Day 85 - Throwing off the melancholy of Prestatyn

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

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Where I stayed
Valeside B&B

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Sunday, September 12, 2010

We wake up after a good night feeling okay but somehow the joie de vivre that we are used to feeling as we get set for another day is not there. Keith in particular is filled with a presentiment of concern about whether he has the energy to carry the pack along rough mud footpaths and scale the set of hills which today will confront us. It's been raining hard all night and the dismal day which greets us, as we descend for our basic breakfast, further undermines our efforts to be positive. We check out of this poor quality hotel, with the words of the receptionist ringing in our ears.  Well, she did ask if everything was okay with the meal we had in our room last night, and it all arrived okay.  What else could we do but tell her the meals arrived but with no cutlery or condiments.  "It's the same problem with staff the world over!", she simply explained.

We walked out into the rain at 8.55, determined to give ourselves an early start and every chance to reach our destination, no matter how much we might struggle as the day goes on.  We are in our full wet weather gear as we walk up the first hill and Keith immediately feels chronic tiredness.  This is terrible, this hill is simply the High Street of Prestatyn.  Debby is at her inspirational best as she counsels that we must both set aside our thoughts of what we have done so far on this adventure.  We must create new energy as today we are starting a new adventure, Offa's Dyke Path, and we must be ready to be stimulated and excited by it.  Keith agreed but still felt the damp November of the mind which had enshrouded him these past couple of days.  Oh, how he could relate to Ishmail’s state of mind in those early pages of Moby Dick. 

And then, suddenly, everything changed. How do you ever know what brings on a change so deep and far reaching.  When was the exact moment and what was the cause is anybody’s guess.  If you are reading this blog, please do not think these words are written for dramatic effect.  This was a real sudden change in the way we looked at the world and the way our bodies felt, in the environment we were now entering.  The deep, disconsolate melancholy which Prestatyn had bred in our minds had dried up the sap which had driven us these past two days.  Now the weariness that had lain heavily upon us for the past few days, simply disappeared.  Yes, there were clouds and the rain was subsiding, but now we had glorious views and we were back amongst the heather, bracken and gorse on high, exposed footpaths, seemingly free of people and any encumbrances.  Our hearts lifted, our energy was back and smiles covered our faces.  Our joy was no doubt heightened by the change which had occurred from feeling so bad so recently.  Yet again we experienced the contrast, the yin and yang so necessary to feel life to the full.  If anyone reading this wants to really experience an emotional high, we suggest you go to Prestatyn, which will no doubt give you just the depressing experience you need as a foundation for feeling really good when you leave this downbeat place.

Our path takes us over many stiles and we think of the man we met yesterday with his two large greyhounds who had just completed the Offa’s Dyke Path.  He had lifted these two beasts over every stile and had calculated he had lifted over 2,000 lbs. while doing so.  When we asked him if he had any tips for us, he simply said yes, don’t take dogs with you!  Following the Offa’s Dyke Path is a relatively straight forward affair.  It is very well signposted, in complete contrast to sections of the Pennine Way.  Of course when we set off out of Prestatyn, while Keith was still in a bad frame of mind, he moaned about the total inaccuracy of the map in his guidebook.  Fortunately Debby was able, with calm assurance to guide him to page 2 where we were, rather than him keep searching page 3. 

Our morning walk took us up high and revealed distant views back to the sea and the wind farms and industrial plants on the outskirts of Liverpool.  However, we also were experiencing the delightful country views to the west.  We did our hill walking early to reach these heights quickly and from then on the morning became an undulating walk through pleasant farmland.  Still we are thankful to be away from roads and cars.  Also, we are thankful for nature presenting us with our mid-morning snack of wild blackberries.

We make contact again with civilisation so-called, at a tiny village called Rhuallt, near the oh so busy A55 road.  It’s Sunday lunch time and we go into the Smithy Arms.  We both make unfortunate choices and neither the beef sandwich nor the sausage baguette were up to much.  However, at least we were able to down a pint of bitter and a G&T to celebrate our born again energy.  Setting off from lunch with the Italian Grand Prix half finished and Jensen Button doing a great job for his English supporters, we headed up the road and made our first serious mistake.  We walked a kilometre uphill in the wrong direction and then had to retrace our steps to find the footbridge which would take us across the noisy eyesore of the A55.  This was particularly galling given that our path this afternoon is set to take us up into high hills.  This morning we walked up 180 mtrs from Prestatyn’s sea level and then on to Marion Frith (240m) where we had our morning tea stop.  Now we are heading near the top of Moel Maen-Efa (290m) and then on to the impressive Cefn Du (256m).  Still, our new found energy is surging through our limbs and we are buoyed by the atmosphere we breathe in.  Our day gradually comes to a conclusion as we descend into the tiny hamlet of Sodom (we both think this would be the ideal place for Leigh Betts to live!) and on to Bodfari.

We do not enjoy the extra 15 minutes walk off the path around to our accommodation for the evening, but once we were there we knew it was oh so worth it.  We were greeted by Dee and Alex, who immediately sat us down with tea and cakes and introduced to Margaret and Roger who were set to complete Offa’s Dyke tomorrow as they are walking north. Our room was comfortable.  Our private bathroom had a lovely bath and by the time we were dropped off with Margaret and Roger at the Brookhouse Mill for dinner, we were feeling quite mellow.  All four of us had a lovely seafood risotto with poached salmon as we shared stories of our lives.  Roger and Margaret are experienced long distance walkers who amongst other walks have completed the South West Coast Path which took 55 days spread across 5 years.  They have established a lovely routine of doing two one week walks each year in June and September.  They very kindly offered to send us some leaflets for the South West Coast Path which we will walk to finish our adventure, down to Lands End.  Such are the fortuitous encounters of the long distance walker.
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Morag on

Eddie and I {particularly Eddie} can relate to your Prestatyn experience. There are towns is Scotland which can leave you feeling just as you did even without the physical exhaustion. grey, wet ,depressing -Eddie's home town is a bit like that. This has had such an effect on him that I have known him to change mood as we drive ober the border to Scotland -particularly if it is grey and wet!!! It is also why he has so infrequently returned to Uk since we settled in Australia and why we used to spend most of our time in Scotland in the north in the countryside. So fascinating what an effect our environment has on us.

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