Welcome to the next instalment of my adventure! To recap – I am walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and am including the three peaks of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis in my route. As an extra challenge, I will be wild camping every night.
Day 19: Thursday 7th March 2019
I just caught a dry spell this morning at about 11am, enough to dry the tent a little, but then the drizzle returned.
My route took me mostly through farmers’ fields today, with a fair bit of up and down. I was surprised at the lack of stiles, as the Offa’s Dyke Path has a reputation for them! There were lots of gates though. The path was very well walked and easy to follow, but extremely muddy in places. I needed my gaiters to stop the mud getting into the top of my boots.
I made it to Pandy at about 2pm and received a lovely welcome at the Old Pandy Inn. My meal was great and I was very glad to be inside, as the drizzle had deteriorated into proper rain. The Inn had wifi do it was good to read my blog – thanks, darling! (You’re welcome…)
I left the inn at 3pm and followed the road to rejoin the Offa’s Dyke Path up on the ridge that runs all the way to Hay on Wye. When I reached the trig point I could hardly stand in the wind, however, so this perhaps wasn’t my best route decision. Luckily I found a hollow with a sort of flat spot near the trig point for my tent.
It was good to get cleaned up after all that mud, and get into my snug warm sleeping bag and down jacket. I enjoyed listening to the wind and rain lashing the tent whilst I was comfy and warm! I’d stopped at 4.45pm which was a bit early really, but it was good to give my body a rest and save the energy battling along the ridge in this weather. This is the best part of having no accommodation booked and carrying a tent – I have choices. If it had been a lovely evening, I would happily have continued further along the ridge.
Boots update – they are already leaking. The Goretex lining has failed already. This is not unexpected, as my previous two pairs of Goretex-lined boots also both failed at around 300 miles. It is ridiculous though as the boots are now useless: neither waterproof nor breathable. At least if I had non-lined boots they would dry quickly. You can read more about this and a surprise refund directly from Gore-Tex here.
My USB charger is broken – I have no idea how this happened. My ipod is flat, too, which isn’t good as I listen to it a lot (especially in the wind and rain). Hopefully I can replace the charger soon.
Day 20: Friday 8th March 2019
It rained all night last night, and the wind picked up even more this morning. The wind chill increased (there was ice on the puddles) and I was very glad to drop off the ridge. It seemed to last forever.
As I came off the ridge (a steep drop-off), I found a coach-load of children getting ready to head up. I suggested that they might not enjoy it up there and it looked like they changed their plans, because a little while later they came past in the coach as I was walking down the road. Very sensible.
I reached Hay on Wye at about 12.30pm, ready for a cooked breakfast. The path to Hay on Wye was open and grassy. There were some muddy, slippery bits but it was mostly easy going. I was very glad to have walking poles today, and they saved me from sliding over many times. They give me a lot more reassurance on slippy wet grass, too, which I am walking on a great deal. I have used them a lot more than I expected to on this walk.
After some resupply shopping (including a new USB charger), I left Hay on Wye aiming for the Llowes Public House on the map. I soon discovered that it’s not there, so I carried on disappointed along fields and roads to Glasbury where I found the Foyles Hotel. It looked very posh but I was made extremely welcome, despite being so wet and muddy. They didn’t start serving food for a couple of hours but I didn’t mind the wait, as it gave me a chance to charge everything up. I need my ipod! It also gave me time to sort out the phone mapping, too.
It will be good to have a plan again, as I need some idea of the amount of food I need to be carrying in different sections. I shouldn’t have thought too much about the route ahead though, as it is still a long way to go and it feels like I’ve been going for ages. It looks like I am about a quarter of the way. I need a shower and a clothes wash.
Will I last until the end? Some sunny days may help, but the pub meals, a sit down and a chance to recharge equipment are essential. I feel exhausted and I am missing my own comfy bed, ensuite and washing machine. Now would be a good time for a B&B and a day off – we’ll see how much further I get.
I left the pub and walked a mile or so further to camp in a field near the river. I didn’t get too close to it as it was running quite high due to all the rain and I was worried it might burst its banks.
Day 21: Saturday 9th March 2019
I packed up camp and left at about 4.30am this morning for two reasons: 1. rain was forecast between 6am and 8am, and for once my tent was dry (probably due to the wind in the night). 2. Shortly after pitching last night, bright torch lights were shining all over the place in the fields around me. From then on, I didn’t sleep well so I was glad to move on.
There was a slight moon when I left, enough not to need my head torch. I walked on the roads for most of the morning, mainly to try and keep my feet dry. They were undulating , reasonably interesting and very quiet, which was very welcome. My route was starting to get more remote and higher, as I was heading upriver towards the source of the River Wye. I made it to Builth Wells at 11am for breakfast, coffee and charging my Flip 10.
Later in the day, I reached Newbridge on Wye and entered the pub during a Wales vs Scotland rugby match. Consequently it was pretty busy, but I was made very welcome. I mentioned that my dad used to run the post office here, and he remembered him and shook my hand.
I struggled to find a flat spot to camp tonight, as any suitable spot was too overlooked by properties. I had to walk a few miles on from the pub, eventually taking a flat-ish bit of grass next to the track, hidden by trees. The rain started again just as I had finished making my evening coffee, which was lucky!
Day 22: Sunday 10th March 2019
This morning I woke to rain, so I laid back down and seriously considered staying there in my secluded spot for the whole day! I was tucked out of the wind that I could hear whistling through the trees around me.
It got light and the rain stopped, so I thought I had better get up. At 7.30am, it was my latest start yet. I walked some paths but mostly quiet lanes to arrive in Rhayader at about 9.45am, in time for breakfast.
Whilst I was walking across a play area to photograph a waterfall, I stopped concentrating and slipped over on a slab in the grass. Luckily I didn’t damage anything, just bruises, but I could have smashed my phone as I was checking my GPS at the time. Thank goodness it’s a tough phone as I dropped it straight on the screen. I’ve learned my lesson to always check my footing.
I left Rhayader by road and headed north towards Pant-y-dwr. It was so windy it was difficult to walk straight, so I was glad I’d stuck to the road. The pub at Pant-y-dwr was extremely welcome, and I stopped for a pint (but no food). The chap in the pub asked me what I was doing and offered me a place to camp in his field at the next place I was heading to, which I was very grateful for.
I continued on quiet roads all the way to Llanidloes, just making it to the Co-op before it closed. I needed supplies to last me the next two days. I also stopped for a rest and a pint, planning to camp as soon as possible afterwards as I really was feeling I had walked far enough.
I camped a mile or so out, and has a coffee, a Pot Noodle and a bread roll for dinner. I didn’t have to worry about finding water as there was a small stream a metre away from my camping spot.
An easy day on the roads today has done me good I think, and eating proper meals lately (apart from tonight’s Pot Noodle!) has helped me to feel much better. It will be interesting to see how I cope over the next few days without proper meals (just whatever I can find in a Co-op), as I head into more remote country on my way to Snowdon.
You can read the next installment of my adventure here.