The hardest day of walking, and the longest. Started off well with a kitty! But no breakfast…it was too complicated to try and get to an open place (which were precious few and far away). Thankfully, I had two Kind bars in my pack! I wasn’t sure what was going to happen about lunch, but I had 11 miles to walk and couldn’t dilly-dally!
From here the Walk was along the river and very pretty, if not particularly dramatic. And that was fine!
At this point, about 4 miles into the day, the Walk shifted from river and fields and woods to … paved road. It was no surprise, the book was specific about it (so I wore my Allbirds instead of hiking boots). The road is an old Roman trading road, so that’s interesting, but it was still tedious. As you can see, there’s really no place for a person to walk except in the road. Thankfully, there was little traffic, but I did have to jump into hedgerows a couple of times.
I finally got off the paved part of the Way, onto very packed and rocky bridle trail. Not to complain, but it *was* a little hard on the feet.
The majority of the last 5 miles of the day was orchards and bridle paths, not all that interesting, until I came across this little church. St. Mary’s. The tower was built in the 14th century, and the church was mostly rebuilt in 1679. It has remained mostly unchanged since that time.
My Fitbit was reading 13 miles at this point, and I hadn’t had any lunch, or really any proper food all day. It had been a long slog of a day, not horrible, just hard on the body. This church offered…….sanctuary!
I stayed at the church for about 30 minutes, resting my feet for the remainder of the Walk, which I was hoping was not much further. My B&B was marked on the OS Map, and was not far off the Walk.
The hosts hadn’t really given me good information about how to get to the house from the path. I wandered around from gate to gate for a while, and there was a doggo barking at me the whole time. It seemed friendly enough, but one never knows! Eventually I found a gate that passed through a little field of sheep and on into the yard.
From here, though, things got a little weird, and kept me from giving this B&B 5 stars. In my original correspondence with the hosts, they told me they’d take me to the cafe in town for my dinner. I assumed Edward would mention it well before the cafe closed at 5. It was about 3:00 at this point.
So I went to my room and rested for a bit. About 4 PM I headed downstairs to find him or his wife, Claire. I found her in the office, and she was……less than friendly. In fact, she seemed quite put-upon. She said nothing about giving me a ride. Awkward! So I said, well, it looks like there’s a store and cafe in walking distance (after I’d already walked 15 miles)….no response. Edward had disappeared to do farm things, and he was the one who had originally made the offer. All this felt very odd. Like, was I their first guest who came in on foot from the Walk? Did they have no idea how to accommodate me?
So I started walking to the end of their long (about 1/2 mile) lane to the main highway, where the cafe was about 1/2 mile from the drive. Only to find a VERY BUSY ROAD with no verge or room for walking. I turned around to walk back. By now it was clear the cafe would be very near closing by the time I got back to the house. I walked by Claire’s office and she asked me if I got food. I told her no, there was no place for a person on foot to walk to the store. SHE LIVES THERE, SHE SHOULD KNOW THAT! She very grumpily asked if I wanted her to drive me. I said no and left the room.
I just went upstairs at this point and closed the door to my room. Hungry and tired.
FINALLY, she knocked on the door and told me Edward was bringing fish and chips. Hooray! She sort of apologized by saying she’d had a hard day. Well, okay. Edward came home with the hugest pile of fish and chips I’ve ever seen. The fish planks were the size of side tables, wrapped in newspaper like in Ye Olden Dayes. I was just relieved to not go to bed hungry.
The toughest day of the walk. The disappointment of the earlier weirdness was existential — of all the places I was to stay along the Walk, I had looked forward to this one the most and was sorry to not have longer to stay. Now I was really glad I was only spending one night.
And then it started to rain, in earnest. And the forecast called for heavy rain all the next day. Facing another 11-mile walk, I made an executive decision and called Tracy, the woman who was taxi-ing my bag on to Hay-on-Wye the next morning. Any chance I could get a ride?
Not only did she cheerfully agree, she also told me there was a bridge out about halfway along the Way with no detour! That would have been a very unpleasant surprise, indeed. There was no mention of it on the WVW web site.
Fed, bathed, and settled on a ride the next day, sleep came easily and deep. I opened the window a touch to hear the rain, and shook off the negativity of the afternoon.
10 May, 2022
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