Day 4 – Longtown to Hay-on-Wye
What could be better for the soul than a full English breakfast before heading out onto the path for another day of walking, and climbing, and descending, and climbing and walking …?
Well, for this day at least, it was tempting to forgo the heavy meal since we knew that we would start the day off with a sheep-only type of hike up the steep slope back to the Offa’s Dyke Path where it passed along the top of Hattarrall’s Hill. But we ate the breakfast and after a Saturday night in Longtown and the nourishment (weight) of a full English breakfast weighing on our minds, we headed back up to the top of the ridge.
The weather was great with just enough breeze to keep it cool for walking and a whole lot of sunshine to keep it warm enough when stopping for a rest. Once up on the ridge the going was much easier and the Offa’s Dyke Path followed right along the top of the ridge. The ridge itself appeared to be a series of small mountain tops worn off over the ages. As we followed the path northward the elevation gain was steady but generally gradual. In typical fashion, none of the paths we followed went in a straight line so we just had to remember to follow the acorn!
Once we got to Hay Bluff we had reached the highest point on the day’s travels and began the rather simple descent down towards Hay-on-Wye. Although the town was still miles away, it was mostly downhill for us but for those going in the opposite direction the steady climb would have been somewhat daunting.
Looking back up at Hay Bluff
When we dropped down from the heights of Hay Bluff, we came upon a gentleman digging around in the open areas. We introduced ourselves and had a wonderful time discussing what he was looking for or was hoping to find, learned a lot about fortifications and likely skirmishes in the area and eventually learned that he was Archie Cole a.k.a. “Black ADA”;. In order to exchange names, etc., we needed paper and a writing instrument. I had paper but had lost my pen the day before. “No problem!”, says Archie as he pulls a mangled bit of lead musket round from his pocket, cleans the dirt off of it and starts writing his name on my piece of paper. I was impressed! Who would have thought that a hunk of lead a few hundred years old would still write :-).
Another look at Hay Bluff as we continued walking downhill towards Hay-on-Wye. As we were walking along, enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery, I began to feel a tingling sensation and began to think about what walking in sunny weather conditions in Wales might do to my complexion. Not enough suntan lotion on the legs. OUCH!
Hay-on-Wye is a small town famous for its number of bookstores (especially used books) and almost everything in the town is focused on the book trade and the general attitude seemed to be quite laid back.
Saw this right in the center of the entrance into one of the pharmacies in the village of Hay-on-Wye. Interesting approach. Message was certainly clear. As we didn’t have swine flu or any of the symptoms of swine flu, the sign didn’t apply to me, but, for me at least, it was interesting that my reaction was to look for a different pharmacy to replenish my first-aid kit.
It had been a long day in the sun and I was happy to get to our B&B, unload our pack sacks, put on fresh clothes and head out for supper.
Our accommodation for the evening in Hay-on-Wye was right next to the river across from a little park with trails going out along the river but, for some reason, I really wasn’t interested in doing any more walking this day. Conveniently located but nothing fancy. Friendly family and very nice breakfast to get us going in the morning. Had a chance to use their computer to get a message to home that I was still alive. Then presented a computer slide show of my Flickr bird set for their young children. Since most of my birds in the Flickr set were North American, some were quite different than what they had ever seen in their back yard. Blue Jays were their favourites.
Another day on the trail was finished but nowhere near the 1/2 way mark, yet. Sleep came quickly this evening.