I felt a second stretch of the Way was feasible this week while the weather was good and my legs were walking fit. We celebrated Eirys’s 87th with a lovely lunch at the Nags Head in Garthmyl and so feeling well fed and refreshed, Heather and I drove to Llanidloes the following day for me to pick up the trail again.
Heather dropped me off near the market hall and I popped into the Spar for lunch and chocolates. With around 1.5 litres of water onboard as it was a warmer day, my day pack felt a little heavier than normal. Maybe it was the Haribos and Mars bars…
Two other walkers were also preparing for a long day by stocking up at the shop and I wasn’t concentrating looking at my phone as I went round the corner over the bridge across the Severn when a mature lady on her mobility scooter screeched to a halt in front of me, giggling as she did so.
As promised by the guide book, every day of this trail starts with an uphill, this time through attractive woodland with bird nesting boxes aplenty on either side of the path. “Another lovely day in paradise!”, a pug walker opined.
I drank my twisted strawberry diet coke slightly out of breath and did a bit of videoing, noting the smart woodland toilet and picnic table area ahead.
I was alongside the golf club now – I only played there once with Heather’s Uncle Clive, but remember it, and him, fondly. A small dog ran back to check on me and safeguard it’s owners surprisingly for the first time both the gpx tracks I had downloaded proved to be inaccurate. I guess I or they had lost the gps signal in the same way that one of the golfers couldd be heard to bemoan his lost two golf balls as he searched in vain in the thick bushes the other side from my position on the path.
Thinking perhaps I should’ve worn shorts I set off across a newly cut field with lovely views downhill to Y Fan in the distance.
I had already learned this week to follow sheep trails diagonally across fields and I did so eventually coming across a number of sheep sheltering in the shade on the side of the path – not bothered to move when I walked right past them.
My first encounter with horseflies on the day! It was also getting quite hot – 27 degrees I saw later – not something I was expecting. I toiled uphill around a tor shaped hill and enjoyed a long metalled cooler stretch with more shady sheep resting alongside it.
I arrived at Bryntail and the ruins there beneath the wall of the Clywedog Dam.
I walked over the bridge and up the steep road – arriving a bit too hot and sweaty to stop at the convenient ceffi with views down to the dam. I walked along the stone walkway for a stretch. then took a 100 metre section of ascent to reach some good views.
Downhill again I passed a picnic spot with its views blocked by a high hedge and the owner of the B&B there mowing his front lawn. It was one of only two places I saw all day that offered accommodation on the trail itself. Mower man gestured to me that I was right to take the path alongside his property down to the lake edge.
What a torrid time I was now having being beset by horseflies, spoiling what would have been a most picturesque stretch of this leg. I noted the yachts moored in the calm waters at the edge of the lake and like a whirling dervish threshed away at the horseflies, not daring to stop for more than a few seconds. Perhaps just as well I didn’t have my shorts on as there would have been more bare flesh to protect. I did think once one tried to bite my face that this was getting completely unacceptable and I must have killed around 30 on the day, my turquoise icebreaker top looking more and more blood-splattered like an insect infested war-zone.
At the end of the lake I went down through a farm where the sheep seemed strangely assertive, not giving way as normal but staring me down instead. The only place I got any respite from the horseflies was in the fields with sheep in – I guess the flies go for them instead. Brushing a tick from my trousers I was pleased to enter the Hafren forest to enjoy some shade and stop briefly for my egg and cress sandwich.
My first cow diversion was ahead with a number of cows and their claves completely blocking the gate across the path. I walked around and then through the farm, hoping not to see either the farmer or one of his many barking sheepdogs. I stopped to ask the builders working on the house nearby if they thought I could cut across field to rejoin the path, but they weren’t sure, only confirming that they had seen walkers on the path at other times. As it happened, a continuation of the roadway I was on rejoined the way without any need for fence climbing or hedge jumping.
The way took a strange loop circuit around the next farm and then a 130 meter assent accent up a grassy slope which was challenging to say the least at the end of what had been a tiring stretch.
I thought I might run out of puff, but sustained by Haribos I made it to the top where I was rewarded with 360 degree views at 425 metres altitude.
I was ready for the downhill stretch from 430 metres to the sadly closed Star Inn visible clearly in the Dylife valley below, with half a rusty broken sign saying sadly “Under new management” which must have been erected 5 years ago when the new owners took over.
The windows were open of the pub, so someone is still living there, but as I observe in the video, it must be devilishly hard to make a commercial success of somewhere so remote, even though for walkers like me it is in a brilliant spot.
Heather and Eirys arrived ten minutes early to pick me up at 14.50 and with no prospect of a beer until we got back to Newtown I made do with a litre of slightly flat diet coke I found in the back of the car. I had drunk all my water.
This is a cracking leg of the Way although it reaffirmed how difficult it must be to do this as a through walk without wild camping, as accommodation options appear pretty limited.
And Heather looked up later what attracts horseflies and confirmed that wearing blue, sweating and having type O positive blood all contribute to one’s attractiveness to the beasties. I’ll know to wear green next time….
For my video thoughts on the day please visit https://youtu.be/emVaPfK5hGs