Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Day eight. Llanwddyn to Meifod. 15.25 miles.

The wet one. And the sunny one. A strange day, nay, a schizophrenic day no less. 8 miles of drizzle, followed by 7 miles of sun, with lunch in a chapel in between.

First, the wet bit. I had breakfast with other people for a change, a friendly couple from Neath. He had done Glyndwr's Way three years ago, in a heatwave, and had suffered with both the heat and blisters. I should therefore have been grateful that it was raining this morning, but I wasn't. The forecast, as on day four, was for improving weather, though this time I wouldn't be able to wait for it to arrive as it was happening later. I wanted to have a mosey around the village, (as it is a tourist haven, albeit of mid-Wales proportions) so put on the waterproofs (for only the third time, and each of the other times was for a short shower) and hit the craft shops, both of them. I then went to see the sculpture park below the dam, which had over 50 (wet) sculptures made by artists from all over the world. The quality was very high but this one had something special that the others didn't, though I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

My last call was to the RSPB Centre and shop, where I had a feathery chat with two nice shop assistants (who spent the whole time I was there trying to prove that two assistants were actually needed), and made a purchase, a memento from Glyndwr's Way. Meet Randy...

Well Randy is a provisional name. He's a red kite, see, so for alliteration's sake his name must begin with 'R'. Randy was the, er, first thing that came into my head. I know it's not great but the second was Roger, and Roger the red kite doesn't work too well either. I'll work on it (suggestions on a postcard please).

Towards the end of today's walk I was quite surprised to see a red kite floating around. I could hear another one too, but couldn't see it (oh, I'm a bit of a buzzard/red kite connoisseur these days). I was only surprised because it was a few days since I'd last seen one. Anyway that's six I've spotted now. Plus Randy.

When I finally began walking it was 11:15, but the poor weather meant head down and march, so despite some steep ascents I'd done eight miles by 2pm. This was at a hamlet called Dolanog. I have no idea what the scenery was like during these first eight miles because I couldn't see it, but I did notice that Owain was sharing his path with somebody called Ann Griffiths, who must have had religious connections because her path symbol was a bible (Owain's is a dragon, much more rock'n'roll). All was explained at Dolanog, where I took refuge in a chapel dedicated to her, and the many Welsh hymns that she had written. I felt slightly guilty using her chapel as a picnic area and shelter from the permadrizzle, but she undoubtedly forgave me, because when I emerged twenty minutes later it was to glorious sunshine. Not only that but there was not a cloud in sight. Simply put this was a miracle, a meteorological miracle in fact, and in return I have vowed to learn and recite one of Ann's enduring masterpieces, possibly at school (in the toilet if I'm not wanted for an assembly).

Now for the dry bit. Well dry bits are simply not as interesting as wet bits, so basically the sun came out, the waterproofs were off and I managed to get burned because I failed to notice how hot it actually was. There was at least some scenery to be seen, which began after lunch with a pretty walk next to a river, something unusual for this walk as normally it tends to stay high wherever possible. I arrived at yet another possible en route pint stop, with no hope of the pub actually being open as it was in a tiny village off the beaten track, it was Monday and it was 4pm. Surely it wouldn't be open. It wasn't.

I wasn't that bothered because I only had 3 miles to go, so wandered off towards the final hill of the day. I realised that it was yet another summit that was going to be bypassed and was keen to see the view from the top, so up I went. I wasn't disappointed, and ended up spending an hour up there looking at the views, which included Llanymynech, a village on Offa's Dyke, and England. Not far to go now.

Actually part of the reason I stayed up there so long was because I finally had a phone signal, so I could post my backlog of blog entries to prove that I really was still alive and send a few texts. I could see my destination, the King's Head at Meifod, from the top of the hill and the thought of a well earned pint finally lured me down.

The pub has indeed got good beer (Greene King IPA), a lovely lounge, a lively bar and it looks great outside. The only problem, and a common one in pubs, is the room. It's really not very nice, and as with last year the b&bs have proved to be far better. I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't £40, the most expensive I've stayed in bar Lloyd's, which was a hotel and looked like one. At least the other pubs had both been £25 and dismal. I've ordered a steak to celebrate nearly finishing Glyndwr's Way. It'd better be good.

It was good. Fillet steak with caramelised red cabbage and a leek sauce. Served with chips (the first I've had, apart from the wedges that were actually chips) and veg. Meal rating 9/10. One point docked for an over-abundance of caramelised red cabbage.

So the last day of Glyndwr's Way tomorrow, followed by two days with Jen on Offa's Dyke to get back to the car in Knighton. Welshpool isn't the greatest place to finish a long walk like this, but I suppose it's better than Prestatyn or a muddy cliff overlooking the River Severn.

-- Posted from my iPhone

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