We’d asked Mary if we could have breakfast at 7.30am and she delivered. We walked downstairs and she was in the process of drowning various parts of a dead pig in oil for us. My arteries hardened just watching it. She made me a tea and made Tarrant make her own coffee because she “hates the stuff!”
She sat us at the table with the cereal, unsure what else to feed Tarrant as she can’t have milk on her cereal. We tried to assure her it was fine but she went through a list of alternative food before landing on baked beans. She came in with the eggs frying in the pan.
“Do you like them basted?” she asked, basting them anyway, inches from Tarrant’s face as the oil hissed and spat.
Guys, I fucking love Mary. She’s such a legend. I feel like I’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of chinz and lavender and spat back out on the trail, not entirely sure exactly what just happened. Her home is exactly as you’d imagine the home of an 85 year old woman to look, but she’s not your average 85 year old woman. She breezed into the conservatory, waving at the view as she opened windows.
“Hello, that place called England! Hello, Hay-on-Wye! Hello, Black Mountains! They’re coming! She doesn’t like milk!”
We were back on the trail by 9ish I think.
“Best day of the ten, today,” Mary told us, though I don’t know what psychopath is completing the Offa’s Dyke Path in ten fucking days. We’d seen the elevation profile and knew we had a brutal climb in our future to get onto the ridge, and brutal it was, but not awful. We took our time, stopping frequently to turn around and put the view in our eyeholes. Astounding.
Then it was… well it was a plod. You’re up on a ridge for the vast majority of today but oh my gosh, the eyehole fodder! England to one side, a patchwork of different coloured fields, Wales to the other, a wild landscape of hills and heather. There are a metric fuck tonne of ponies up here too which are way less intimidating than cows but still slightly larger than I’m comfortable with.
There are three trigpoints bang on the trail today too if you’re of a vaguely nerdy persuasion. That helped break the day up for us. There’s still a distinct lack of benches too but North Daran trigpoint has had a bench-like platform built around it. A woman had just sat down as we got there so we sat and chatted with her for a while as we shovelled the butties Mary gave us into our chops.
I didn’t catch her name but she’s from Yorkshire and she’s walked loads of cool trails including one from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean across France and Spain. I have so many new ideas now. Let’s get this idea completed first though shall we?!
The weather decided to spice things up for us a bit. Fuck my life, that wind! It was biting. The kind of wind that whistles up your nose and freezes your frontal lobe. We ended up stopping to put a waterproof jacket on just to to it from getting to our bones, but it also came in handy when the rain came in. Oh good.
We made our way along the ridge then it drops as you start the final approach to Hay-on-Wye. I think the downhill is worse than the uphill. My quads begged to know when it was going to end as they slowly turned to mush. We descended from the ridge and made our way across the last few miles. How was it still so fucking far away? Was someone picking it up and moving it? Fuck’s sake!
Of course they weren’t, we arrived at the town and made our way to the turn off to our campsite. “It’s only half a mile off the trail” rapidly became “it’s half a fucking mile off the trail!” as we hobbled up the slight incline. It’ll be nice to be back under canvas I think, it’s been a while. It’s not canvas either, it’s sil-nylon, but that doesn’t sound as romantic.
We’ve been to Hay-on-Wye before but it was a whistle stop tour of Wales and we only spent a couple of hours here. Tomorrow we have the whole day to meander around their disproportionate quantity of bookshops, consume my body weight in cream teas, and hopefully catch up with a couple of mates who are driving over from the coast to see us.
Pandy, Sir Fynwy (Monmouthshire) to Y Gelli Gandryll (Hay-on-Wye), Powys, Wales
Stayed at: Radnors End Campsite, Hay-on-Wye
Useful shit to know…
- There is nothing along this section. Absolutely fuck all. Make sure you have enough water and food to get you to Hay-on-Wye which is your first place for pubs, shops and public toilets.
- I don’t believe there are any public toilets in Pandy.