Day 96 - Walking in the wet into book heaven.

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

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Where I stayed
York House B & B

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Thursday, September 23, 2010

 We don't sleep too badly but Keith did spend the night imprisoned with the bars of the head rail against his head and his feet pushed against the foot rail of the iron bedstead.  It was pouring with rain as we looked out of the window, another normal day in Wales.  Before breakfast we took time out to pay attention to the detail that is required in a marathon adventure of this sort.  Feet needed to be inspected and rubbed and toenails needed to be inspected and trimmed wherever clipping was possible.  It is remarkable that in nearly 100 days of walking we have each had only one or two tiny blisters right at the very start.  However we know, we can take no risks and the key is to pay attention to the small details day to day. 

We descend for breakfast and realise what it is we dislike most about staying in pubs.  No matter how welcoming our hosts, and how charming the bar room feels in the evening with a fire going and people standing in quiet conviviality around the bar, in the morning there is no more soulless place on earth.  Looking for inspiration Keith picks up the two day old copy of the Daily Telegraph and reads of Simon English who epitomises the inherant eccentric nature of the Englishman.  He has just repeated a walk that he created 40 years ago.  He is a conceptual artist who came up with a walk by drawing the word 'England' across a map of England and then walking the 275 miles on the landscape that these letters traversed.  Apparently 40 years ago he slept under hedgerows and hitched lifts between the letters.  At least as a 61 year old he now stayed in B&B's.  This article really fires up Keith's mind to come up with an even more eccentric walk in the future. 

We are keen to get to our destination today.  We are going to Hay-on-Wye which in case you don't know is now considered to be the second hand book capital of the world.  As many of you will know, Keith's passion is second hand books and so this is book heaven for him.  Can you imagine a small village where there is one second hand bookshop for every 30 permanent inhabitants - oh joy.  We are on the road at a remarkably perky 8.55.  The heavy overnight rain has subsided but everywhere is dripping.  Even without rain on our bodies our shoes and feet are soaked in a matter of minutes after we set out.  Our sealskin socks seem to have lost their effectiveness, and boy do they smell bad after four days on the track.  Today is an easier shorter walk and we are soon up a hill through farmland and then progress into the lovely open common land which was so much a feature of yesterday.  We see the usual array of farm animals, including chickens which scurry around a farmyard we pass through.  The sumptuous green wetness under our feet also sees frogs leaping out of our path.  Keith has his nearest run in with a rabbit this morning as one hops out just before he puts his foot down on a clump of thick grass. 

We are soon up to our summit for the day Disgwylfa Hill (360m) and then too soon we descend down to Newchurch.  No sooner do we arrive than we are walking back out up a steep incline onto the side of Little Mountain (357m) and back onto a small farm lane, another field.  And then its another lane which is quite boring having high hedgerows on either side of us restricting any vision from the small tarmac strip in front of us.  We know there is another world inside the hedgerow which will be teeming with life but unfortunately we don't know how to look and appreciate what would be a fascinating world we are sure.  We come out of the lane and start descending into thick woodland with very slippery muddy paths.  These are the moments in the walk which are possibly the most dangerous and we take care, especially as the rain begins to drizzle.  We cross the not to busy A438 road and know that we are now getting very close to our destination.  We are now by the side of the very impressive River Wye.  And we have to traverse three or four large tracts of farmland.  Now, as we approach the second field which has been prepared for potato growing and hence is just a brown muddy expanse, the rain begins to descend seriously.  Debby suggests we put on an inch in height as the mud cakes on our trail shoes as we work our way across the mire. 

With the farmland finally behind us we are back along the very banks of the River Wye and our senses are dominated by a fragrant perfume wafting from more than 100 metres away.  We are approaching a huge bank of wildflowers and their fragrance captivates us as the rain subsides and we cannot keep smiles from our faces.  And then we are there, Hay-on-Wye.  We go to our B&B to drop our bags and eat the sandwiches we have made for ourselves at breakfast.  It's a late lunch but now we can focus on the important things.  We go straight to the library and commence our beloved blog.  We meet at the library a charming assistant, Jane, who delves in to look at our blog and when we return tomorrow morning will be ready with a fact sheet on the Welsh language proving that not only that their are vowels in Welsh, but that Welsh is easier to pronounce than English.  Well, we're not sure about that but at least the mists surrounding this old Celtic language are beginning to part a little.

For dinner this evening we go to the Red Indigo Indian restaurant and must quickly mention that this is possibly the best Indian food we have ever eaten.  If ever you get to Hay-on-Wye be sure to give this place a go. 
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Morag on

Ah you are in Hay on Waye. Keith I am very impressed that you showed such restraint and blogged before hitting the book shops!

clifford on

Its a sunny Sunday in Elwood, the monthly medal has been swum and won, the hellbergers have returned....the grandfinal is at halftime (scores level) with the second half to be played next weekend, the first Saturday in October...This leaves Geelong still as premiers..for 1 more week. Kills retail of course, no book buyers, next Saturday afternoon. Well Keith, what took your fancy at HoW? pray do tell, surely something to read along the way and something to post back, perhaps a small leather bound version of ??.
Here in bookworld, lost to do and so litlle time to read all the wonderfull treasures that keep arriving. keep walking

Carol and Brian on

Once again we are so impressed with your courage and fortitude and know that you will feel both elated and sad when you finally reach the end of your adventure. We always enjoy reading your blog but the Llangollen to Hay-on- Wye stretch has brought back many happy memories for us. We too crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - the easy way - by boat! Keep on looking after the feet and enjoying the local beer!

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