asked the voice on the other end. "About 10 seconds," I replied, so I was given the go-ahead. A minute after I'd reached the other side, the train came rushing through.


Using that crossing had left me considerably off the line of the actual footpath, which I didn't realise until I bumped into the Hilton Brook (and a bridge which I was glad I wasn't crossing!) I floundered through a couple more fields and ducked past a Strictly Private sign to finally reach the road.

umm... bridge?

After all that, I was glad to sit down on the bench by St Mary's church for a few minutes.

From here it was mostly road. Marston Lane took me back across the railway, and over the river into Staffordshire. There was a footpath on the left to Rolleston-on-Dove. Over a stream, through the village, along another footpath, and I reached a section of the Jinny Nature Trail (no prizes for guessing what it used to be).

Half a mile on the road brought me to the A38. I crossed the River Dove again with lorries thundering past at 60mph. 

Fortunately I was soon back in quieter surroundings. Someone has made a lovely job of St Wilfrid's churchyard in Egginton. There are benches, flowers, and little signs with quotes from the Bible - and Peanuts.

And I was grateful. Even for sheep.

12.4 km / 7.7 miles

23 April 2024

Walk 2: Tutbury to Marston

A week later, I was back to approach Marston-on-Dove from the opposite direction. This was a much shorter walk, dominated by the Nestle factory in Hatton. The smell of roasting coffee drifts as far as Findern when the wind is right; an improvement on sewage odours, anyway.

I set off from the picnic area in Tutbury. The path towards Rolleston was blissfully well-trodden and sheep-free. I passed a rather nice house, climbed the small hump of Shotwood Hill, and dropped down again to a mobile home site on the edge of Rolleston. 

From here I headed north up Marston Lane. Even doing the same route in the opposite direction, I noticed new things - such as this old piece of machinery, which was hidden by a building when I walked the other way. 

There must be a big project going on on the power lines, as men were perched in several pylons that I passed. It confused me the first time I heard voices from overhead!

From St Mary's church, a tarmac lane leads straight to the coloured blocks of the Nestle factory. The public footpath swerves to the right of the factory, but all the other walkers I could see were turning left, so I followed them. That took me past some art installations, under the railway, and along the southern edge of the site.

After a few minutes I reached Thistley Place Meadow Nature Reserve, with a very good view of the bridge between Hatton and Tutbury. A sign informed me that the bridge is 230 feet long and 24 feet wide.

 Crossing the bridge, I arrived back at the picnic site. It has a cute castle-themed play area. The real Tutbury Castle made a few appearances through trees on this walk, but will be more visible next time, when I head further west along the Dove.

7.5 km / 4.7 miles

29 April 2024


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