If I had to give a title to the day it would be “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” From the outside, one would think that our stay at the estate of Mellington Hall would have been our best and most luxurious, but that was not actually the case. The rooms are basic and aren’t nearly the most comfortable we’ve had on this trip, the food was subpar with very few vegan options (including no soy milk for breakfast cereal), and the service painstakingly slow despite there being very few people staying there last night. That’s just an observation, not a complaint (Jonah strongly dislikes when I complain about lodgings or food service!)
We had a serviceable breakfast at 8 and were out the door by 9:15 AM. Unfortunately it took my Garmin 15 minutes to connect so we didn’t actually leave until 9:30 AM. We tried to get an early start because the forecast called for rain to start at 1 PM and we wanted to get as much road behind us before the rain came as possible.
We knew the day’s hike would be much flatter than yesterday’s. And it was, at least for the first half of the day’s trek. Lots of fields and pastures...
some trails through wooded areas...
and some walking atop the clearly defined dyke.
In one of the fields we saw these beautiful flowers - only time we’ve seen them on the trek - so had to take a picture. If any of you know what type of flower these are please let us know!
We were fortunate that there wasn’t rain as we passed through many of the fields with high grass or our legs would have been soaked!
As it was, they were just slightly damp as you can see from the lower part of my pants.
The scenery wasn’t quite as interesting today as it has been, but we were fine trading scenery for a day of reduced climbing. We passed the time listening to Lara recount the first season of Game of Thrones. She’s a great storyteller. Now Jonah and I want to watch the series -he has never seen it and I have only seen Season 1 many years ago. Even though the hike wasn’t as scenic, we still saw our fair share of pastures of sheep.
And some of them also strolled on top of the dyke!
Another time today when looks were deceiving relates to the bog/mud/swamps we encountered. As this was a clear day with no morning showers, one would think that the trail conditions would have been slightly better. Not the case - today was definitely the worst trail conditions - we had to go through quite a few pools of water and lots of mud pits.
And then we came across this sign and had to take a picture of it!
While we have been amazed by the kindness of many of the people we have met on our adventure, we are even more amazed by how ignorant, selfish, stubborn, and divisive so many have become. We should be more like dogs and love unconditionally.
It took about 2 hours of hiking before we saw our first climb. When we got to it though, our legs and backs were not so happy. Yet another time in which the looks were deceiving. From the elevation chart one would surmise that it would be an easy day. However, our bodies are tired and backs/legs sore. So even though we had only 1/3 of the elevation as yesterday,our bodies were feeling each step more.
We did have some road hiking today, but didn’t mind it since it was easier than hiking on muddy trails.
When we headed off the road, we came across the small flock of sheep, one of which was black. It made me realize that we have only seen a couple of black sheep on our journey - not sure the reason for it. But come on sheep, let’s get a little more diversity! It’s 2019!
A little after noon and after having hiked 8 miles, we decided that we needed a little snack break. We could see that we were about to do another steep climb and our bodies needed a rest before doing so. We only took a 10 minute break, but it was enough to give us the necessary energy to put our packs back on and venture forth.
When we got to the top of the hill, we entered a wooded area - beautiful!
Lara hasn’t taken many handstand photos, but these woods were calling her so she obliged us with a couple of poses.
And then it was 1 PM and like clockwork, it started to rain. Though it was supposed to rain for the remainder of the day, we were fortunate that it only rained for about 15 minutes. And then we were hiking through fields up another hill.
We were hiking up for quite a while, so when we reached the top, we took a pit stop at Beacon Ring.
Beacon Ring is the site of a late Bronze Age and early Iron Age large circular hill fort, but it is now planted with beech trees. In older times beacon fires would have been lit here, hence the name.
When we came out the other side of the ring, we were met with some really muddy trails!
After passing out from these trails we were in fields with great panoramic views.
Lara wasn’t too pleased that there was no clear markings in the fields so we just had to find our way through high grass.
Heading down of the mountain we came across this stile/bench and took a photo because the engraving was just too perfect.
Here’s a close up of the engraving on the stile:
The latter part of the day was filled with lots of laughter! Lara started to tell the story of a movie she saw on the plane, Arctic, about a Norwegian scientist. And we learned that Jonah doesn’t yet know where Norwegians live! He guessed “Norwegia”! That started a fun game and silly game we played with him of “Where do they live?” Then she started back on the story but we kept making jokes and silly asides so it took the rest of the hike to get through the first part of the story.
Back to the hike - we finally came out of the fields and to the edge of Buttington, a fairly large town for the area.
Fortunately we were able to circumvent much of the town and were on a path in which Lara befriended a donkey.
And, of course, I befriended some cows.
We knew we were getting close when we left Buttington and found ourselves hiking on the flats next to the River Severn.
We even encountered some swans!
And then we were onto the Montgomery Canal for one final stretch.
We finally arrived at the Powis Arms, our destination for the night, a little before 3:30 PM.
From the look of the place, one would surmise it was a bit run down and wouldn’t be very hospitable - but once again, looks can be deceiving! I had even read some reviews yesterday (so that I knew what to expect as far as food options) complaints about it being run down, basic, loud, and inhospitable. Those reviews couldn’t be further from our experience and were most likely just based on outward looks. Andy, the manager, has been misjudged from his looks - one of the reviews characterized him as a gruff bouncer type. That also couldn’t be further from our experience. He came out and warmly welcomed us and is the first one on the trip to offer newspaper for us to put in our hiking boots - that helps dry them. And he also kindly offered to do our laundry! He also made a great effort to satisfy our vegan diets. He said he had to do some research to figure out what vegan was and where to get food but found some options at a few area markets. There are no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods around in remote areas like these, so providing a variety of choices can be a bit more challenging. And we are only the 2nd vegan group who have come here in the 5 years he has owned the Powis Arms. We were extremely grateful for the effort he put in to making us feel at home. Since we knew he had bought food just for us, we wanted to fill up so he wouldn’t be left with a lot. Before going to our room to freshen up we put in an order for vegan chickenless nuggets, vegan fish cakes, and vegan fish strips.
We went up to our family room (double bed and bunk beds) and took showers. We felt much better after that! The building is over 500 years old, so it has history and charm built in. Like many of the old houses we have been in on the trip, the door heights are very low!
After showers, we came down for our snacks, which suited us perfectly. Then we put in a dinner order that would be ready by 6: vegan pot pie, vegan curry, veggie burgers, chips and fritters. After relaxing for a bit we came down for round two! By this time several locals had come in to the pub for drinks. We enjoyed spending some time in a local place where people come to enjoy a pint and some laughs after a day’s work.
Andy asked me to place some music after dinner, so I brought down my ukulele and spent an hour or so playing some tunes. It was a nice way for us to end the day.
Then Lara folded the laundry and read her kindle while I wrote my daily blog. I tried to upload photos, but the internet speed was very slow so we called it a night instead.
Distance: 14.71 miles
Time: 5 hours 16 minutes
Average Speed: 2.8 mph;
Total Ascent: 1,512 feet
Total Descent: 1,817 feet