I escaped to Wales
Everyone needs a weekend away with mates, so Al and I headed to Wales as a good halfway point for us. I’d booked a little cottage on the edge of Hay on Wye and then work overtook both of us and I didn’t pay it much more attention.
When I arrived, Al had a last-minute zoom meeting to present, so I dropped my bags, grabbed my phone and headed off in search of a footpath. And what a treat I discovered. Like I said, I had booked the cottage and then run, so when I opened my OS app to see what was around I was first surprised to find I was on a stream, then I realised I was actually on the Welsh English border and then as I zoomed in on the footpath I had found, I saw it was Offa’s Dyke!
Offa was determined to quell the unruly Welsh and impose his authority, and this he did by building one of the most remarkable structures in Britain. Sometime during the 780s, Offa decided on the construction of a great earth wall and ditch, or dyke, running from ‘sea to sea’. – English Heritage
It is a path I have always wanted to walk in its entirety and lo and behold, I’d booked a cottage that sits on it! So, of course, I dashed along the lane, across the stream and onto Offa’s Dyke. It wasn’t what I expected. I was in a field surrounded by sheep. The sheep I did expect, but not the big flat field. That wasn’t going to stop any rampaging Welshmen or women 😀 I was positively skipping.
Pen y Fan
The following day we headed to the hills. Pen y Fan is the tallest point in the Brecon Beacons. The weather was not great, yesterday has been wall to wall blue skies, today it was grey, but at least it wasn’t raining. I we drove to the base I kept looking up at the cloud line and the peak was definitely out of sight. After a quick discussion, we both agreed that we would turn around the minute we felt uncomfortable or exposed. We were taking the easy route, but even so, we double checked everything before we set off. I crossed the road then had to return to the van because I was still wearing my red leather shoes. IDIOT. Walking boots on and we set off, again. The path was a four miles circular with a very, very clear path underfoot. In fact, this track is known as the motorway in summer.
Up we went and as we got closer to the summit, we walked up into the clouds. Visibility was okay. Far from epic, none of the incredible views were available, but there was something very magical about seeing people come in and out of the mist. We stopped to catch our breath and check on each other. We had around thirty meters visibility so we felt comfortable and could easily see the edge of the precipice so continued towards the top. Underfoot, ice and snow were adding to the surreal quality, which was completed when a skylark started singing on the path ahead of us.
At one point a summit loomed ahead of us and we had to scramble up icy covered steps and rock, only to find we were at Corn Du. Pen y Fan was still ahead of us, even if we couldn’t see it. We began to head downhill, which felt like a funny way to get to the highest point in the Beacons, but after a short walk we were there! I bloody loved it. Even without the views, it was amazing and I can’t wait to come back and do one of the longer ridge walks. So long as I have blue skies and no wind!
Just for the shits and giggles the next morning, we rocked up at Builth Wells and joined their park run. Three loops on the flat, on tarmac. All very easy, but dull. Who’d have thought I’d miss the Lanhydrock Hill? After that we went and bagged some waterfalls. We were going to swim, but I was struggling to get warm so we nixed that.
We went shopping, bought books and stuff. Grabbed cheese and wine and spent the evening plotting a new book! And then we drove to our respective homes and slept!
A pitch perfect weekend.