Saturday, 18 August 2018

LEJOG Day 21 - Glasbury to Hay on Wye

The Black Mountains from the Wye Valley Walk

After breakfasting with a group of four French people at the guesthouse who were travelling around Wales, hiking and visiting historic sites, I set off from Glasbury following the Wye Valley Walk to Hay on Wye. This proved to be a pleasant riverside walk in beautiful scenery with the brooding, Black Mountains I had crossed the day before, forming a moody backdrop in the slightly gloomy morning. I was undecided as to what my plan was for the day. Hay on Wye was only around five or six miles but the next obvious stop along the way was Kington, a further 15 miles, making a walk of around 21 miles. I decided to wait until I reached Hay on Wye to decide what to do. I reached a point where the Wye Valley Walk offered high and low level options and decided on the low level option along the river, which I was enjoying walking along.

As I followed the level grassy path, I saw a young woman ahead crouching down staring intently into the undergrowth at the side of the path and wondered what she could be doing. I tried to make as much noise as I walked so that she would hear me approaching and didn´t become startled but she seemed totally oblivious to my presence. Soon, I was so close that I simply said ´Hello´, at which the spell seemed to be broken and she jumped up embarrassed. She explained that she had seen a large grasshopper in the undergrowth, which she had been watching as I approached. She pointed it out to me and it was indeed quite large. I tried to put her at her ease by talking about it but I could tell she was embarrassed and wanted to get away as fast as possible. 

The River Wye near Hay on Wye

I continued my stroll along the Wye Valley Walk and was soon in Hay on Wye where I found a bench and took off my rucksack and studied the map. There were campsites in both Hay on Wye and Kington but I suddenly decided I was going to have a short day and headed for the campsite, which  was just a short walk away. Soon, I was booked in and once my was tent pitched, I headed into town and had a good look round the many bookshops. I spent the afternoon sleeping and later, during a phone conversation, my wife expressed concern that the walk, because of all of the delays, was taking a long time. I had already been away from home for five weeks and would still need at least another six weeks to reach John O´Groats. I said I would think about it overnight. It was true that the walk had been dogged with bad luck from the beginning. It had been nearly five weeks since I started walking but I had only managed to walk twenty one of those days and was still only in South Wales, I should have been a couple of hundred miles further north. I fell asleep in the tent that night pondering my next move. The next morning dawned grey and showery and as I drank a coffee in the rest room on the campsite I had a ´Bill Bryson´moment. In his popular book,´A Walk in the Woods´, an account of his hike along the Appalachian Trail with a friend, they arrive at an information point in the woods having walked for hundreds of miles. Spotting a map of the route, they are dismayed to see their position marked on it showing that they had covered only a fraction of the walk. Looking at the back of the door to the rest room, I saw a full length map of the UK and picked out Hay on Wye and suddenly knew how Bryson and his friend felt. It looked as through I had barely started although I had walked nearly four hundred miles! I turned the phone conversation with my wife over in my mind and realised that I had gone as far as I was going to go on this trip. The stars had just not been with me this time and I knew I could return the following spring to continue my walk. I retrieved my phone and with a few clicks, booked a seat on the same flight home with my wife. 8.8k/5.5 miles Cumulative 634.4k/396.5miles

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