Day 51: Monday 6th June

IMG_0865A day full of interest today.  21 miles was just short of the plan but only by 1 mile.  Very hot again but things did cool down a bit in the afternoon.  The route today took me through The Mendips.  The biggest challenge was to make sure the footpaths I was using would actually get me where I wanted to go as the whole area is criss-crossed with drainage ditches.  Remember the flooding in the Somerset Levels?  I crossed the River Axe at one point, famous for having its source in the Wookey Hole Caves.

IMG_0872After a nice meet up with Hazel for lunch we almost had our 3rd “road closed” nightmare.  Fortunately, the road was closed to traffic but I was able to walk through the roadworks.  Hazel’s diversion wasn’t too bad either so no more than a scare.  All finished off with us staying with our friends Nigel and Bea (and dogs, Jake and Poppy).

Other things seen today:

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Swans and signets
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Millfield School out for a row

 

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Aikido HQ

 

 

 

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Another audience

 

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The closest I will get to Glastobury?

 

 

 

 

Day 50: Sunday 5th June

A later start today as we stayed with Hazel’s sister in USK again last night.  We met up with Rob and Karen Biggin and Phil Lawler in the Fox pub car park at Easter Compton, for Rob and Phil to walk the morning session.  10 miles of countryside, city roads, and the Avon Gorge made it a hugely enjoyable morning.

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Phil & Rob enjoying the Avon Gorge.  Note the tiny shadows.  Hot!

 

After a stop at the Ashton pub to meet up with Hazel and Karen I pushed on and did a further 9 miles to just outside the target of Congresbury.  The late start left me 2 miles short but a couple of things didn’t help.  First, it was too hot in the afternoon.  I don’t know the actual temperature but it was energy-sapping.  The second was a self-inflicted tangle with a bank of brambles.  I was following a cycle track set back from the main road.  After a while it was clear the cycle track was drifting further and further away from the road I was following.  Time to cut across a few fields to get back on track.  One fence climb saw me cut my hand on barbed wire, followed by a horrible clamber through the brambles to get back to the road.  Legs and arms all with thorn cuts and scratches.  Ouch.

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The Avon Gorge completed, so time to leave Bristol.

 

If the hot weather wasn’t good for my walking it must have been awful for the poor folks competing in the Bristol Triathlon.  I hope they were all ok.

And we couldn’t be near Bristol without a mention of Brunel.

Day 49: Saturday 4th June

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Crossing back into England

22 miles and a walk over the old Severn Bridge (M48) saw us back into England and ending the day at Easter Compton.  We managed to get Tony to Bristol Parkway in time for his 5pm train back to Reading.  Thanks for the company Tony.  You walked well and helped make the miles fly by.

 

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So long.  Farewell.  Auf wiedersehen.  Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

Shared below a couple of road signs that made us giggle today, and the reason for one of them.

Day 48: Friday 3rd June

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An interesting bridge on the route


I know this is getting boring but the weather yet again was beautiful today.  Tony is with me for only one more day when we should be back to England and he can return to Eileen, so we pushed the boat out and did an extra 3 miles today.  19 miles total to the other side of Usk, 3 miles ahead of plan, over 800 miles for the journey and over the 1.5 million steps.

 

 

Some days walking is about as good as it gets, and today was one of those days.  The scramble along the river path we were expecting turned out to be a stroll along a perfect tow path beside the Monmouth and Brecon canal.  A very tame heron let us get to within a few feet before hopping to the other side of the canal.  All lovely and worthy of the ice cream reward we gave ourselves.  Yummy.

Another treat tonight as we are staying with Hazel’s sister and family (Jane, Ram, Ben and Ozzie the dog) in Usk, and Sam (our daughter) travelled down in secret to give me a lovely surprise.

Day 47: Thursday 2nd June

Before talking about today’s adventures I need to share a couple of incidents from yesterday that demonstrate that luck has absolutely been on our side so far.

As we walked through a village I popped the phone out of my pocket to check-in with Hazel.  A fumble, followed by a bit of juggling saw the phone tumble out of my hand and straight towards a drain in the road………………..where it landed across the drain slats for me to pick up.  Half an inch either way and it would have been down the drain and into the sewer.

Hazel was also finding it impossible to locate accommodation due to the Hay-on-Wye Festival.  The only room available was a twin with shared bathroom which she initially rejected.  In desperation she went back to the owners to see if they would allow us to bunk 3 in the room.  The outcome was a great night’s sleep for all 3 of us with a hearty breakfast in a lovely location.  Thanks to Dorcas and David at Tara B&B, Felindre, Brecon, LD3 0TB:  http://www.tarabandb.com/ Thanks also for the donation.  Marvellous.

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Entering the Brecon Beacons

Back to today and 18 miles covered from Boughrood to Llangenny.  The route took us over the top of part of the Brecon Beacons.  Just over 600m at the top with glorious views in the perfect weather.  We ate sardines for lunch at the top where we joined two men and a dog.  It was a hard slog up very steep terrain but well worth it.  We also had to ford a surging river (ok, a trickling stream) and had a magical moment paddling aching feet in a brook when we came down off the top.

