Categories
Glyndŵr’s Way National Trails

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 6 – Llanidloes to Dylife

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Bridge across the Severn in Llanidloes

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.  

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

TPS52-2021-26 Glyndwŷr's Way Cut Through

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

I arrived at Bryntail and the ruins there beneath the wall of the Clywedog Dam.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife
Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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.

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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. 

Glyndwyr's Way Llanidloes to Dylife

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

Categories
Glyndŵr’s Way National Trails

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 5 – Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

We started this long distance trail 8 years ago in 2013 and have only managed 30 miles of it so far, spread over 4 legs and with the last leg ending in Abbeycwmhir in September 2015. So it was well overdue to tackle another section now that we were in Wales again visiting Eirys for her 87th birthday.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

We took the narrow roads to the start, fortunately not busy this early, as I ideally wanted to get walking by 8am, so that I could be back in plenty of time for the U3A photography group meeting at 4pm. Heather caught the school run on her way back however and had some tricky encounters with school buses playing chicken with her on the lanes.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I had popped into Evans the bakers in Newtown and stocked up on food just after it opened at 7am – lovely fresh rolls and sausage rolls to take with me.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

We managed to avoid running over the black cat on our arrival at Abbeycwmhir and after a quick detour to the entrance to the ruins were pleased to see that the Union pub, closed last time we were here, had reopened for the local community from 7pm to 11pm each evening.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I said farewell to Heather and took the path which started next to the church and right by the green petrol pump – strictly for show only. 

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

After a short climb uphill I had my breakfast roll and started to wend downwards through the shady forest. It was a bit mizzly but if it stayed largely dry all day (which it did) I counted myself as very fortunate.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I crossed my first stream of the day over a ford bridge and came out on the roadside by the Foresters’ Cottage, taking the road to the right. For some reason I lost confidence in my direction and doubled back, thinking I was going wrong but I actually wasn’t. It would be simple enough if I just looked for the signposts, which were very well placed along the way.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I went further along the road past Fishpool farm and it started to rain gently. Not enough to put the raingear on and I enjoyed the cooling in the soft rain, observing the sheepdog guarding farm by coming out on to the road to investigate if he thought I was any threat, which I wasn’t he soon established. 

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I had to jump off the road as a car whizzed by at high speed – everyone seems in a rush these days, or maybe I’m becoming a dawdler.

After a steep climb I ended up in deep wet grass where I should have followed a sheep trail, but didn’t, noting that in future I should take these trails as the sheep know the quickest route across their fields from side to side.

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I saw the first cows of the day with their young calves but after waving at them assertively, they backed off – phew.

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I could see and hear the sheep herding going on well below me down in the valley, before failing the first of my two different gate initiative tests – eventually managing to get both open, luckily no one watching my embarrassed fumbling.

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

In Bylch-y-Sarnau I saw the community centre, but no sign of the community. In fact apart from the driver and the distant drover, I hadn’t seen anyone. So while the defibrillator in the phone box was a really good idea in principle, if anyone did need resuscitating there wasn’t anyone about to operate the equipment.

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

The high unmistakeable sound of a buzzard was answered by the bellow of a distant bull, animals and birds being my only signs of life this trip.

Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I imagined there would be woozles in the thick forest running alongside the path and enjoyed this nice flat woodland section with birdsong to listen to as I went along at a good pace.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

Inevitably the flat section ran out and I started climbing up towards Waun, putting the buzzard on the telephone pole into flight as I tried to photograph it.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr's Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

The sudden arrival of a phone signal and accompanying data, had my phone pinging with new emails and what’s apps.

Gradually the early morning mist was lifting and as a result some far reaching views were appearing. Sheep farm after sheep farm after sheep farm and I arrived at one just before a big sheep movement was about to start with excited barking sheep dogs, some out rounding them up, some waiting to help in the backs on landrovers – I got past just in time, remembering that time in New Zealand when the flock went on for over half an hour…. 

