Sunday, 1 August 2010

Day one. Knighton to Felindre. 15.75 miles.

(Note - As expected not much joy today posting the blog below. The only chance I got it spent ages thinking then failed, so I've taken the photos out and will post them separately. Maybe that will speed things up at my next opportunity.)

I've got to begin with the weather of course, as everything else pales into significance on a long distance walk (apart from beer and pain). I know enough about mid-Wales to realise that usually when you get a forecast the actual weather will be one 'level' worse. For example if the forecast is for sunny intervals it will be cloudy, cloudy will be showers, etc, etc. So I was delighted when sunny intervals were forecast and that was exactly what I got, albeit quite short intervals. Basically it was a lovely day, and if God was to offer me 11 more of those I'd take them. But he won't.

Last night's B&B, Whytcwm Cottage, was a hoot. The landlady was a larger than life character who I ended up drinking red wine with till one in the morning, along with her daughter who was staying with her. The more she drank the more she swore, mainly when referring to her daughter's ex-husband ("that f@@@@@g b@@@@@d and his f@@@@@g b@@@h girlfriend"). It was great fun and she must surely acquire cult status in Knighton. Rhubarb for breakfast too!

So I have two meals to report on. Last night I went to the horse and jockey in Knighton (I stayed there last year with Jen on Offa's Dyke) and had a chicken and bacon enchilada. Meal rating 7/10. One marked docked because the cheese sauce was a bit rich, the other two because it looked like it had been dropped onto the plate from a great height. Still a better start foodwise than last year. Tonight I ate at my new B&B because the pub doesn't do food on Sunday. Meal rating 7/10. Lasagne with salad, a bread roll and new potatoes. Two marks docked for excessive carbohydrates and another for asking me too many times how my meal was. Another great b&b though, Brandy House Farm. A much more professional affair this time, my room is intended for someone far more esteemed than me. No chance of a late night drinking frenzy here though. I'm now in the pub in Felindre, the Wharf Inn (about 30 miles from the sea!), drinking Monty's Mojo bitter. Good stuff. One of those pubs where everyone stares as you walk in. A bloke just came for a quick chat, but there were so many 'bloody's in his first sentence I didn't have a clue what he was saying. He hasn't hit me yet though which is a bonus.

Anyway, in between the drinking I've done some walking. This morning I seemed to completely forget that I wasn't on a Sunday stroll (in fact I spent the first half hour of the walk window shopping in Knighton), so by 2:30 I'd only walked 6 miles. A lovely 6 miles, mind, over rolling hills and through deciduous woodland. At this point I reached a tiny village called Llangunllo where I stopped to eat my packed lunch, popped in to the church to repent my sins and stood staring at the derelict pub which had it's windows broken and sheets for curtains, and was closed because the owner had died. Except it wasn't. A woman walked past and stopped for a chat, during which she told me that it had re-opened two weeks ago and that it was open now (I've posted a picture but I don't suppose it will do it justice, it's a real mess).I walked round the back and sure enough was greeted by a woman who looked like patti smith. She showed me inside into what was basically a building site with a bar in the corner and a jukebox. They were from Wolverhampton and were doing it up at weekends. Very slowly. They didn't have draught beer yet so I had a bottle of Fursty Ferret and put some music on. I'd been singing 'tunnel of love' by dire straits to myself all morning which was quite distressing, so I got it out of my system with some Sabbath and Jethro Tull (it wasn't the most up to date jukebox). The landlady said that you can tell a lot about someone from the music they listen to. So presumably she thought I was a devil-worshipping flautist.

The last 9 miles, when I finally got round to them, were as wild as I'd hoped this walk would be, across high level moorland with stunning views in every direction. Brecon Beacons to the south, Cadair Idris to the north, though as usual with long distance paths the route skirted any summits, so I had to detour up to the highest point. The start of this section was quite exciting because a group of lads were blatting around the hills on trial bikes (illegally, according to the sign which said 'No Motorbikes'. One lad even stopped and leaned his bike on the sign!), and being 'chased' by some sort of warden in a Landrover, which was bouncing around at about 5mph and getting nowhere. At one point I actually walked past it. I was going to suggest that he'd have more success getting out and running after them, but didn't. Anyway once they'd all disappeared over the horizon the last couple of hours were fantastic, the only things I could hear were the birds and my tinnitus. Oh and my squeaky rucksack. Not sure what to do about that, I can hardly oil it. The highlight of the day though was being handed a huge wedge of Victoria sponge as soon as I got to the b&b. Now that's good PR!

I've just had a chat with the man in the pub about darts and the Welsh language. He said something along the lines of "Bloody.......the bloody trouble with the bloody.........bloody Welsh language is bloody.........that it's bloody, bloody useless". He is drunk rather than aggressive and tomorrow he's doing some work in "bloody..........bloody Queensferry". So watch out Flintshire!

-- Posted from my iPhone

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