Saturday, July 3, 2010

197.3 kms: Hay-Chapel House-Disgwylfa Hill-Gladestry-Hergest Ridge-Kington.

You may have noticed a gap in the dates between this blog and the last: I have been giving my feet a bit of a break by putting them up (a little) in Cheltenham. Thinking that Hay would be a good place to get to other parts of the country from on the basis of its touristyness, I embarked on the journey. It ended up being a four bus, four hour journey. I am disorientated as to where I am in relation to anything else, but I feel quite sure I am not four hours away from Cheltenham. It was a lovely break. In the evenings A—— and I would go for adventurous drives in the surrounding country—enabling me to see more of the Cotswolds. We went to a roman villa which we peered at over the National Trust walls; we went to the alternative source of the Thames, which I found almost a little religious. It is called Seven Springs. You descend into a hollow, between a main road and pub of the same name, and a truck stop, and there, from the wall of the hollow, are seven points where water, cold and fresh, comes from the ground, and possibly ends up carrying ships and the mighty city of London on its back. We also went to Hidcote Gardens which is an amazing warren of garden ‘rooms’ in the grounds of Hidcote Manor. It was beautiful. We were lucky to be there late and so fairly alone as we wandered around and walked barefoot on the grass.
On the second I started back to Hay—thinking I would arrive lunchtime and be able to walk out straight away. I did not factor in, again, my penchant for late lie ins. Although S—— woke me at eight, I slept again ‘til at least ten. I think that my dizzies were the result of pure, unadulterated exhaustion, and the lovely long sleeps I have had in the last few days have completely cured me of them. I got ready and started the journey back after twelve which meant that I didn’t get back to Hay, this way, until fiveish. I didn’t want to walk out at that time. I also didn’t want to pay for a B&B, and so was happy to notice a camping ground just outside Hay. It was nice comfy grass and relatively flat with a lovely sunsetting view over Hay—it almost made me like camping. I even slept quite well.
The sunshine in relation to a perfectly positioned, east facing, bivvy bag placement got me up at sevenish and on the road by eight-thirty—miracles do happen! It was flat for all of about three minutes and then the hills started. There was an evil field to cross first though. It’s a strange phenomena these rights-of-ways. Do they precede land ownership? Do farmers who are obviously adverse to them—obvious through their posting horrible little, yellow, signs that ask you to please ensure you stay on the edge of the field to avoid damaging their crops and then don’t maintain the path so that your choice is stepping on their crops or traversing every conceivably horrible weed known to mankind—meet the same criteria of people who move into St Kilda and then complain about prostitutes? Suffice it to say, in the damn annoying habit I have of trying not to offend, I mostly didn’t step angrily on whatever crop the farsehole was growing and ended up with welted red legs that itched all day.
It makes sense that if you want to either protect your dominion, or let others know that you place a border between them and you, that you would place your dyke (if that’s the border indicator you are wont to use) where everyone could see it most easily or you could see them most easily: on top of every hill. So over every hill we go.
I stopped for the drink of choice for this trip—OJ and lemonade, just a tad of ice, no wonder I am not losing any weight—in Gladestry and then up the biggest hill for the day. I bemoan the hills, but they are amazing when you get to the top. They are mostly moors, lots of sheep to scare, great views. And I actually like going up—masochistic I know, but it is a great sense of achievement and makes you hurt in a way that feels good. What I can’t abide is going down. If it didn’t mean that you would end up in the stratosphere (which again I don’t mind, it would be nice and cool, but slightly hard to breath in), I would be happy to go up and along forever. But no, along comes ‘down’ to spoil the day! So down into Kington I went and decided on the success of last night to camp again. The ground was even flatter, even more lovingly green grassed. There were good strong pressure showers. But the sleep wasn’t fabulous.
I went back into town before that though and had a pretty mediocre dinner. I was watching the village politics between three girls in a group of boys. One was pregnant. She came along with the father after I had been there for a while. The girls said: ‘Ooh, we were just talking about you.’ I had wondered who they meant a few minutes earlier when they hoped that someone was just about in the worst possible labour pains she could be.
I think everyone thought I was a little mad spending Saturday night down at the pub sewing sequins. Is it any madder than the usual things people get up to in pubs on a Saturday night.
I was just trying to settle into bed when the people in the caravan next door decided a few fireworks in the field next door would be the greatest of ideas. Every boom scared the bejeebers out of me. Blessedly, it also scared the bejeebers out of their own dogs and children. It did also wake up two walkers who must be the early walking type because I think they had been in bed since prior to my arrival home. They didn’t last long, and I drifted into the restless sleep of the camper in a Gore-Tex cocoon.
Good night Kington, good night you.

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