Glyndŵr’s Way

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 2 – Llangunllo to Felindre

The adventure of day two started with the journey to the start point. Eirys had kindly offered to help us by driving us to Llangunllo once we had parked our car at Felindre. I looked at the sat nav system and it suggested a straight road due south from Kerry which would be 3 minutes faster and a couple of miles shorter than the more conventional route from Newtown via Dolfer.

With my sales experience I should have picked up the objection signals from Eirys, who looked dubious but was happy to let me go for it. Initially the road was splendid and I recognised it as one we had taken before on the way to Clun – lovely shady tree lined valley alongside a river and then opening out on top of the ridge to magnificent moorland and far ranging views. That was all good until we turned off onto the small side road that took us “straight” to Felindre. It got more and more agricultural and rural and the potholes got bigger and more regular until the road itself was swallowed up in a mass of muddy small ponds. I could just imagine what I was being called in the car behind! I couldn’t get a signal to apologise by phone so I pulled over to see how the other two were doing. It appeared that Eirys was up for the adventure and was being given the material for a great story to be told at the bowling club later…

We parked outside the Wharf Inn, hoping to see someone to ask permission, but as it wasn’t clear whether we were in their car park and there was no one about we headed for Llangunllo, taking the road through Knighton rather than the B roads – I didn’t have the nerve!

We set off at about 10.20 on a lovely sunny day – a good call to bring the walking forward a day to the Saturday rather than what was looking like a likely-to-be-rainy Sunday. Clear skies and 8 degrees – perfect for walking and we set off down the road with the railway bridge our first landmark after a mile or so of easy going tarmac.

After the inevitable hill we were in a field where for the first time the signage wasn’t great. So we walked around it in a complete circle before seeing that we should have hugged the right hand edge rather than following the direction that we were pointed in across the middle of an elevated field. The sheep got gradually crosser and crosser as they must have started to suspect us of being on a lamb raid with our erratic circling.

Day 2 of Glyndwyr's Way - on the moors
Day 2 of Glyndwyr’s Way – on the moors

IMG_4670 IMG_4673

Having found the green lane on top of the ridge, we caught up with a large group of walkers who were a jolly bunch enjoying the trail. The twelve or so were in fine fettle and we had a good chat for 5 minutes or so about this and that, and having said our farewells we set off with the thought that if my knee didn’t sort itself out, a lotion made from cows’ udders was the recommended cure. The group were hoping to find a good pub at the end of the Felindre leg and we suggested that the Radnorshire Arms in Beguildy was the one to try, little knowing that it would be shut for lunch. Shame – had it been open, we would have enjoyed their further company!

We gradually caught up with another couple doing a circular 11 mile walk who said they felt we were speeding! We chatted a bit before being interpupted by a lamb with 15 painted on its back who rushed up to the fence next to us and bleated loudly.  It kept alongside with both of us couples bleating ever more loudly in hunger and some sort of neediness we couldn’t put right. Sharing our bananas with it didn’t seem quite right.

We loved the next stretch despite not seeing the rare Pillwort, although I accused Heather of trampling it on occasion through some of the muddier sections. Loads of birdlife and the heather must look absolutely amazing in summer when it flowers, given how much of it there was. Black Mountain wasn’t all that black or mountainous, but we stopped on it for our banana (each), before heading down into Felindre after a very lovely 3 1/2 hours doing the 9 1/4 miles.

We passed a couple who had bravely come up what was for us the final descent – very steep and the two dogs they had in tow were pleased to see us. Again we decided that the Radnorshire Arms was the place we might see them again in a moment as they said that the Wharf Inn had just looked very closed – as it proved to be.

So we jumped in the car and sped off to Beguildy only to find that pub closed too, so the last resort was the pub in Dolfor on the way home – happily that was open, recently refurbished, served fine Brains bitter and basket meals for a fiver with the best chips we had enjoyed for some time – if not ever! Worth a visit – walking or not….

Note: we tried to get into the Radnorshire Arms on the next day – Sunday for lunch, but it was fully booked. Delighted that it is doing so well, we will try and get to it another day  – maybe next weekend? As a result, we ended up doing some caching on Sunday, with a First to Find to extend the monthly count and went on to the 3 Tuns in Bishops Castle, where I fell in love with the 1642 – so all was well that ended well.

You might think this is developing into a blog about beer rather than walking, and you might be right!

General Glyndŵr’s Way

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 1 – Knighton to Llangunllo

“Hello, would you be able to take us back from Llangunllo to Knighton please?” I asked, once I had managed to secure a phone signal from the top of the hill at the start of Glyndwyr’s Way.

“Where’s that?, the nice lady at the taxi firm enquired in return. “Llangunllo, please.” I replied.

“Ah, you mean Llangunllo!” and she sounded pleased. “Yes, Llangunllo”, I said.

“No, that’s Llangunllo.” And so the fun started.

The background and the map of Glynwyr's Way
The background and the map of Glynwyr’s Way

Heather’s mum Eirys had kindly offered to accommodate us over a few weekends using her house as base camp, and we were therefore heading for Newtown, although for the first day of the trail we had driven up from home and thought we’d get walking before we went to check in with Eirys, not just due to the distance but also to take advantage of the wonderful weather.

Before we set off we made our way through the town on foot to the Offa’s Dyke Centre – having manoeuvred through the farm animal market and parked the other end of the town in the Bowling Green carpark for 90p. (Tip: we later learned one can park in the Offa’s Dyke Centre carpark for the day for free).

