Olivia’s troubles were exacerbated last night when she got some type of stomach bug/virus. She (and hence Lara) were up throughout the night. I had switched rooms with Olivia so she could get some mama TLC. So by the time Jonah and I went down for breakfast at 8, the girls were exhausted and in no shape to get up. Lara eventually joined us but decided to stay back with Olivia and skip the day’s hike and instead help transport Olivia to the next lodging via cab. It was a disappointment for all, mostly Olivia who has to deal with fatigue and stomach issues in a foreign country. Lara was looking forward to the day’s hike, I was eager to have the family together for a day, and Jonah really wanted to hike with his sister.
Part of #TSBT is learning how to deal with the unexpected, life’s curve balls. I know I am not very good at it. Hiking 15 miles over a mountain is MUCH easier for me to do than taking changes in stride. So my work today was letting go of the image I had of our family doing another C2C4C hike as a unit and be in the moment of the experience in front of me. I knew that Olivia was in good hands with Lara, so it was my job to make sure that Jonah and I got the most out of the day. And we did. After a traditional English breakfast and packing up, Jonah and I headed out at 9:45.
Again I had watch issues - I’m beginning to think this has more to do with the fact that I’m starting the day a little off course than with charging since I didn’t charge the watch last night. It still shouldn’t freeze the watch though. After about 10 minutes it did begin to work, and as soon as it did we got started.
I’ll cut to the chase - today was AWESOME!! The weather was certainly part of that assessment. We had been planning for rain from 9 - 2 pm, but it didn’t rain at all until hours after we finished our hike and we actually got some sunshine today! On top of that, the views were stunning.
As we passed out of Hay-on-Wye, we crossed over the river (Wye) and spent the next few miles without changing elevation.
We did come across quite a few mud fields.
And we had plenty of opportunities to connect with the local cows, including this one who was enjoying some salt.
We started our ascent through some forest trails.
We also walked on a handful of paved country roads. . .
and some not so paved lanes!
The sunny weather made the many sheep pastures we passed seem that much more idyllic.
There was no need to worry much about getting lost today as the path was generally easy to follow.
We passed the time with my telling Jonah the story of how his mother and I met. He had heard bits and pieces over the years but wanted the full story. We had plenty of time so I shared all of the details of the first year of our lives together (up until we biked coast to coast across the USA). We descended to the town of New Church, Jonah was thrilled to find a basketball hoop. Either Jonah has grown a lot since we began or the hoop wasn’t at the official height!
As we went through town, we passed St. Mary’s church, which occupies an ancient sacred site, probably of pre-Christian origin. Today, it is mainly of interest to hikers for the free tea, coffee, and biscuits it offers walkers. Jonah and I were happy with our pace and didn’t want to jinx the weather by stopping so we pushed on.
Lots of cute sheep again today, including the smallest one we have seen so far - adorable! We saw these two as we made our way out of New Castle and up Disgwylfa Hill.
As we traversed the hill, one of the day’s highlights, we saw plenty of sheep, including these two that I couldn’t resist taking a picture of! They just seem like a funny pairing.
We also saw our first one that had apparently recently died surrounded by a flock all sitting in a circle around her - out of respect I didn’t take a photo. I might be anthropomorphizing, but it didn’t seem like they were in mourning for a lost comrade or family member. Typically the sheep get up and run off as we get near, but this crew stayed put.
As we crested the first section we saw this man being pulled by a horse - not sure whether he was just out for a joy ride or tending the flock. Maybe he was doing the Offa’s Dyke in a less arduous fashion (at least for him, not the horse!)
With the sun shining down on us (or at least as close to it doing so since we began our journey), we were able to take in the beautiful views on all sides.
It was still a climb, but a fairly easy one compared to others we had this day.
The views were just as lovely on our descent from Disgwylfa.
When we reached flatter terrain we passed through some more pastures. While most of the trail before today had pastures that we crossed through gates, today had quite a few with more old fashioned stiles like this one.
Even the flats had phenomenal views of open land. Though I don’t think I would enjoy living so separated from my neighbors as this, I do thoroughly enjoy knowing that we still have areas with so much unspoiled land.
Once we made it to the town of Gladestry, we knew we were only 4-5 miles from our final destination for the day.
It was time to make our way up a bracken-covered region to the summit slopes of Hergest Ridge. The terrain seemed like it was made for tired legs, which we had, as it was a springy green turf (natural, of course!)
Sometimes the path wasn’t clearly marked as was the case here, where the path had three options, none of which was definitively the ODP. We picked the leftmost track and that worked for us!
Most of the time we did have clear signs though, as we did here. I was so excited to know we were on the right path that I had to climb the post!
Beautiful views abound!
Here Jonah made a W to signify the side looking out on Wales . . .
and an E to signify the side looking out on England.
We came across a curious site as we neared the end of the ridge, a clump of monkey puzzle trees seemingly all by itself.
There was a bench in front of it, so we asked passing walkers to take our photo.
We decided that it was time to break out the instruments, so we played some duets on the descent off the ridge.
A nd we made it to the town of Kington, the self-anointed Centre for Walking!
And we made it to the town of Kington, the self-anointed Centre for Walking!
A quaint town of 3,000, it has maintained its charm over the years.
Jqonah needed to make a call so just asked me to wait a moment.
At 2:30 pm we made it to our destination for the day, The Walking Hub.
Olivia and Lara had arrived at about 11 am and our host for the night, Ali, had made them feel right at home. Ali’s puppy Roo was just the medicine Olivia needed.
And he clearly loved Lara too, so decided to hump her arm as she did some yoga in the kitchen!
Since Lara had not moved too much for the day, she and I took a walk through town.
We came to this shop and couldn’t resist a photo.
After picking up Jonah, the three of us headed over to the Oxford Arms for dinner.
The owner, Fred, was very friendly and the food was adequate. There weren’t many options for us but it served its purpose. On the way back we picked up some white rice and bananas for Olivia.
And then we settled in for the night. Lara and the kids relaxed in bed while I started my blog and talked to our host, Ali. Just before 10 pm, our friends Kate and Alex arrived with their dog Ed, all of whom will be hiking with us tomorrow. Ed and Roo got along splendidly! After a brief reunion, we went off to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
Distance: 15.31 miles
Time: 4 hours 37 minutes
Average Speed: 3.3 mph
Total Ascent: 2,388 feet
Total Descent: 2,181 feet