Day 86 - A day with the best and worst companions

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

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Plas Efenechtyd B&B

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Monday, September 13, 2010

We both awake to the alarm at 6.35 am. This is a first as we both slept really well. Debby says it was a real restorative sleep, just what she needed. She is convinced there is magic at play in Dee's Valeside B&B.  Dee did talk yesterday about the special feeling this house has and the fact it was on an old pilgrimage route and certainly we have benefited from this wonderful feeling.  Waking up today we cannot describe how different is our state of mind from just 24 hours ago.  And then there was breakfast!!  Bowls of fresh fruit,  including freshly picked blackberries, with yoghurt, muesli followed by perfectly poached eggs and bacon for Keith and softly scrambled eggs and tomatoes for Debby.  Let's not forget also the terrific homemade marmalade for our toast.  Dee's easy manner gently communicating and listening helps the conversation always flow comfortably.  By the time we walk out of Valeside it is 9.20 and we feel we have been nurtured and replenished, it has been a balm for our weary souls.

We know today will be a challenging day as we walk up into the Clwydian Hills.  We pause at the local store before starting our walk to look for food.  The offering is pretty sad so we limit our purchases to the inevitable pork pie for Keith and a double Snickers bar for him.  He’s determined not to lose any more weight.  We are also carrying a pair of two day old pasties purchased in Prestatyn so we figure we won’t starve.  Our path takes us across a pleasant small bridge over the tiny River Wheeler and then we are on a path going southeast rising up through bracken.  We pass just south of Moel Y Parc (398 m) and the nearby radio mast, probably reaching about 320 mtrs above sea level before going on some steep climbs up to a Hill Fort at Pen-Y-Cloddian (440m).  We now have glorious views all around us and despite the slogging up hills Keith reflects on just the perfect companionship of expansive views.  One can be perfectly at peace with oneself as views make no demands, but speak silently of times past and stimulate with a patchwork of variety taking one out of oneself, always lifting and inspiring as all weariness is cast out.  The Vale of Clwyd that is offering such support today is a rare gem which we feel we discovered and as we look out across the green valley floor with its historic towns of Denbigh and Ruthin, we realise we are in the midst of something quite special.  This range of Clwyd hills which we are walking through separates this enchanting wide valley from the more industrial landscape of Deeside. 

Unfortunately walking through hills involves descents which no sooner are completed than another climb presents itself.  So we descend to face the steep climb back up this time to Moel Arthur (455m).  Once again we are thrust steeply down to cross a small road before having to tackle a real killer climb straight up, very steep, near Moel Llys-Y-Coed and on to Moel Dywyll (472m).  We still continue upwards ever higher to a cairn where Debby attempts unsuccessfully to stop for lunch, and we drop down a few metres to gain some protection from the wind which is now fierce.  We sit down and eat our pasties and pork pie.  We probably get more sustenance from the wonderous views of the valley we are soaking up.  We gird ourselves for a short descent which takes us down to our next steep climb all the way up to Moel Fammau (555m) which is English means Mother Mountain, the highest in the range of Clwyd hills.  Here we look at Jubilee Tower which was built in 1810 to celebrate George III.  The Tower is in a ruined state despite the fact it has been rebuilt many times.  It is here the wind and the forces of nature that reign supreme. 

The wind today is frightening. Keith reflects that if glorious views are the best walking companion, the wind is its most terrible evil twin. The wind is always nagging and demanding, sapping energy and chilling body and bones.  Fingers go numb, and balance is threatened, the mind loses its ability to focus on anything but battling this harsh companion.  To climb up into Jubilee Tower with a large backpack, Keith drops his book and walking stick and reverts to moving around like a bloated housefly on hands and feet.  Such is the effect of this wicked Welsh wind.        

           We retreat down on a long stretch from Jubilee Tower spending a passing moment with a Russian PhD Classics student from Leeds University.  It never ceases to be interesting and diverse, the people one meets while walking.  This young man, despite carrying a damaged knee, had run off to collect Debby’s backpack cover which had been ripped off by the merciless winds up at the tower.  There was one final climb back up again to skirt Foel Fenlli (511m) which when Keith suggested we bag this peak Debby exclaimed in no uncertain Australian terms that was out of the question.  Keith has been in Australia over 20 years now and he understood the expletive well despite being somewhat shocked!!  And so the day gradually wound down as we descended through farmland past the brown-est of cows and some lovely old Hawthorn trees.  It was in an uplifted and exhilarated state of mind that we walked in the Restaurant Café at Clwyd Gate on the A494 road to await our pick up by the owners of tonight’s B&B.  We had arrived at 3.40 pm and although tired, would say we’ve had just six of the best, most exhilarating hours.  A great walk and Keith has to admit, finally, that he’s prepared to change his mindset about Wales.  We are in love with the Vale of Clwyd.  However, it did rain today and that makes five straight days in Wales and its rained every day – some things never change.

After two coffees and over an hour to consider the menu, we were quite keen to simply spend the night here at the Clwyd Gate restaurant.  However, David and Marilyn had different ideas which turned out really good.  They drove us from the restaurant to their charming hideaway B&B in the tiny centre of Efenectyd, close to Ruthin and yes, we do now know how to pronounce the village name thanks to Marilyn’s brief Welsh lesson.  How marvellous to be surrounded by wonderful countryside and be greeted by a clutch of chickens and a 25 year old deaf and blind duck.  To walk up the footpath to this delightful house around a magnificent Holyoak Tree immediately reassured us we had made a good choice for the night and we have to give thanks once again to Dee for recommending it.  Our hosts ran us in to the town of Ruthin where we consumed a delicious Welsh lamb shank with roasted root vegetables, really yummy with an Australian red to accompany it. 

By the time we slid into bed, just after 9 pm, it was with a feeling of real satisfaction.  The food and hospitality we have received since we have left Prestatyn has been a delight.  Our bodies, although not as full of energy as they were three months ago, are coping with the rigours of this walk.  We still have nagging aches in various body parts and Keith’s left calf muscle still lets him know it’s there on the steeper hills.  After a day on the hill paths it is Debby’s feet which also continue to talk to her.  They always appreciate a lovely massage after a hot bath.  However, worrisome problems like the extended infection at the bottom of Keith’s left leg seem to fix themselves.  Keith, while sitting in the bath yesterday, found a large thorn, over 1 cm long, had suddenly come out of the infection in his leg.  Given time the body seems able to fight off and eject any alien matter.  These are all good signs that our bodies are still functioning well.  Of course this does not account for some of the mental activity which goes on.  Like today when Debby questioned Keith’s assertion that we needed to go west.  Is that real west or your west meaning east?  Well, replied Keith, I know where I’m going but the trouble is they’ve put both east and west between north and south, whoever invented this compass should have put them in different places! 
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Morag on

I want to know what swearie Debby used!!!

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