We wondered what sort of reception we would get once we told them that we were dong a rival trail to the more established and well known Offa’s Dyke Way but the lady at reception could not have been more charming or helpful. What an inspired decision to have a centre like this staffed by a wonderful knowledgable person to help the walker feel welcome and get such a positive first impression.

Now much better equipped with a recently written guide to the walk by Mike Salter, OS map no 201, and detailed instructions about where to find the start, we set off with enthusiasm at around 11.30, happy to get the 200 mile drive out of our legs.

Spring had finally sprung after the long winter of discount tents, and the sun shone through 10 degrees of crisp air on the Victorian clock tower that was the official start – a large edifice in the centre of the town that looked like it should be in bigger surroundings somehow.

The Official Start of the Walk
The Official Start of the Walk

Within a few yards up the steep hill through the town aptly known as the Narrows, a granite marker provides a more personalised starting point and a few more yards later there is an informative notice board about the walk.

A more personalised starting point
A more personalised starting point

Leaving the town, the path soon dives into some pleasant woodland, before then opening the lungs with a decent uphill gradient to seriously shake off any cobwebs. Stopping regularly to regain breath in between gasping how unfit I was, we took in the views and gulped at water bottles while being silently pleased that after the knee operation I was able to get back to enjoying one of my favourite activities and that it wouldn’t be long before I was in walking shape again…

We walked quickly, conscious that we couldn’t miss our arranged meeting time at the unpronounceable destination, stopping only occasionally and once for a few minutes to enjoy the banana lunch we had prepared.

We didn’t see any other walkers. We did see one lone figure in the distance skilfully weaving what looked like birch trees into a chest high fence, but he was too far away to even shout a greeting.

And so we arrived in Llangunllo 3/4 of an hour ahead of our taxi after a pleasant 2 1/4 hours walking including the enjoyment of the final downhill stretch during which we knew that our tired legs could coast the rest of the way.

Time to explore the local church then, while Heather took up taxi waiting duty outside the closed pub. It is a very small village indeed, with the local bus stop having no sign of buses, past or present, but proclaiming proudly how it had been used as the substitute for the pub during its closed period, with the locals meeting in it to have a beer and a chat. I thought this both touching and sad as I imagined three or four locals fighting for space to raise their elbows in a small structure barely large enough to accommodate them, while just over the other side of the road the large pub lay empty and disused.

The good news is that the pub is once again in use in the evenings and no doubt although we didn’t get the chance to sample its hospitality, it is again operating at the heart of this small rural community and providing a social service by giving neighbours a place to meet and chew the fat. At least we liked to think so. The reality is that it must be hard to keep such a place going in such a remote and isolated surroundings without the passing trade to boost the coffers with Sunday lunches and the like.

We thought of using the phone box to alert the taxi company to our early arrival as our mobile phones had long ago given up the struggle to get a signal in these parts. But we discovered that the system of putting coins into a public phone has been replaced by another system explained in Welsh on a sign in words which Heather’s school tuition hadn’t covered or at least had been forgotten.

So I traipsed up to the churchyard while Heather chatted to the local “Daddy” character from the excellent Stella series, who adopted an entirely different dialect to ask Heather about our journey than the one he had earlier been using to exchange incomprehensible remarks with the local concrete laying pub path restorer.

Left unsure whether the church was late 13th Century or late 19th Century (probably the latter on a former foundation) the taxi was soon speeding us back to our car in Knighton with a very chatty local lady at the wheel providing both some colour and some reviews of the town’s several pubs based her darts playing experience.

We decided to walk back into town to take up one of her recommendations – (the nearest) and sank into a pew in the Jockey and something, where I enjoyed a welcome pint of 3 Tuns Ale imported from the nearby Bishops Castle microbrewery. Now that is a really good pub if you are ever in that area…

So we enjoyed our stop in Knighton and our short but successful first day on the trail had a very happy ending. We were soon winding our way to Newtown where we received our customary warm welcome and later went to another fine meal at the Wagon & Horses, which with a combination of a good walk and good food and drink, meant a very fine nights sleep ahead of day 2.

General Ramblings

Physiotherapists – how do they do that?

I’ve been being treated by Jo at the North Downs Hospital, Caterham, and had another session of treatment today. The knee is improving all the time and Jo is confident of a full recovery.

What amazed me was her ability to feel where I was in pain, just through touch. I don’t mean that she would prod me and I would leap off the table, but she could sense almost before I could where the pain was likely to be. Extraordinary!

I’ve been given some more different exercises to do and a gentle suggestion that maybe it is time to get back in the gym a bit more. Based on my expanding waist line, no argument from me there…

I’ll get back on the Wii Fit Board straight away and work out what to do about the gym.

Looking forward now to doing some stages of the Glyndwyr Way in a week’s time  – Jo has said that really there is no problem with what I need to do, just to “listen” to my knee. 3-4 miles recently doing maintenance on the WCW caching circuit in Woldingham went well, and having Ruby and Yogi to stay meant we were out walking them quite a bit.

My only advice to those who have had an arthroscopy is to avoid standing still for any length of time – I was doing some cooking last week and it caused so much pain I had to sit down and put ice on my knee for the first time since the op. Apparently Jo said that no blood circulates through the joint and you are putting a lot of load on the joint at the same time when standing still for any length of time, and so walking is much better than standing still.

My Fitbit reports that I did 23.5 miles last week – if I can get that up to 35 or more and keep it there, maybe my weight will start going down a bit. I certainly don’t want to drag the extra pounds along the Glydwyr…

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 12.17.40