9m miles, 698 calories used, 9.00 to 2.00
Another morning of pouring rain, too wet to see, too wet to stop, we just slogged on through the rain, water bouncing off the roads, swelling the paths with puddles, too wet to stop for our ten minute rests. The whole world was streaming with water and that included me, right down to my underwear.
We found a tumbledown shelter for our lunch, a brick shed with an old tin roof with a hole in it. We sat on some logs just out of reach of the splash of the rain through the gash in the roof and ate our sandwiches and changed our socks again. There was nothing to do but walk and to walk at speed so we arrived at Heath Cottage near Forden way too early to a warm and easy welcome. There was a boiler room to hang our sodden clothing in and newspaper with which to stuff our boots. There was a warm lemon cake and tea and, after a shower, a fire in the living room and newspapers to read and a chat. Bliss.
Monday 8th June
Forden to Llanymynech
14 miles, 1144 calories used, 9.30 to 5.00
This looked like a hard day on paper but proved easy enough, the climb and descent restricted to the first hour or so and then much of the walking on flat land by the Severn or along the Montgomery canal. Before we left we were shown the chickens and chicks and the ducks with their ducklings, tiny balls of perfect fluff which look just like a children's toy. We also had the most marvellous breakfast with fruit and homemade preserves along with the now familiar but fabulous cooked breakfast. Can we eat that much and move? Yes we can.
We tried to stop for lunch on the path by a scenic smallholding with beautiful Light Sussex cockerel and hens scratching and pottering and gently grazing sheep. Unfortunately the sheep might well have been hand reared as they showed none of the usual reserve faced by humans but came charging over, intent on sharing our cheese and ham sandwiches as soon as we sat down and would not be shooed. Red faced, hungry and cross, we decamped.
I have heard this described as the boring bit of the walk but we didn't find it so. It was quite flat after the long slow climb out of Forden but the stretch by the canal was quite new, full of water birds and water lilies and a deep green calm.
At one point we skirted a farmyard where a collie was guarding eleven pups, all bouncing with wriggle and curiosity.
They came rushing across to inspect us as we walked through.
The Golden Lion in Four Crosses was clean and pleasant with exceptionally good pub food. It felt good to be more than halfway now, with the rhythm established, the rain gone and another rest day ahead. The landlord here was clearly more interested in music than in the pub and there were live music evenings every night. We listened happily to someone sawing a violin while eating yet more chips and chatting to a fellow walker from The Netherlands.
Tuesday 9 June
Four Crosses and Trelystan
no miles walked, much tea drunk and fine lunch consumed, washing done: tons
We had been looking forward to our only day off in the second week since the very beginning of the walk. We were to spend the day with mountainear and the idea of a house, not a B & B, and a day where we might be looked after had kept us going through the rain and the mud.
She picked us up from the pub where we were staying and gave us a day of luxury and total freedom, freedom from walking and from any kind of decision making. We were ferried about by car - leather seats, speed, purring engine - what a fantastic invention. We ate quiche and strawberries, drank tea and listened to the hum of the tumble drier delivering warm, dry clothes and a measure of respectability. We wandered her beautiful garden, inspected her chickens, were driven to Montgomery and admired its castle and perfect town centre and finished the day with a meal with her and snailbeachshepherdess and their husbands. It was lovely to engage with the world again, to catch up and to share stories and to be sent on our way replete and clean.