On Sunday we walked from Repton.
We hadn’t planned to do so, but that’s the way things sometimes go. The forecast nice day hadn’t really materialised, so we ruled out a trip further afield. But at least it was dry, albeit a little cool and overcast, so it seemed like the perfect choice for a couple of hours’ fresh air and exercise.
Repton – “Historic capital of Mercia” as the sign proclaims – is a large-ish village on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, and home to a renowned public school whose famous alumni include, amongst a roll call of the great and good, comedian Graeme Garden and journalist/TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Saints and sinners alike – or Goodies and baddies, if you prefer – can find redemption at the adjacent church of St. Wystan’s, towering over both school and village.
Our route – Repton, Newton Solney, Bretby, Robin’s Cross, Milton, Repton – hardly needs further elucidation, keeping by and large to the lanes. We parked by the Cross and made our way out of the village along Burton Road. Soon, we passed the last of the houses and farming countryside spread out on either side.
As a young lad, I used to cycle the lanes hereabouts with my mates, kids in those days being on a much longer leash. We never felt worried about being so many miles from home – with a few coins tucked away for an emergency phone call in case we got into trouble. Later I met my future wife here, and we would walk these streets and paths together with all of our history still waiting to be written.
So there were lots of memories kindled as we pottered round the circuit, of people and events that had intersected our lives all those years ago. Since then we have moved on; and it is many years since we had any regular connection with the village. Our conversation was filled with recollections of “Remember who lived there?” and “Whatever happened to so-and-so?"
We ate our lunch perched on the bridge at Robin’s Cross; no longer the quiet junction it was nearly 30 years ago. Though still a favourite of cyclists, there are more cars now. Then we walked over the hill to Milton, noticing along the way a lattice of new-looking footpaths; we must get the map and prepare for further exploration.
Finally, it was back to Repton. True, the walk lacked a bit of variation underfoot. And true, it was overlooked for much of the way by the ugly, brooding towers of Willington Power Station, an entirely different sort of architecture to that of classical Repton. But it served as a reminder that a good walk can be about more than views, wild countryside and blowing the cobwebs away. History can prove just as refreshing, too.