 

England is beckoning.

Day 46: Wednesday 1st June

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23 excellent miles to Boughrood brings us right back on track.  A long day, somewhat overcast, but great for walking.  The route took us mostly on quiet roads but we did pass close to the Royal Welsh Show grounds in Builth Wells.  Very impressive.

 

Tony and I also continued our Indiana Jones approach to navigation and ended up scaling barbed-wire fences, wading through a bog, and escaping what looked like vampire sheep; all in the interest of finding the old railway we wanted to walk down.

Special thanks today to all at Easthampstead Rotary, and to Neil Sanders from the Hampton Hotel in Llandrindod Wells.  Your generosity is hugely uplifting and will make a real difference.

Over the tops of the Brecon Beacons tomorrow.  Exciting.

Day 45: Tuesday 31st May

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Tony admiring the River Wye


Not a great start to the day when Tony presented himself at breakfast wearing his pyjamas and dripping wet.  “Help.  I’ve locked myself out of my room!”  None of which prevented us getting off to a good start in Llanidoles and covering 20 miles in glorious sunshine to LLanwrthwl.  Just 5 miles behind plan with plenty of opportunity to make up in the coming few days.

 

 

The whole day was pretty much spent walking beside the River Wye on the Wye Valley Walk.  Really lovely, and 19 degrees with the wind at our backs.  There was also an Indiana Jones moment when we had to cross a traditional walker’s bridge.  Scary canary.  We had lunch by a similar bridge which had fallen into disrepair.  Shame.

One of the quirky things I have decided is not to have a haircut until we get home.  Not normally a problem as I sport the monk look anyway, but I see from the selfie above I am starting to develop a mini Mohican.  Should I colour it rainbow style?

Brecon Beacons ahead.  Don’t tell the SAS we are coming.

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A place to really get away from it all
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An interesting fungus

Day 44: Monday 30th May

I need to start with a bit of a confession today.  On Friday, when the walk was done, guess who forgot to turn off the tracker.  Sorry for spoiling the perfect track plot by now including the 90-minute drive back to Llanberis and this morning’s return journey.  What an idiot!  Still, all should look good again from today.

A good transfer back to Llanbrynmair.  I’m being joined by Tony Higgins for the next few days and Tony and I were on our way by 10:45.  Yet another lovely day for walking and we made good time for the 16 miles to Llanidloes where we called it a day.  Yesterday’s trip up Snowdon, the late start, and several significant hills today meant neither of us wanted to go on any further.  We are only 5 miles behind and will definitely make this up in the coming few days.

Nothing specific to report other than a lovely meet up with Hazel for a late lunch at Llyn Clywedog, and Hazel finding a horse contemplating new human neigh-bours.  (an awful joke, sorry).

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Day 43: Sunday 29th May

Despite car park and transport challenges we managed to scale Snowdon today.  The last of the 3 peaks, and dedicated to 3 people who’s passing has played a huge part in my motivation.

  • Alice Hogan, who I never met
  • Gordon Lovell-Read, great friend and Godfather to our children
  • Ruxandra Cottam, Sister-in-law
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A busy day on Snowdon.  A view from the summit towards Llanberis.

 

What a fabulous day, and how lovely to share it with so many good friends.  Thanks to:

  • Graham & Mary Hodge
  • Liz & Andy Mitchell
  • Douglas & Tracey Bowen
  • Ruth & Jeremy Meader
  • Tony Higgins
  • Richard Smith

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Thanks also to Ady our guide from Lakeland Mountain Guides.  Outstanding.  www.lakelandmountainguides.co.uk

And a very special thanks to the anonymous taxi driver from ck-cabs (and the Pen-y-Ceunant Licensed Tea House), who rescued Liz and Andy and got them to the start point on time (just) and donated the taxi fare to the cause.  You are a hero.

Statistics for those needing to know:

Distance covered:                            14,4Km
Elapsed time:                                     7h 06m 45s
Moving time:                                     5h 10m 46s
Stopped time:                                   1h 55m 09s
Average speed (moving):              2.78Km/h
Overall average:                               2.02Km/h
Max height:                                        1,076m

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Thousands must have gone up!

 

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Snowdon

 

 

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The train arrives at the summit.

Day 41: Friday 27th May

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Another lovely day and a shorter walk of 15 miles to Llanbrynmair.  The day started with a choice.  Do I walk down the busy ‘A’ road or the road in the picture?  Easy decision for the country lane.  The short day was to give us time to drive back to Llanberis where we are staying for the weekend and the ascent of Snowdon.


Not a lot else to say really.  The Dyfi Valley is very pretty and I took the photos below along the way.  No blog tomorrow as it is a rest day.  Next stop, the summit of Snowdon.