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Thank You, Sunshine: Miles Walked 72.5
Llandiloes to Dylife
Here’s the forecast for the day when we woke up:
When your plan is to be walking across wide open sheep fields most of the day, those thunderstorm warnings are way less than desirable. We could handle swimming across those fields but getting up-close and personal with a lightning bolt wasn’t in our afternoon plans. We opened the rooms curtains and it was bright and sunny. Who do you believe? The most modern of technology or your own eyeballs? I thought we’d walk until things clouded in and call it a day. As we needed to be picked up by our B&B hosts anyway, we could pay for them to get us before everything went bad. We had a good omen as were preparing to leave Llandiloes, a cat was running through the Inn parking area. When I called her over, she made a beeline to me and rubbed and purred all over us. Based on how perfect the day turned out, I am now getting all my Welsh forecasts from cats.
After getting out of forest around Llandiloes the beautiful views never stopped. Part of me thinks if all I did was send you nothing but pictures it would be the most popular post I’ve ever done. But 600 pictures in a post is a little excessive. I’ll contain myself and just bore you with words instead.
We had a different experience today in that we saw other hikers. Being so used to walking all by ourselves it was a shock to my psyche, and I think I’m going to have to ask the Welsh government for a refund for our entire trip. They are three very nice and funny English folks doing the Glyndwr’s Way like us. We passed each other several times today and we’ll probably see them again. I hope their trip is as fun as ours.
Walking along one ridge we saw a large field filled with small white flowers and there was a momma pony only belly high to me with her baby.
As we stood to take a picture, she took off running right at us and that baby had some trouble keeping up. In horse-ese they said they wanted to say hello to all of you. I’m sorry that the photo doesn’t show much detail of the baby, but she was in the shadows and she’s nearly jet black.
We walked past Bryntail Cottages, two historic building that were built in the mid 19th century in front of the mineshaft for the Grundy lead mine. These were believed to be the mine managers housing. The area we are walking in is filled with old lead mines and tomorrow we will be walking by so many abandoned shafts that if you don’t hear from us, that means we fell in one.
With a bench out front of the building with big views we had a perfect spot for lunch. We pulled out our pasties we bought in Llandiloes and had a delightful sit. Pam’s mom passed away unexpectedly in January, and Pam realized that where we were sitting had three of her mom’s favorite things: decrepit buildings, great views, and pasties. Pam saved a bit of her pasty for mom and scattered her ashes in front of the building. It is such a beautiful place.
We heard the next site long before we saw it, the Clywedog dam and reservoir. The dam was built in 1967 to regulate the flow of the River Severn to mitigate flooding and provide drinking water for West Midlands. The overflow water runs down the steps on the face of the dam, so you hear cascading water for quite a distance. The reservoir is, as you shall see, beautiful.
Below the dam was the fascinating ruins of the Bryntail Lead Mine from the mid-late 1800s. The displays explained how both the lead and baryte (used to make white paint) were mined and processed. There was no sugar coating of just how miserable the work was. The women and children, starting at 9 or 10, hammered rocks into smaller chunks to be processed. The lead mining used a lot of water so was cold nearly year round. The barytes processing was boiling hot. Those working underground had jobs that were back breaking, dangerous, and short-lived. One of the display signs said by his early 40’s a miner’s health was “not worth the snap of your fingers.”
Our route took us around half of the reservoir. There’s boating and fishing allowed on it, and they stock trout in the water. We enjoyed looking at the trout hatchery from higher up. Even though we were 300-400 feet above the water, we could see the trout surfacing in the holding pens. Today must have been a fishing tournament because the angler club had a lot of their boats out with everyone fly fishing.
Walking through a forested area there was a parking lot for a trail, but the trail was closed and six people were standing outside a hut, with more inside. The sign on the hut said that the trail was closed because they wanted to protect the osprey nest you could view from the parking lot. Osprey went extinct in Wales in 1916 but in 2020 a breeding pair from Scotland came down and had a successful hatchling. That’s so exciting! When we lived on Vashon Island off Seattle, every summer night around dusk the osprey used to circle our little cove (appropriately called Paradise Cove) and we loved to sit on the deck and watch them dive. In all the time we watched them I could on one hand where they missed coming up with a fish. It really is a life experience to see an osprey in that dive.
The later afternoon was mostly sunny, and we had a good number of ups and downs. Pam says we must have had the most elevation gain per day here in Wales compared to all the other big hikes we’ve done. When you read about Wales it talks about rolling hills, but they really add up after a 15 mile day. Sure, you’re tired but those views revive you every time (at least me, Pam may beg to differ after mile 12).
On the last 80m (262 ft) up we were walking along a fence when we saw an ATV bouncing over to us. It was the sheep farmer couple who owned the land on the other side of the fence. They wanted to say hello and we chatted for 30 minutes. When I asked how many sheep they had, they said they were a small operation and only had 1,000. That didn’t seem small to me, but for here it is. It’s a tough life being a small farmer, but they’ve been doing it all their lives, raised two sons, and got to visit various places in American and Europe so I consider them very successful. As we were saying goodbye, she told us to eat as much lamb as we could. I told them I would do my level best! Our friend Bobbi was in Wales last year and said she and her kids found the Welsh to be extremely kind and nice. We can completely second that motion.
We are staying at a lovely B&B, The Old School House, about four miles off the path in Llanbrynmair. Bernie picked us up and from that moment, he and Karen have had us laughing. The house is really the old schoolhouse for the tiny town and the conservatory, where I am writing, and the garden are beautiful. We had a great dinner and are being treated like royalty. It’s made all the ups and downs of today worth it.
Thank you all so much for reading!