I’m sure you remember Desperate Dan, that heroic Wild West character from The Dandy, who could lift a cow one handed. If so, you will remember his favourite food, Desperate Dan’s Cow Pie with it’s horns poking through the pastry topping.
Now, at pubs like the Little Lark in Studley we can all enjoy Desperate Dan pies – and their Christmas counterpart, The Desperate Santa Christmas Pie, simply, Christmas dinner, in a pie, topped with gorgeous, golden puff pastry.
And so it was that a party of twelve doughty walkers met in Alcester High Street for our Christmas walk to The Little Lark and a feast of Desperate Santa pies. Chased by the strong winds blowing Storm Barra across the country the group convened for coffee before setting off on a soggy-looking 5.5 mile walk and our meeting with our Christmas lunch.
So here are some of us emerging from the coffee shop, preparing to depart. The weather was, so far, pretty cold but dry at least as we set off. I will place a walkers guide to this walk under the Walks Tab on this site but basically this is a simple one way walk between Alcester and Studley, relying on public transport to return us after lunch.
Along Butter St and down the bank to a area that apparently suffered greatly in our Tabling days. Mike reversed into a lamp post, Brett hit the bridge. Good job we are older – if not wiser now. Across Conway Fields, through the thicket, over the road and into he Heart of England forest. I had no idea that plastic grew in the ground. Walk through here and you will see what I mean. But then we met the cows. Steaming in the cold wind and huddled under a hedge, they watched us, idly probing their nostrils with their tongues. A few of our party paled at the baleful stare but I will not be intimidated and marched straight on. Ain’t I brave?
Down the lane towards Coughton Ford before which we climb up to the right and head off though more “plastic” forest after which we met the trickiest obstacle so far. A kissing gate with its own pond. How deep is it? How waterproof are my boots? Two questions to which colleagues found the answer and some of us squelched throughout the rest of the walk.
A break was declared adjacent to St Leonard’s church in Spernall. Coffee and the contents of a couple of hip flasks were circulated along with water and cake. After which we moved to the final leg of our journey, from Spernal to Studley via Studley church.
The last time I had past this way this part was a muddy morass. Truly horrible. So, as we set off it would be true to say I was pretty nervous. But there was no need. In fact we bowled easily over the shallow river valley towards Studley church and then towards Studley, crossing The River Arrow in the process.
And so we reached our destination, The Little Lark and lunch. We stumbled muddily through the door and were bathed in festive lighting and a wood fire warmed atmosphere. A busy, friendly pub with busy, friendly staff, we were soon seated, drinks in hand and being served our meals of Desperate Santa pies washed down with with beer. Soon the sound of chatter began to swell. Indeed, so engrossed were we that we managed to miss our bus back to Alcester. So we were grateful to non walkers among us who had brought their cars. And so, crammed in, we returned well sated and well exercised. A truly excellent start to the festive season.