Day 82 - Suddenly we're in Wales with Mike & rain!

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
Trip End Nov 18, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Glan Yr Afon Inn

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Thursday, September 9, 2010

We get delayed finding somewhere to eat breakfast and it's 10 am before we hit the road with our new walking companion, Mike. Mike describes himself as being out of condition and appears to be dressed more suitably for a casual night at the pub than a serious hiking expedition, however off we go anyway.

We have decided to extend today's walk to try to give ourselves an extra rest day in Prestatyn. After all, we have had three rest days in Chester, so we should be in good shape and with Dorothy taking our backpack in the car, it seems an opportunity not to be missed. Also we had been planning to stay in Northop but there did not appear to be any accommodation in the town so we have booked ahead at a pub in the delightful sounding village of Dolphin. Because of our extended destination we have decided to stick with the most direct route we can find while still avoiding main roads.

We find our way out of central Chester relying as usual on Debby's innate sense of direction in towns. We walk along the town wall to the Tower and then on to the Dee River Coastal Path, which is a tremendous purpose built bike and jogging path, which leads straight out of the city up the early stretches of the estuary. We are all surprised when we come to a sign welcoming us to Wales. It feels like we are still in the outskirts of Chester and we had no idea Wales was so close. Keith looks worryingly at the sky, but for the time being it's a very pleasant day with no rain in sight.  He questions whether we really are in Wales. 

We meet a local along the path who tells us within half an hour we will witness one of the great spectacles of the River Dee.  It is the change of tide which will bring with it a significant wave as water begins to pour back up the Dee from the sea.  Apparently there is a 35 ft. spring tide which will flow on today's new moon.  Fancy us happening by at this momentous time.  When the event actually occurs, it is not quite as impressive as we had been led to believe and we see a 10 in. wave followed by endless deep brown effluent flowing back up the river.  We are glad we are not going to be in Chester when all that arrives.

As we press on down the interminably long straight track, Keith begins to worry about Mike's lack of conditioning and just whether this was a good idea of his to join us.  Still, no-one is more game or more determined than Mike, so on we go.  We cross the river just before reaching the power plant, with steel and paper mills in close proximity.  Now we have entered the light industrial area of Connah's Quay.  We are temporarily waylaid while we find an exit which will take us under the rail line and out into the residential area beyond.  Finally we are free and we walk up through a area of domesticity, but one that shows no sign of offering sustenance to now weary travellers looking for lunch.  Keith identifies a pub in Northop Hall on the map and assures the group that within an hour they will be eating a good pub lunch. 

Needless to say, as the group reach the lunchtime pub, having almost deliriously fantasised over the various soups and chicken and ham pies which will be available, all hopes are dashed.  The pub is closed.  Talking to a local, we are told the nearest functioning pub is some distance away.  It seems such a cruel fate, especially with Mike experiencing his first day with us and looking so completely done in.  On leaving this village we do find a small convenience store where Keith is able to obtain the proverbial life saver pork pie, while Debby eats a tasteless chicken salad sandwich.  Mike can't face food but downs a bottle of water at last.  He is eagerly awaiting a call from Dorothy to inform him just when she will be picking him up in the car. 

With Mike's call still awaited and after perching uncomfortably on a sharp stone wall for 15 minutes to have lunch, we press on. Now we are walking through lovely farmland along very small back lanes.  We pass through Northop, which was to have been our original destination today, and can only reflect at the level of tiredness we are experiencing, perhaps this means the decision to extend will prove an unfortunate one.  As we pass by a very chic looking Agricultural College we now realise our pleasant country lanes are taking us up hills into what is even prettier scenery.  However, the last thing we need is hills.  We top out at about 250 mtrs above the sea level we have so recently left behind.  We are all feeling tired and Mike seems to have gone into himself and is just keeping on.  The climate now drives the last nail into the day.  Welsh rain arrives kicking the hiking dogs while we are down.  Finally Dorothy’s call comes to say she is on her way, but lost!  We agree to meet her in Halkyn, a village not far ahead. 

We reach the village at 4.30 and stop in the Blue Bell Inn, where reunited with Dorothy, we consume cups of tea while chatting with the landlord.  Unwittingly we have landed in a walkers’ pub and one that receives about 150 walkers a week through its doors.   We have a good chat with the landlord who is very interested and quite envious of the adventure we are tackling.  He advises us on a great little walk to end our day today, which involves scaling the adjacent Halkyn Mountain for some lovely long distance scenic views.  We are not sure we have it in us to do this, but with the tea having warmed us, we decide to have a go. First though we have our goodbyes to say with Mike and Dorothy.  Mike has done an incredible job and walked nearly 20 miles.  He is red faced and tired out, but has displayed all the features which we know have made him such an awesome competitor during his life so far and of course those genes have passed into his offspring.  Before departing Mike explains the incredible admiration that he has for Debby who has kept going like the rabbit behind Keith’s long striding giraffe. 

We manage to descend to dinner and are very pleasantly surprised to find our pub has a good restaurant with very well cooked food.  While Keith has the lighter option, battered fish with potato wedges 'made on the premises’, Debby goes for the sumptuous lamb shank with all the trimmings.  Yes, she’s gone Welsh already with Welsh lamb and Welsh creamed leeks.  Keith hopes she’s not catching the Welsh bug.  While Keith dozes opposite her at dinner, Debby insists on going for the Cheshire Farm ice cream – stemmed ginger and mint and choc chip flavours!  How she managed to stay awake to eat it is beyond Keith’s comprehension.

When we finally hit the bed, thinking nothing would stop us sleeping, we become aware of the shocking state of the bed.  It makes loud squeaking and creeking noises every time we turn over.  Eventually we pass out.
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Tessa on

We miss you! You all look very well and we can't wait to see you back home!

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