LEJOG20: Pandy to Hay-On-Wye

Sorry for the delay last week, this has been due to lots going on in the evening and no rest days in which to catch up. Hopefully normal service will be resumed by the end of the week.

Thursday was the third day of Offa’s Dyke, a day of mountain ridge walking over the Black Mountains. I left Karen and Dave’s early after another night of being well looked after. I realized that i was receiving the hospitality of the third Dave on this trip so far. I wonder if there’ll be any more?

Karen had told me that the ascent to the Black Mountains didn’t take long and wasn’t too steep or painful. This was only half true in my case. I got up there in about an hour but it was a torturous experience, and all due to re weight of my bag. From the moment inset off it felt heavier than it ever had before, and i had to drag myself and it up a series of steepish paths, all the while cursing my inability to travel light.

However, it was worth it in the end as at the top there was a big amazing view stretching out to a hazy point of infinity. To my right were undulating green fields, each one a different shape making the landscape look like crazy paving. Behind me and to my left were more mountains, some sticking up on their own while others folded together to form ridges. Their summits were all
brown and barren looking in complete contrast to the fertile green of their lower slopes. In front of me was an apparently endless ridge -the brown hairiness of afar was revealed to be a mix of light green, dark green and yellow heather.

As I walked along this ridge I contemplated what it was about being up this high that was so satisfying and relaxing. I thought it was maybe something to do with being separate from the ground below, elevated both physically and spiritually from everyday life. It was inspiring and rejuvenating. I realised that it was this specialness that I craved in the landscapes I walked. The pleasant meadows of the previous days were merely a means to an end – getting to this place where all the mundune frustrations melted away and the amazing nature of what I was doing became immediately apparent.

I walked on like this several hours, and after a while was caught up by Gaz and a guy I’d met the previous day who was doing the southern section of Offa’s Dyke. We continued on while the mountain ridge changed from dry heathers to wetter, darker peat, and the paths were replaced by flagstones to make progress easier. Gaz remarked that this type of landscape was what awaited us on the Penine way. Exciting!

Finally we descended into Hay-On-Wye. It was an extremely pretty little place with an inexplicable number of second hand bookshops. Unfortunately i couldnt really indulge as the buying of (heavy) books was anathema to me in my quest to cut down my load. A browse would have been too much of a tortuous tease. Luckily there was an outdoors shop, which I entered with much glee and Gaz’s reminder that just because i was going in didn’t mean I had to buy something (I think Gaz has completely clocked my shopaholic streak-I didn’t realize it was so obvious). I helped gaz get some walking poles and I bought something so pointless and mundane I’m embarrassed to tell you what it is. Of course, I took longer deliberating over this £3 geegaw than Gaz did choosing and paying for his far more important and expensive items.

Afterwards we had a couple of well earned pints and picked up lunch for the next day-slices of chorizo and a hunk of Snowdonian cheddar from a lovely little deli. If this all sounds idyllic it’s because it was, and it only got better.

Our campsite‎ that night was at Baskerville Hall, an old stately home which had once inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write the famous Shirlock Holmes book and which now was a hotel with a campsite‎. Although it was slightly tired around the edges (the carpet, tables and chairs looked like they’d taken from an old peoples home) there was a concert taking place that night featuring a couple of American singer-songwriters called Nate Campany and Kim Richie. Me and Gaz decided that it seemed silly not to go and so we got tickets to see a really enjoyable show; just a person on stage with a guitar singing and reminding you just how good that can sound. Gaz bailed before the last act came on (he had to get up for 5am in preparation for a 28 mile stretch the next day) and I was almost falling asleep when they finished with the music helping me on my way to slumbersville with a little lift in my heart. The perfect end to a long but satisfying day.

2 Responses to “LEJOG20: Pandy to Hay-On-Wye”

  1. 1 karen May 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Glad you made it to hay. I was getting anxious about the lack of blogs and your live tracker showed you getting no further than Pandy-right next to where you had to cross the railway line in fact -only a few hundred metres from where I dropped you off!When all this is over and you feel you can face walking again come and see us again and explore our lovely black mountains a little more.

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