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I reached the 1/2 way mark and at 400m I rewarded myself with a sausage roll after a short diversion due to a lack of signposting – the first such instance.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

Shortly thereafter I met a couple from west country, out walking from their nearby rented cottage. I remarked that they were first people I had seen today, and the lady said I was first person other than her husband she had seen for two weeks!

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

A very steep downhill section had me thinking about whether I should be carrying poles, but I wasn’t so that’s that. I just was very careful not to slip. 

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

The bank of windvanes above me looked a little undervalued today as they were hardly turning at all – I expect they are calibrated for some very strong winds on occasions…

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes
Windvanes are not for turning round here
Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes
Signs of quarrying
Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I then got to the bottom of the valley and the next section was very steep so steep the next steep bit felt quite shallow!  I had to slalom my way uphill diagonally as it was too steep to go straight up.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes
glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes
glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

It was a very tough, very sweaty section and I was pleased when the trail levelled out a bit.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes
Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

I had a very one sided conversation with the farmer, whose monosyllabic grunts didn’t encourage me at all, and I wasn’t all that surprised when this section of the trail across his land but with a right of way, sent me needlessly to the end of his fields and back and then through a boggy section which I’m sure he could sort out.

Glyndwyr Way Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes

There is a perfectly good gravel road that one could take which would cut all that out, but I rather think he has been deliberately obtuse. Hey ho – I see that european funding has been made available to buy some nearby land and maybe the National Trails are considering a re-route.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

I emerged at pug avenue, where a cacophony of barking sent me swiftly on my way, especially when I saw the very large bull mastiff, who looked capable of escaping from it’s pen and was being very vocal too.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

I passed the Welsh Mountain Cider site – not open today, but I must book for our visit.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

A few more ups and downs to streams followed, I had my sandwich lunch and watched as two buzzards circled ahead – presumably eyeing up my cheese and pickle.

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

On my way towards the outskirts of Llanidloes, I met one other walker coming the other way, breaking my duck for the day.

glyndwyr's way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

It was now lovely full sunshine and it was with a sense of relief I read that it was mostly downhill all the way for the last 2km, which passed quickly as with tired legs I was looking to meet Heather and Eirys in a local pub – and got the text to say they were in the Red Lion just as I crossed the bridge over the bypass into town. I had ordered two pints of shandy as I knew the first would be gone in seconds – which it was!

glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

We were in plenty of time as it was only 2.30pm and I had completed the 15.5 miles in 6.5 hours – pretty good going considering the volatility of the terrain.

glyndwyr's way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes
glyndwyr way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

I was pleased to have completed this section, which although slightly samey, with sheep a-plenty all along the way, was nevertheless attractive in its own way and certainly easy for social distancing!

glyndwyr's way abbeycwmhir to llanidloes

For the 5 minute video of the day – see https://youtu.be/7ejC4JZYK4U

Categories
Glyndŵr’s Way National Trails

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 4 – Llanbadarn Fynydd to Abbeycwmhir

imageHeather’s birthday – and quite a landmark one too, found us in Newtown and Eirys kindly offered to drop us off for the fourth leg of this splendid walk. We weren’t sure about the weather and the accuracy of the forecast, but despite being abandoned by the BBC, the met office came through well with an accurate projection on the morning of scattered showers and cloud with a sunny outlook later.

So having taken some windy roads across the top of some lovely scenic hills, we pulled up in Abbeycwmhir and were advised by the locals that our car parking spot was ok. Then on to Llandbadarn Fynydd where Eirys dropped us by the New Inn, the site of our last stop. A short walk back to the church and we were across the river and away.

