LEJOG21: Hay-On-Wye to Kington

Grrr. This is one of the posts I’m having to rewrite from scratch due to my stupid
iPhone. Hopefully you won’t be able to tell the difference.

I was half-woken at around 5am by the sound of Gaz packing up his tent. For a change I actually felt glad that I was doing the slower route, rather than feel inferior about it. I had difficulties enough finding time to explore the place I went through, let alone having to do 28 miles in one day as Gaz had to today.

The first half of the day consisted of pleasant undulating green fields with lots of sheep. The sky was full of clouds, many quite dark, but the ground was mostly covered in sunshine although very blustery and with the occasional brief shower. It meant that the land looked bright and glowing but with an ominous sky behind it, a contrast that was quite striking at times.

I was starting to refine my sense of which types of landscapes I prefered. I realized that landscapes which were perfectly fine for group walks could actually feel a bit boring when on your own. Group walks are as much about the social aspects as the landscape – the countryside acts like a facilitator. Solo walks for me needed something a bit meatier, a bit more than just pleasant to make them worthwhile.

The morning was pleasant, but it’s real function was as a lead into the afternoon where the path climbed over two hills. Neither was massive but they both enabled you to see far more of the other hills and mountains that surrounded the route. I started I realize that seeing more also meant understanding more, because you could see the folds and rolls of the landscape in it’s entirity. On the ground the true nature of the landscape was obscured by details such as a single side of a hill or a hedge. Up high you could comprehend everything and see the world in a much clearer and more fundamental way. It was both calming, in that it put petty concerns and interests in perspective, and inspiring, in that it provided a tangible example of the opportunity in life to create or achieve something amazing.

Unfortunately neither of my cameras could capture this feeling, so you’ll have to visit Disgwylfa Hill and Hergest Ridge yourself to find out what I mean. I did managed to take a photo of an erie clump of cactus-like pines on the top of the ridge. They looked like a group of witches who’s spells had backfired, transforming them into these conniferous forms and leaving them only able to glower at the people going about their lives down below.

I descended from the ridge and entered Kington, a strange little town which was half rural idyll and half chav-city. For example, there were lovely quaint shops such as two family butchers and a gentlemans outfitters, but at the same time the pubs were full of weiros and the streets were full of feral kids. I met my mum and Jenna who were both going to be joining me for a day each, and after a lovely Indian meal retired to the Campsite‎.

Here the contractions in the town were repeated. The campsite‎ was hidden behind a grotty bus depot but was lovely, and our tents were pitched next to a babbling stream. Unfortunately the sound of this stream had to fight it out against the pounding sound of the fun fair in the next field pumping out the tinny sound of cheap dance music. Luckily I was so tired from my fill of fresh air, exercise, curry and red wine that nothing could stop me from falling asleep as soon as my head hit the inflable pillow.

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