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A Sunday Stroll: Miles Walked: 143.2
Pont Llogel to Meifod
Pam was in heaven this morning at breakfast. The traditional Welsh/English breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, and tomato makes the inner caveman in me say “Me like protein good,” but it’s a little much for Pam. When pancakes were on The Kings Head menu, along with American bacon, she was all in. With the partially cloudy morning, it was a full brace for her. (Brace as in scoring two goals in a football match. As in soccer, not the American butting of heads. We are in Wales after all, and this tiny place qualified for the recent World Cup!)
Most villages in Wales have a Post Office where the postmaster also runs a small convenience store. We popped into the shop to get our lunch supplies and the postmaster was so helpful in telling us what premade pasties we should get, if visiting some places were worth it, and so on. She was so helpful with the advice we asked if there was a consulting fee. She said she surprised herself with all the recommendations.
To get back to Pont Llogel, where we left off our adventure yesterday, the tour company booked a taxi to pick us up. It was a few minutes late, but the driver made up those minutes by driving like a maniac on nothing but single car width curvy country roads. He was also answering various phone calls the whole time. My favorite was a call from someone asking when the driver was going to deliver his package. Since it was a Sunday, I couldn’t think what that package would be. The driver just answered, “I’ll get your 18 cans of Carling’s to you by 10:30.” To translate: that’s 18 pints of Carling beer. What the hell kind of party is the caller throwing that early? If it was just for the caller, someone needs to possibly check into rehab. When we got out of the cab, we looked at each other and were relieved you all weren’t reading our obituaries.
Today, Glnydŵr’s Way shared part of the path with Anne Griffith’s Way. Griffiths is known for her devotional hymns in the Welsh language and is much celebrated today. Interestingly, she wrote very little of her poetry down. While Griffiths is rightfully celebrated, we would know nothing of her work without the assistance of her maid, Ruth Hughes. Griffiths recited many of them to Hughes, who would memorize them. A few Griffiths wrote down, but Hughes, who could read but not write, would memorize those as well. Hughes would recite the verses to her husband to ensure they were written down. After learning the story of Griffiths, I think Ruth Hughes should be given a much more prominent role in the story. As usual, the employee does the work, and the employer gets the credit.
Today’s walk was relatively easy compared to days in the past. Soon after we started, we came to a field we needed to cross but all 30 or so of the sheep were packed in directly behind the gate. Pam channeled her inner shepherdess and moved the flock along so we could continue. After herding our four cats (yes, we are weirdo cat people), the sheep are easy.
Given that this is flatter country than we have been hiking previously we are walking through larger fields of grass that are used for silage instead of grazing. If you have driven through the country and seen those big plastic covered bails that many people call “marshmallows”, that’s silage. These fields are calf high in grass and, like the ones we saw today, are covered in dandy lions. While a weed, huge numbers of dandy lions have an interesting beauty that we appreciated.
We took a break at the highest point of today’s walk and reveled in the gorgeous views of the Welsh countryside. The partial clouds, amazing views, and excellent pasties made a memory that will last a lifetime.
Something I haven’t written about are the sounds of Wales. All through this hike the background track has been singing birds. This is especially noticeable in the higher points. They are very hard to see, but the Song thrush is our favorite. When you’re at the top of a hill, you have the sound of the constant wind, but this tiny bird will sing its little heart out for minutes at a time. I wish we would have recorded some of the songs as they are extravagant, long, and a glory to nature. Given their tiny size they sure can belt out a tune!
A couple of times we have heard a cuckoo bird. The first time we heard one I couldn’t help but look around to see who had placed a grandfather clock up on the moors. Then I had to wonder who was walking all the way up here to wind that clock. I’ve never heard a real cuckoo before so that was special.
After leaving our view spot, we were mollified by the gorgeous village of Dolanog. As we walked into the village, we had a nice chat with a local man about our hike and Wales. He was so thrilled that we got to hear a real cuckoo. He told us that in the forest just below where we took our break, for years he used to hear a cuckoo like clockwork (sorry, I could not resist the pun!) every year starting between May 18 to 20 when it finished its migration. He was quite sad that there’s fewer and fewer birds each year.
In Dolanog, we looked at the church as well as the ubiquitous World War I monument. Each village of a few houses has a monument to the Great War, and it is heartbreaking to realize that in a village of 200 people at that time, there’s 20 names on the monument.
Starting at Dolanog the path followed the River Vyrnwy for four or five miles. It was a nice change from big ups and downs to hear a rollicking river at your left side. It didn’t make for great photography but trust us that it was beautiful. At one point we passed a very old rough stone house. Peeking inside we could see that it still had the old stove, original plates on the counters, and was abandoned long ago.
Our final break was in the pretty town of Ponte Robert. As we were relaxing in the town picnic area, we saw a couple bringing in four sheep. It didn’t look that hard to make sheep do anything. The wife had a bucket of what must have been amazing sheep food because the first sheep was following her like a puppy begging for a treat. The other three sheep looked scared and just followed the leader. I guess it doesn’t take much to make sheep do your bidding.
The clouds had gathered the longer we walked and as we got closer to Meifod, we started getting spit on. We ran to get under a huge oak tree to put on our rain gear. The Welsh weather has trained us very well and we knew how spitting could turn into full on rain in an instant. By the time we wrestled on our rain pants and jackets, the spitting had stopped. We’d rather be prepared than wet at this point.
We greatly appreciated the hike today as it didn’t have all the ups and downs as we’ve done, it had its own quiet and charm. It was like a Sunday stroll compared to the previous days. That is, if you call 12.9 miles a stroll.
Thank you so much for reading!