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Mud Run: 26.5 Miles Walked
Short Ditch to Llanbadarn Fynydd
Though we are in Wales, we had another English breakfast this morning. Should it be called a Welsh breakfast? We need to get the story about what the official name of a giant breakfast should be called. Our friendly taxi driver from yesterday, Sharon, picked us up and dropped us back off exactly where she picked us up, Short Ditch, so we could start day two of the walking. It was socked in and drizzling when we started but we ain’t afraid of the rain!
We were immediately passed by two guys on mountain bikes who were the only people we saw all day. Yesterday we only saw only three other hikers and they were going in the opposite direction. When we say we seek out hikes with no people, we mean it. Now that I’ve shared the secret of this wonderful, no people hike you all must promise me you won’t share it with anyone else.
The first 4.5 miles were through Beacon Commons, a communally used grazing area, which retains most of the moor-like features to the land. Pam said it reminded her of Heathcliff and his moorland house. You probably don’t get the reference either, but it is from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. If moors mean there’s a lot of heather, sheep, wind, bogs, and mud, that describes this part of the walk to perfection. Our feet were soaked and resoaked through this section, but it was beautiful.
As we walked through the wet Pam stopped and was looking at a mud puddle on the path. She found a life form that we’d never seen in the UK, tadpoles! That was a strange diversion in the middle of nowhere. We had to laugh that life always finds a way.
A little after 12:00 Pam declared it was time for lunch and we could use a good sit since we’d been walking for three hours straight. Passing through the tiny village of Ferlindre we couldn’t find any place to sit, but we did find someplace dry, the old bus stop. There was a sign in it that said all bus services will stop on November 2, 2015. There was even a chair, but it and most of the floor were covered in bird poop. At least it was out of the rain, so we were sold. The whole time we ate lunch we were dive bombed by a very insistent swallow. It took far too long for us to turn around and see the swallow’s nest in the upper roof of the bus stop.
During lunch Pam was adamant that I correct a mistake I made in yesterday’s update. I reported that her lunch was a meat pie, but as we learned when buying lunch at the same bakery as yesterday, she was eating a meat pasty. The difference is that a meat pie is what Americans would call a “pot pie” and a pasty is the same meat wrapped in a calzone like pastry crust. It is imperative that we get you the absolute correct information on all aspects of our adventures. We apologize for the confusion.
Leaving Ferlindre, we walked up a long semi-steep path through a field and it was just so heartbreaking. There were the usual sheep, but we ran across a tiny baby lamb laying alongside the path and was obviously very sick. It never tried to get up and run away like all the others. It just laid there barely holding its head up. Continuing up the half a mile of the field we counted seven dead lambs just along the path. When we hiked the English Coast-to-Coast trail before we’d seen an occasional dead lamb, so that’s normal with sheep that are let out into the pastures and left on their own. There is something obviously very wrong happening in that farmer’s field. We slogged on in the drizzle and wind but felt even worse.
Going up and down through more fields of sheep we came on something that cheered us up a little. When you’re walking around these sheep, the older ones, if they are close to the path, will simply walk away from you. The baby lambs will run away from you as soon as you are within 20 feet. One ewe stayed where she was and her baby along with her. That was different. We were near a gate and when we opened and closed it to go through, they moved closer to us! That’s when she spoke to us in baa-ese and said she wanted to say hello to all of you. Here she is with her darling baby.
The last seven miles were up and down various hills all through fields. Some of those fields hadn’t had sheep in them for a while so the grass was more than ankle deep, so our feet got bathed even more in all that wetness. A vehicle had driven up the path and churned up the mud in some areas so that added to the fun. At least the drizzle had stopped but when we got to the tops of hills, we were in the cloud mist.
To be clear, we are not complaining because we are doing this voluntarily and liking it! It’s just the Zen of hiking. There’s good and bad which are required. If you have too much of one or the other, you don’t have the full experience required to appreciate your adventure. Also, it makes you appreciate things like a dry pair of underwear even more. We had a wonderful day yesterday and today wasn’t the best, but we still did it. That’s the elixir of a great vacation (in our opinion, your mileage may vary).
The last two miles were a downhill along a single lane paved road, which we appreciated greatly and took us all the way into Llanbadarn Fynydd, a village of exactly four buildings. One of those used to be a hotel and pub but has closed. Our hotel, Lion Hotel LLanbaster, was a mile or so down the road. Given that we never did get a chance to sit down the entire day, we opted for the scheduled pick up by Ray, the proprietor. I’d encourage you to look at their web site because there’s a lot of interesting history about the place and area.
There were two rooms available, and we got to choose. Of course, we opted for the updated room with the king bed and big shower over the twin beds and old style shower. We got in at 4:00 so had plenty of time to try and dry things out. Don’t tell Ray and Janet, but the heated towel rack in the bathroom makes a great clothes dryer. We’re trying to dry out our shoes, which are being stubborn, but I hope the 16 hours between taking them off and needing to pack them (we have second pairs) will be enough to bring the dryness. As I type this Pam is using her hair dryer to accelerate the process.
Dinner was a big surprise: real Indian curry! Janet and Ray have spent a lot of time in India so brought real spices and dishes to “the rural Welsh countryside.” Both of their families have been in this area forever, so it is neat how the old and new mixed. The curry was excellent, too!
Tomorrow, weather wise, is shaping up to be glorious. Looking outside I can see the clouds breaking up and sky opening. We can’t wait! We better enjoy it because Monday is supposed to make the wet weather we’ve seen today look like a single raindrop. We won’t trade either day for anything. (I just read this to Pam, and she said she might trade Monday.)
As always, thanks for reading!