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Cym Chapel to Welshpool

Thursday, July 26, 2012

These blog entries detail the adventures, perils, and inclement weather that befell Deborah, our Director of Marketing here at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, and her husband Martin along Offa’s Dyke, a 182-mile long trek along the border of England and Wales. For the full introduction and to start at the beginning to read the stories in order, see the June 28th, 2010 blog entry.

Cym Chapel to Welshpool

Dear Gentle Readers:

The day started with delicious homemade bread for breakfast along with eggs, cereal, ham, jam, mushrooms and yogurt. Lynne sent us off with the best lunch of the trip: two ham sandwiches each on homemade bread with lettuce, apples, kitkat bars and orange juice.  She was so happy to see that we had the crossbow because she said while we should make it through the Mellington Hall estate safely, she had heard reports of black sheep attacks on small groups near Brompton Crossing.

Unfortunately, today started with a huge storm and hail again as we worked our way north. We were relaxed as we knew we were safe for the first five miles. We passed Brompton Crossing and happily espied David and Angela. We walked with them for an hour for safety and conversation. We found that we were all bound for Welshpool and agreed to meet for dinner at the Royal Oak. They travel without weapons, relying instead on their six Irish Wolfhounds. The dogs were very friendly to Americans. Finally, we had to part ways as foot cramps necessitated a stop for me. I laid down my cross bow to unlace my boot. Martin undid his backpack to get out the comfrey cream the South Africans gave us in Hay. Suddenly, without warning, a brace of badgers darted from the heretofore undetected badger hole and bore off with Martin's rain pants. Oh disaster! Oh horror! Oh poor Martin in the rainy, cold Welsh countryside without rain gear. We consoled ourselves with a delicious ham sandwich and thought what to do.

We continued hiking and renewed our vigilance to the dangers surrounding us. Martin decided that he could wear the garbage bag around his waist, cutting out the bottom and using the ties to hold it on, a rain kilt.

We walked and hopped stiles: 30 total today and one long, long climb up to an Iron Age hill fort. Fortunately, we made it to the top without incident. As we circled it, we heard an ominous baaing- the sound of black sheep massing for an attack. Martin shouted "run for cover!" We retreated to the hill fort. I loaded the crossbow; Martin readied ammo pile for slingshots. We were ready when the feral black sheep came into view, their yellow eyes gleaming as they charged. I fired bolt after bolt while Martin plied the slingshot to great effect. They faltered at our strong resistance. My final shot took the leader and they fled. We recovered the bolts but left the rocks as we made our way down the steep decline towards Buttington Bridge. We hastened to find our way as the sun was flirting with the distant hills as dark clouds gathered as we crossed the bridge, running since there was no pedestrian way on this late Victorian designed bridge. We took our life in our hands with no wildlife in sight as we crossed the roundabout to get to the Montgomery canal, finishing our 18-mile day as we limped into the Royal Oak. A hot bath restored us and we found David and Angela in the snug. We chatted and left for a delicious dinner in the restaurant. I had a lamb shank, Martin a rib eye, followed by apple and custard. Angela and David treated us to this fine dinner because, they said, they realized that we would part ways after this night since they were not lingering in Welshpool as we were.  We were sorry at our parting as we had learned much of the ways of the long distance walking lore from them. They are planning to walk the Camino next fall and we eagerly look forward to hearing their stories.

 We had a pleasant but uneventful day in Welshpool, visiting the foot reflexologist, replenishing our supply of ibuprofen and seeing the rather magnificent Powis Castle. We just missed seeing the Earl who toured it 30 minutes before us with some friends of his. The garden is astounding with topiary yews over 300 years old. We had the best dinner of the trip at Corn Shop. Martin has sea bass and I goat cheese tart with onions. The parsnips with peanuts, beets and potatoes lyonnaise, all fabulous, followed by a berry and hazelnut roulade. To the right we see Martin, in between being attacked by the wildlife, checking for the correct trail.

We left the crossbow at the Royal Oak for return to the Horse and Jockey. Tomorrow is a safe and flat walk to Four Crosses and our stay at Rhandregynwen Hall. Then onto Chirk Castle. We hope to find out more about the trail from our host Mark.

Deborah Hansen