Fairly soon we were trekking uphill and looking for the clump of trees that we needed to turn left at. Despite being a fairly obvious clump, maybe we were distracted by the circumnavigation of the bovines in the field before it (note to self – a red base layer may not be the best choice in bull infested countryside…) but we missed the turning and overshot by a few hundred yards, having to cut diagonally across to rejoin the path. Thank heavens for smartphones and the foresight to download a map.image

Walking along a fine ridge, with the gorse in full yellow bloom and the purple heather pushing shyly through to create that magic combination of colours, when the sun came out the scene was fantastic. Even without the sun you’d be hard pressed to find more beautiful surroundings. What a privilege it is to have the health and the time to be able to walk. Why weren’t others out? We saw no-one else walking all day. In fact we only saw one other person, a postman, who waved cheerily at us later in the walk on a short stretch of road – he almost looked surprised to see us too. We weren’t complaining about the solitude. It was certainly a lovely contrast to Cornwall.

Downs and ups across the hill tops with fine views in all directions, and the occasional stiff breeze keeping us cool – ideal walking conditions.

We passed an isolated house which looked abandoned but in a great setting overlooking the valleys even if a trip to the shops or pub would have been a mission it seemed a shame that no one was using it. No sign of any four by four traffic from the farmhouse below.

The splendidly named Tynypant was on our route and thereafter a steep climb to the top of a ridge where a triangulation beacon beckoned. 440 metres apparently – we went to almost the top before steeply descending to a choice of paths where we again made the wrong decision before doubling back to take the steep downhill path through the gate and past the dead sheep into the woodlands alongside a small river.image

An entirely different section of the walk followed, through trees alongside a babbling brook, going up and down before coming out in a hedgerow lined lane which we stayed on for a mile or so. Then we took steps up into the hills above the road, passing a couple of fine Victorian houses that must command a pretty penny even in this remote part of the UK.

Eventually we wound our way down to the abbey ruins, passing the hall, with its 52 rooms and eccentric owner tours on the way, stopping in the small visitor centre to swot up on the history of the abbey.image

The union pub, which despite the terrific pub sign of a man riding his goat, looked like someone’s house, was closed, and so we drive back along some adventurous single width tracks where we were delighted not to come across oncoming traffic as there was no where we could pass each other. Clearly our sat nav system knows no fear.

We had completed 9.4 miles, in just under 4 hours. It was officially 8.6 miles but we did take a few wrong turnings! This fourth leg complete takes our total on the walk to 31 miles – just over 100 still to go!

Back in Newtown the remains of yesterday’s lamb curry and a pint of beer were welcome sights and we had enjoyed a very pleasant leg of this excellent walk in beautify Mid Wales.

Thanks vey much to Eirys for her driving us there as without the logistical support we decided it would be quite tricky to arrange this walk independently.image

Categories
Glyndŵr’s Way National Trails

Glyndŵr’s Way Day 3 – Felindre to Llanbadarn Fynydd

Felindre to Llanbadarn Fynydd – 7.5 miles (12 Km)

I confess that I forgot to write this leg of the walk up and so I’m doing it about a year later, in fact the day before we are due to do the fourth leg.

So as a result I don’t remember very much about it. Heather reminded me of the Springer spaniel puppies at the start of the walk after Eirys had kindly dropped us off in Felindre. I remember now that we very nearly didn’t get any further as Heather fell in love with all 8 heaving lumpy characters that were soooo pleased to see us. We nearly abandoned the walk and phoned for an early pick up, with 8 wriggling pups in tow.

Luckily sense prevailed and we had a bright walk across fields and various farms, one of which we needed to take a serious circuit of, to avoid the bovine livestock that was waiting to pounce. It probably added half a mile or more, but we were in no hurry.

It did however make us committed to roast beef for lunch, as our contribution to helping keeping the way clear for walkers.

And so at the end of the walk we arrived at the New Inn where we met Eirys and had a splendid roast dinner before taking the road back to Newtown.

We were supposed to see the ruins of a castle. If we did, it has made not much of an impression in the memory. I do remember this being a pleasant if forgettable leg of the walk. But the lunch was a memorable one…

Categories
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!

Categories
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.