Day 95 - Is Wales welsh for hills??!!

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

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Where I stayed
The Royal Oak Inn

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last night was a bad one with poor interrupted sleep and at 5.30 we are up to prepare for the day.  Keith goes downstairs to make the traditional early morning cup of tea and feels the autumn tingle in his bare feet.  A strange sensation passes through his body and he is compelled to go out the back door and stand in the cold, dim early morning light.  It takes a few minutes before he realises what strange chemical reaction is going on inside his body.  It's a feeling he hasn't experienced for a long time.  He's being called to swim!  His whole body is crying out to walk out into the ocean and swim with his dear B team friends.  It's hard to believe he has been walking for over three months and only now is the swimming calling to him.  Clearly something inside his body is saying 'it's time to get back to the really important things in life'.  Given that we are probably 100 miles from the nearest ocean, swimming will have to wait for the moment.

We have our final self-made breakfast at the cottage and are in the car at 9.25 with our backpacks fully packed ready to be carried for the first time in three days.  At 11.05 and with profuse thanks to Mary and Lance for all their help, and another long drive this morning, we walk off into misty cloud conditions.  Soon the vaguely queasy sensations in our stomachs from the long drive here around windy roads has passed and we have risen up from farmland back into sun on the hills above.  Now we walk along like zombies.  It was as though all our bodily functions were focussed on generating the energy to walk.  We had no other reserves to think or talk, we simply walked.  Even nature could not stir us from our mental void and the popping acorns that grand oak trees sprinkled onto our heads were to no avail.  At first there was a dim awareness of our silence, but later when we discussed it at lunch we realised neither of us had felt at all bad about the absence of communication.  We realised that silence is not bad and that a deep peace had descended upon us.  It took us to a place where our minds were completely at rest, while our body was moving along.  And yet, our mind was open to what was going on around us, and our senses became alive.  In short, it became very comfortable and restorative. 

Our first hill this morning was Granner Wood (372m) before we descended down past Evenjobb to cross Ditchyeld Bridge where we listened to a loud siren coming across the open fields from a quarry in the distance.  The siren went on for 5 full minutes, during the middle of which a small explosion took place, more like a pop from a toy gun than a blast powerful enough to move rocks.  For us the siren was much worse than the explosion.  There had been a nasty smell in Granner Wood which, whether it came from animals or plants, was frankly quite off putting.  Now we were out walking across fields, there was another smell as if the farmer has dressed his crops with the leftovers from a brewery process.  Next we had to climb up to the top of Herrock Hill (370m) and then on up to the top of Rushock Hill (370m also).  Here we sat for lunch at 1.50 and took our customary half hour break to consume the sandwiches Debby had again made at breakfast. 

We then had a long descent into Kington, a sizeable enough village but not one that appealed to us.  We stopped at the old time Regency Cafe and had some homemade cake with a cup of tea, while rain spots appeared in the street.  Keith is not feeling his normal self today and as he eats the cake his stomach grumbles and moans.  He decides something is afoot and retires to the family bathroom above the tiny tea room.  It's like he's stepped back 30 years and has walked into the bathroom used by the woman's family that run the tea rooms.  While contemplating his existence he realises just how tired he feels and tries to pass the time by working out how many days walking remain ahead of him.  He is shocked to find his mind has turned to counting how many days are left.  To move from a wonderful adventure and counting the days forward to simply looking to establish a number of days which he can tick off is frightening.  (Later that day we worked out there are only 36 more walking days to Lands End.  Although we are tired from our exploits, we both feel sad at the prospect that the end of our adventure is so near.  We agree to let go of this figure and keep counting forwards and not looking for an end.)

After a very indulgent 45 minute break for tea we set off to tackle the final hills before this day concludes.  We walk straight up out of the village on a small lane that gradually deteriorates into a farm track which gradually disappears to a small goat track leading across open moorland.  There were six arrows of climb on our map from the village up to the top of Hergest Ridge (425m) and we seem to do it easily.  The top of this common land moor is a wonderful open expanse.  It's like being on Dartmoor and there are even Dartmoor ponies grazing in the wild with the sheep. We have watched the birds of prey circling, scouring the moorland for their prey and now their place is taken in the skies by three more fiercesome flying bodies.  We find out later this is the Navy Air fleet practicing dog fights over the very top of our heads and sometimes flying below us off the side of this high moor.  These three jets demand our attention and we are captivated by their energy, sound and aerobatics.  All too soon we reach the end of the moor and begin our final descent for the day into the little village of Gladestry.  It took less than two hours to walk here from Kington but what sumptuous walking it was.  We arrived with our senses sharpened and feeling like our energy was quite restored.  It had started raining on the top of the moor and we arrived weather beaten but feeling good.

Tonight we rest in a remote pub in a tiny village.  How remarkable then that sitting in the bar in front of a small and very welcome log fire, that Keith finds amongst the four locals drinking at the bar, a man who has lived in Streatham. Keith was born and grew up in this South London suburb and he, in his youth, drank at the Leigham Arms.  What a coincidence therefore that this man had lived in Leigham Court Road.  Such are the small touches that colour our adventure.  This pub had the right idea about offering food.  They had a menu that consisted of five classic pub fare items.  Not for them the long list of impossibly complicated dishes which spoke of freezers, microwaves and packaged sauces.  We had the steak and ale casserole and the chicken and leek pie and both were very good.  In fact, the rhubard and raspberry crumble which we shared for dessert was one of the best we have had on our entire trip. The highlight of this pub however, was neither the building, the owners or the food, it was Tinkerbell.  This oh so appealing black toy poodle was in command of her human owners and soon captured our hearts.
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Morag on

Seems like you are having a marathon of blogging over the last few days. I just received an email with a link to another friend's blog -very different a family wedding in Barbados! Think I prefer reading about your adventure's and achievments!
About the silence didn't Krishnamacharya recommend an hour's silence at least every day? Such rich experiences you are having on all levels of your being. we are off to walk along the river into the sunset!

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