Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Day four. Llanidloes to Dylife. 12.75 miles.

Well, this was the one I'd been waiting for. The one I'd heard all about en route. The Star Inn at Dylife. To split the 28 miles from Llanidloes to Machynlleth into two fairly even days this is the only place to stay. According to those I had spoken to, basically a God-forsaken pub in a God-forsaken place. So would my pre-conceptions turn out to be mis-conceptions or, er, conceptions? I decided to be open-minded, after all Dylife was once a thriving lead-mining community high in the Welsh hills, with numerous pubs and many houses. It couldn't be that bad now, could it?

So I woke up this morning and it was chucking it down. I went for breakfast. Tom and Roy were bustling around with still no sign of the wives. I'm sure they'll be back soon. Tom, or was it Roy, told those of us present several quite funny teaching anecdotes whilst staring wistfully into the middle distance. Maybe b&b life is not for him after all. It was still pouring down but the forecast was for better weather later, so I made the decision to start walking at 11:30 as I only had 13 miles to go. Good move. By then we were back to sunny intervals again, which continued all day except for a couple of hours in the afternoon when it constantly looked like it was going to pour down again, but never did.

The walking today was hard work. Lots of ups and downs throughout the day. For scenery though it was the best yet, starting in rolling farmland and gradually getting wilder and more remote, via the superb Clywedog Reservoir and dam. I actually saw quite a few tourists today near the reservoir, though most of them got out of their cars and then very obviously couldn't decide what to do so got back in again. To be fair I stopped late on at a picnic site with a nature trail, which was marked on a big map board and was the only thing to do there. I decided to follow it (obviously not enough nature on my own trail). It took me two and a half minutes.

The dam though was very impressive, if not attractive (though the valley itself was stunning), with an old lead mine and a salmon hatchery at the bottom. The dam from below...

...and from above.

I realised this afternoon that the only music I've heard so far are the songs I put on the jukebox in Llangunllo, my iPhone alarms (Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield first, to wake me up gently, then Us v Them by LCD Soundsystem when the first alarm hasn't got me up) and the ones I sing while I'm walking. This habit tends to become more frequent and louder the longer I've been on my own. Today I caught myself singing, amongst others, Reward by Teardrop Explodes, several songs by The Beat and Whispering Grass by Don Estelle and the other one, the sergeant major from It ain't half hot mum (complete with intro - "sing it Lofty boy"). This last one is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you've been on your own too long, but at least on this walk there is no danger of anyone overhearing me. In fact I am becoming convinced that nobody else has ever done Glyndwr's Way before, because I haven't seen anyone, and people say things to me like "What? You're doing all of it?". In fact I'm pretty convinced that Owain Glyndwr didn't do it either because he spent his whole time on a horse, and hardly any of these paths are bridleways so he wouldn't have been allowed.

Tomorrow is the big one. The day when I could do with decent weather (and an early start) to walk the wildest 15 miles of the route. Then I get to see Jen and Liz who are joining me for two nights and I will get a day off on Friday so we can visit the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth. May be a short blog tomorrow.

When I first saw Dylife I was actually quite impressed. It's in a beautiful spot in which you can see the remains of the mine, but it's not littered with derelict houses. There is nothing here now but the pub and a couple of houses dotted about. There were people in the pub eating when I arrived at 7, three families in fact. I decided to take a positive stance from the start, so here are some of the things I don't mind about the Star at Dylife:
I don't mind that the bed is so soft it sinks like a hammock.
I don't mind that my towels smell.
I don't mind that the ceiling in my room is damp and looks like it's about to collapse.
I don't mind that the ceiling in the bathroom is collapsing.
I don't mind that the bath has cigarette burns.
I don't mind that the menus and tables are sticky.
I don't mind that the hand pumped bitter has gone off.
Actually I do mind this last one quite a lot, but the landlady is far too scary to complain to. The three families had all gone by 8, it is now 10:15. Nobody has been in since and nobody else will come in because there is nowhere for anybody to come in from. If somebody does come in it will be to chop me in to small pieces with an axe. I say me because not only have all the other customers gone but so has the landlady. She goes into her lounge to watch telly and if you want anything you ring a bell. I could just serve myself but I'm too busy curling up in a ball in the corner gibbering.

None of the above bode well for dinner earlier (or is that bade well?). I was struggling with the pre-conceptions when it came to food. Would it be ok to eat? I played safe and ordered a chilli, it would only need to be heated thoroughly to avoid killing me. I was well and truly put in my place. The chilli was a corker, homemade with loads of different types of beans and sultanas for a bit of sweetness. Spicy too. Very original and possibly the best chilli EVER!!! Meal rating 9/10. One point docked for including a side salad. Why bother?

So it is now 10:30 and the landlady has locked up and gone to bed. I am still downstairs and have been asked to turn the lights off. Nobody else is staying here tonight. I have no idea why, this pub is really quite good!

-- Posted from my iPhone

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