(No wifi at lodging so posted a day late)
We knew that our penultimate day would be our ultimate challenge so we were determined to get an early start.
We had a filling breakfast of granola, porridge, fruit and non-dairy yogurt, beans and toast, avocados, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and potatoes topped with vegan cheese!
Knowing it would be a long day with few opportunities to pick up food, we ordered packed lunches for the day. By 9 AM we were on our way, saying goodbye to our comfy lodging at the Grousemoor Inn and ready to attack this beast of a day with gusto.
Lodging only 3/10 of a mile from the route, we soon caught back up with the ODP just before entering the actual village of Llandegla.
And as we were leaving town, we saw this promising marker reminding us of how much we have accomplished so far and that we were a mere 29 miles from the finish line in Prestatyn!
Even though the glorious sun was shining bright, early on we occasionally could see remnants of the rain that had battered the region over the past couple of weeks.
The early part of the day’s trek was through gently inclined fields.
We also walked some paved trails surrounded by vast scenes of beauty.
About 90 minutes into our trip, we saw our first of many groups of young hikers of the day. As this was a beautiful Saturday in June, many school groups (most with only students, no teachers) were walking these incredible trails. While there was a part of us that wanted the peace and solitude of the past 12 days hiking, we certainly were happy to trade that in for the weather we were blessed with this day.
At this point, the real journey was about to begin along the undulating ridge of the Clewydian hills: the narrow range dividing industrial Deeside from rural Denbighshire. Our first real climb of the day was this one behind us, heading up to the western ridge of Moel y Plas.
We took our first of several breaks today when we reached the top. The views were spectacular, so we took the opportunity to take our bags off and then play a little ukulele/tin whistle duet!
And then we pushed on along the ridge, taking the occasional stop for a photo.
If I had entertained my urge to take a photograph every time I was amazed at the landscape, our hike today would have been significantly longer - we were surrounded by natural beauty all day.
And we happily trekked along the well-marked path.
As has been the case along the ODP, sometimes we had local guides leading the way.
This little guy kept sneezing; it sounded just like a human sneeze!
We often found ourselves walking on these narrow trails.
And when we came to more open fields, they were well-marked green lanes. It almost looked like they had been spray painted green, but they weren’t.
Jonah wasn’t too thrilled about having to climb this mountain.
We decided to take another water/snack break before we made our way up Foel Fenlli.
The climb wasn’t as bad as it looked - steep but brief. And once we got up, the path rounded its way around several mounts.
We then started to descend the other side.
After being out in unobstructed nature for the past few hours, we found the car park that we came to (destination of many school groups) with this cart a bit jarring.
In retrospect, we wish we would have replenished Lara and Jonah’s water bottles here as we ended up running out of water with 3-4 miles left of our day’s hike.
And then we entered Moel Famau County Park.
We started the next phase of our day’s journey, up to the summit of Moel Famau, the highest summit in the Clwydian Range. We could see the summit viewpoint from far away. It attracts about 200,000 visitors annually.
It was a long steady climb to the top, Jubilee Tower, but knowing that we would be taking a lunch break when we reached it gave us enough energy to keep on hiking! And when we got there, we saw this sign letting us know that we were a mere 20 miles from the end point of the ODP!
The tower has been restored in the past few years, but it isn’t much, especially compared to the original - a two-tiered Egyptian-style edifice constructed in 1810 to celebrate the golden jubilee of George III. It still provides a good stopping point for photos.
It also is a great spot to get a panoramic view of the surrounding region.
While Jonah and I climbed the remains of the tower for views and photos, Lara lounged below with views of the trail that we were about to take.
We had our packed lunches - sandwiches, chips, apples, and cookies - and then got ready to continue our journey.
The guide book lists the day’s climb at 2,870 feet so we thought that we were almost done climbing (we had already done over 2,500) and would be spending the rest of the day heading down to our destination. In what felt like the worst typo in the history of typos, the book likely accidentally put a 2 instead of a 3! While we had done over 1/2 of our climbing for the day, we still had a lot of climbing to do! Shortly before 2 PM we started the next leg of our journey.
Lara had promised to continue telling Jonah the story of the book she had just finished, The Woman in Cabin Nine. Since it is on my list of books to read, I spent the next couple of hours in front of them, happy to walk in silence and just take in the surrounding beauty.
This separation also gave me more opportunities to look back to them and see the views from another direction.
This region is known for its hillforts, including this one at Moel Arthur, which was occupied for several centuries starting in the Bronze Age!
After climbing up to another hillfort, I needed a break so I sat against this slate sign and waited for Lara and Jonah to join me.
By the time they did, Lara had finished telling her story and we were able to finish the day walking as a threesome again.
At this point we thought/ hoped we were definitely done with the climbing as it looked like we were heading down with spectacular views.
But we were wrong again, as we started yet another climb up toward the hillfort of Penycloddiau, which at one time was one of the largest in Wales. We just got to this rock formation and a slate sign.
And then we truly were heading down.
It was a good thing we were because we were out of water and were all exhausted.
After a mile or two of hiking with weary legs, Jonah somehow got a burst of energy. Having the end in sight definitely helped, and his energy had a ripple effect as it gave Lara and me the energy needed to complete our day.
We still had walking to do, and once we entered the town of Bodfari, we had to climb a paved lane with a major incline. But we did it! And we arrived at our B&B for the night, Llety R Eos Ucha at 5 PM!
A door had our name on it, and it was open, but no one was at home. There was a note on a table letting us know that there was no wifi and that the nearest (and only) eatery nearby was 0.8 miles walk away and that it gets packed, especially on a Saturday night, so it would be good to make reservations. Unfortunately there was no phone and no wifi. We unloaded our packs, took showers and tried to figure out what to do. By then, the owners had returned and explained that it would be best to just go to the restaurant as we would more likely be served that way. So we walked down the hill and across the field to what turned out to be the only happening place in town -it seemed that the whole small town must have been there! It was packed, by the time we arrived at Dinorben Arms at 6 PM.
Fortunately, it was a nice evening and no reservations were needed to eat at the outdoor seating on the rooftop. We ordered A LOT of food and then reviewed our day as we waited for it to arrive. This turned out to be the most miles we have ever hiked in one day on a C2C4C trek, the second most feet climbed, and the most descended. The only reason it wasn’t the most hours hiked was that we went at a significantly slower pace on our first trek across England when the kids were 10 and 12 years old. Today’s hike was really incredible and might have ranked as our favorite of the trip had it not drained us so much by its length. And the weather was wonderful, if a little hot. But after the 10 days of rain we experienced to start our journey, we are definitely not complaining!
The food arrived and was as good as the atmosphere. We ordered two veggie Thai curry dishes, hummus and bread, warm fresh bread with olive oil, 3 orders of fries - pretty much everything vegan on the menu.
Even though we had not been looking forward to the long walk uphill back to our lodging, by the time we finished, we knew we needed some walking to digest our food. We were amazed at how much energy Jonah had skipping home. We were also amazed at the sock tan line he got from just one day of pure sun!
As we continued our walk home, Jonah asked for a word from which he would do some rap lines. We kept giving him words and he kept coming up with raps. While we love anything he does, we don’t think he has much of a future as a rapper! ;-)
We were exhausted after our long day and, after watching a couple of episodes of “How I Met Your Mother”, went to sleep.
Distance: 19.07 miles (not including 2 miles walking to and from restaurant for dinner)
Time: 7 hours 02minutes
Average Speed: 2.7 mph;
Total Ascent: 3,913 feet
Total Descent: 4,373