The day started with a dismal look to it - rain was sprinkling down and the outlook was pretty bleak as far as the weather was concerned. We went down for breakfast at 8 am. Our host seemed a bit put off by our vegan diets - I believe it is the only place on the trip in which we will encounter this but didn’t have much of a choice since it was a last minute booking when our other lodging fell through. He kept making comments about how humans are naturally omnivores and that our breakfast needs were problematic. We did get what we needed though (cereal with soy milk, toast and jam, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and beans) so we left it alone.
When a person seems uninterested in hearing an alternative view it is sometimes best to not get into a discussion as it serves no beneficial purpose.
Olivia decided to skip the hike today, so we arranged for a cab to pick her up at 10:30 and bring her to our next lodging. Though it is only 16 miles on the trail, it takes an hour to drive the more circuitous route, so she was able to sleep and read until we arrived.
We were hoping to leave by 10 and it looked like we were going to be able to do that until I saw that my Garmin was not connecting again. Once again I tried to charge the watch last night so there is a good chance the hiccup happens with the phone charging. I tried for 20-30 minutes to connect, in the process frustrating everyone, and finally gave up for the time being. So we took our morning departure photo and were on our way.
By the time we left, the rain had let up. We knew it wouldn’t last but were grateful to start with no rain. The owner gave us directions to cut through woods and fields to regain the trail rather than retracing our steps and continuing from where we had been. This sounded too good to be true. . . and it was! He did tell us that some parts would be overgrown, but we didn’t expect how bad it would be. Let’s just say that a machete would have been helpful.
And certain points we felt thoroughly lost, and I didn’t even have the Garmin to point us in the right direction.
After hacking through some bushes with my hiking poles,
we finally did find our way through.
Things seemed to be turning around when we found the sign that we were back on the path. And even better, my Garmin decided it was time to wake up and finally connected. (* I made some conservative estimates about the data from this portion of our hike - 20 minutes, 0.3 miles, 200 ft. elevation gain and added those to the total tally. Pretty sure that these numbers are lower than what we actually did, especially the time it took to conquer this untamed terrain.)
Then we started our ascent up a steep lane, climbing what is known as Hattervel Hill. I believe we were actually hiking parallel to the actual path, at least that is what my Garmin told me. I knew that we would intersect with the actual path soon enough so we weren’t too concerned. And within 1/2 mile the road ended and we continued our climb up to Hatterrall Ridge, where we seemed to find more acorn symbols - back on track!
Hatterrall Ridge is about 10 miles long and is the eastern edge of the Black Mountains. As it twists northwards, hikers can see Wales on the left and England on the right. We spent most of the day on the ridge, a part of the path that is known to be one of the most scenic. For the most part we lucked out with the weather. We had intermittent showers while on the ridge, but only one 60 minute stretch with pelting rain. All in all, we had more pleasant weather than we had expected and while the fog occasionally crept in, it also lifted at times so we had some great views too!
We saw lots of mama sheep with their lambs roaming free along the ridge.
We also saw plenty of horses and their foals. So cute!
The views were spectacular so we took LOTS of pictures!
Once we hit the ridge we were slightly climbing for most of it. The trail was mainly grass, though there were also some areas made of stone slabs. Can’t imagine being one of the workers carrying and laying these stones!
Occasionally the way was marked with stone markers - though it would have been hard to go off course, it was reassuring to see these.
And when markers weren’t guiding us, there were plenty of cairns to let us know we were still heading the right direction.
We were occasionally led by some of the locals!
Lara and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, which we found breathtaking, but Jonah felt differently. He found it monotonous - while beautiful, it was all pretty much the same to him. To keep him chugging along and not worrying about the length of the day’s hike I started telling him the story of Henry IV and Henry VI. He had just seen Henry V so these seemed to spark his interest.
And then we hit the hightest point of the ODP at 2,306 feet, just before Hay Bluff near the end of the ridge. Shortly after that, we started our descent toward Hay-on-Wye and Jonah started to get a bit more pep to his step.
As we descended, Jonah and I decided that it was time for some music so we broke out the flute and ukulele. I had been waiting for days for some decent weather so that we would have a chance to play.
And then we spotted the town of Hay-on-Wye below and that got us all excited.
We actually started jogging/running through fields as we headed down in to the town. Jonah did so with flute in mouth playing his tunes!
We had one big scare near the very end of our day’s hike - one which brought us to a complete stop. As we were walking through a final pasture, we saw a cow in our path and right behind her we soon saw an enormous bull! We certainly weren’t going to get any closer. Eventually we were able to coax them away from the trail so we could slowly and steadily pass.
We finally made it to our lodgings at Kilverts Inn at 4:30 and Olivia was waiting for us.
After showering and relaxing we came down to get some dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurants in the area don’t seem to open until 6pm so we had to wait a bit. We walked a few blocks to Three Tuns Italian Restaurant because we had read that it had some good vegan options.
And the reviews were absolutely correct so we loaded up on food. Olivia wasn’t hungry so she just had a side of broccoli, but the three of us split 2 pizzas with vegan cheese, 2 orders of fries, 1 Vegan Puttanesca plate, 1 portobello mushroom and polenta plate, an order of asparagus on a bed of salad greens and 2 sorbet desserts! We clearly made up for the minimal breakfast and no lunch!
After dinner we headed back to the Inn to relax,read, and go to sleep. I switched things up tonight, staying up until 11 to finish my blog before calling it a night.
Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Average Speed: 2.9 mph
Total Ascent: 2, 109 feet
Total Descent: 2,320 feet