Statistics: 17.3 miles, ascent 2481′, 8 hours
Nicki Kempston, last night’s host at The Mulberry Tree, makes a practice of waking early to bake blueberry muffins and make musili to combine with local raisin bread and local honey. Breakfast was delicious and what a way to start a day of walking!
We left her cozy garden in a heavy mist which soon became a brief rain. Our earlier hiking friend, Paddy, was walking through Hay-on-Wye as we left so he joined us again. The quaint, local deli was open and we grabbed lunch to pack away for later.
Our path took us along the River Wye for about a mile.
We met a very interesting older man from Hay who was walking his dog. He owned the Bell Book Shop in town, named for his previous, recently deceased, 14 year old dog, Bell. This man was recovering from cancer and was visibly and cheerfully so glad to be alive. As we spoke, he burst into song and proudly sang “Old Man River” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” What an encouraging and cheery way to begin the day!
As we approached Newchurch, we came upon a sign in front of St. Mary’s Church: “Tea and snacks for a small donation.” Since we were feeling a few hunger pangs, we visited the unmanned chapel, where we made our tea and ate a few snacks. We visited with other walkers who stopped by, including Harry, a man we had met on the first day of our trek. Harry had spontaneously decided to take this hike a couple days before hitting the trail, coincidentally following our path.
We soon came to the tiny village of Gladestry, where we stopped at the Royal Oak Pub, a traditional village pub, for a lime and soda. As we entered, the “regulars” at the bar looked up from their beverage to acknowledge our presence, then returned to their conversation in a deep, Welsh accent, heavier than we could understand.
The climbing for the day began as we arose to the crest of Hergast Ridge, where we again observed the cute, little, wild, Welsh ponies.
Just before descending into the village of Kington, we noticed the trail was adorned with a number of unique, Monkey Puzzle trees. (Note: Monkey Puzzle trees are also known as “monkey tail trees or Chilean pine”, native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina (Courtesy of Wikipedia). I wonder how they made their way to Wales… )
Once in Kington we easily found our beautiful, Georgian B&B, Church House; my mother had arrived earlier and was waiting for us. Our fabulous hosts, Andrew and Lis Darwin, welcomed us and ushered us into their manicured garden for the traditional, afternoon’s tea and cake. What a wonderful way to greet guests!