Walking Wales - Days 12 to 1709 October 2014
A lot to catch up on. I’ve covered about 75km since my last post; Rhyader to Builth Wells to Brecon to Abergavenny.
Brecon marked the end of the second stage of the journey, that of the lower lands of mid-Wales. Still wonderful countryside, but more rolling hills and walking on B-roads. There was no problem getting my new waterproof jacket, I ordered it the day before reaching Builth Wellsit and was in the Post Office by midday. I spent most of that day in a little cafe called The Cwtch, which in english would roughly translate to The Snuggle. It had sofas by the window and WiFi. I had breakfast, tea, cake and lunch there. I even caught a quick nap. It’s a rare opportunity to spend the day lazing, watching the world go by and having food cooked and brought to you.
My new jacket had to prove itself straight away. There was a lot of rain on the two nights it took to get to Brecon, especially the second day with the thundery showers. That second night was particularly bleak; I was exposed on the moors as dusk came, I needed to get lower down quick. This has happened a few times where I need to find somewhere, anywhere to camp, but all I can see is slopes and sheep fields. But I passed some woods that I could see had a meadowy floor, perfect for a tent and shelter! A left my backpack and explored. To get there I had to go through a ravine with steep muddy sides, for some reason there was, what seemed to be, a plastic sheep in it. Weird, but I carried on looking for a flat spot to camp. I found one, but it was overlooking the plastic sheep. On closer inspection, it was not plastic, it was real. I thought it was plastic because it was stood still and facing, trance-like towards the side of the ravine. It had a head injury and was clearly blind. It had no way of escaping the ravine and rejoining its flock. I was simultaneously horrified and transfixed. I wasn’t going to camp here, but I spent a good few minutes taking in the sight of the poor creature. Do we all not feel so injured and blinded sometimes, that we fear we may lose all hope of finding our way again? Instead I found a disused house further down the road that had a flat and overgrown road leading to it. It looked haunted, but I preferred it to the sheep.
I had my first proper rest day in Brecon, where I spent two nights in a row without moving camp. Susie and Noel at Priory Mill Farm where welcoming and generous, I could have stayed longer. My aunty and uncle came out to meet me and bought me lots of food. I was joined by my friend Hat, who camped and cycled some of the way with me. Fantastic to have company on the actual walking. At Crickhowel two more friends came to visit, Sam and Andy, they did some filming, I felt like some kind of rockstar. Then the next day I was joined by my friend Alan, who lives right on the canal path I was walking. So I was joined for a day by two people, Hat and Alan. On the Sunday evening, my mum, brother and niece drove up to see me, they walked me out of Abergavenny. My brother managed to persuade the owner of a private track to let me walk through to take a significant shortcut. Thans Rob!
I think there are only four days left now, so possibly arriving home on Thursday. I have mixed feelings. I sway between seeing myself as an intrepid explorer surviving with high-tech equipment in hardy conditions and a homeless drug addict, smelly, living out of bags, avoiding the realities of getting a job. I will certainly be excited and emotional to get back to Bristol, but I will also deeply miss this way of life. It’s an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget.
I have 20km to do today, I hope to reach Monmouth which is at the top of The Wye Valley. The leaves are just starting to turn their Autumn hues and The Wye Valley is mostly woods, so it could be quite spectacular for the rest of the journey to Chepstow.