‘Just head up this road, turn right into the High Street, across the bridge and past the Church. Then you are going UP! It’ll be really hilly.’
‘I am sorry, but that is what everyone says, every morning.’
‘No, this is actually the hilliest part of the whole walk.’ There is a certain sort of pride to be had in being the —iest in something. Offa’s Dyke Path towns seem to choose ‘hilliest’. Unfortunately, my landlords were right—again! I am in the Shropshire Hills. Do you remember that Nescafe ad: ‘How exotic, where are you from?’ ‘Shropshire.’ ‘Oh.’ On the sign that Welcomes you, they have illustrated the hills like a series on ‘n’s—straight up and a slightly more sloping down. That pretty much got them right. L— and D— from the Crown Inn told me there were four bad ups, three bad downs and then a lovely sloping down onto the Montgomery plain and the Severn Valley floor. But hills aren’t like going to the second floor of Chaddy—I was never quite sure when I had done one climb or one descent. It was a greatly challenging day with some really lovely scenery. It was a gratifying moment to finally look down and see the long, long slope of the last downhill.
I did have two epiphanies today. One: busting a gut is not worth it. It is only me who sets a standard of how far to go each day or as a whole and so there is no one to impress with making it unenjoyable. Two: it is no longer worth the lack of sleep and discomfort of sleeping outdoors just to save money you have saved to take a ‘holiday’. I decided the rest of the holidays I would stay in B&Bs or camping grounds if they appeared.
This then made me stress about getting one type of accommodation rather than having options. I am my own worst nightmare! I started looking for accommodation in Mellington Hall then Brompton Farm. No luck. I had to do the speed walk into Montgomery and then bite my own words by paying an exorbitant amount for the only available indoor accommodation! That’ll learn ya.
The room was nice though, looking out onto the square, comfy soft sink-into bed, alarm clock (no stress-about-waking sleeping), and even a tiny little carafe and glass of sherry for before bed. And everyone in the hotel was chatty. I chatted over dinner to a couple who holiday either here or Scotland, but the latter is too wet this year. Chatted to the landlord who was formerly the mayor. Chatted to the whole family of landlordians who needed to clear out the garage tomorrow. Chatted to another single female, carrying (ie. not having her luggage transferred from B&B each day and only having a day pack; my word to distinguish the ‘real’ walkers from the imitation). She was about fifty-five, maybe older. She had passed me one morning earlier in the trip when I had crashed out for a break on some soft grass. Now, she had had enough and was going to walk one more day and then find a nice place to stay in Welshpool for the rest of her holiday. Chatted to another couple and their cutest little gem of a dog—Gem—who holiday either here or Scotland, but the latter is too wet this year. P— used to be a merchant seaman and had spent a lot of time in Melbourne—mostly St Kilda—in the early sixties. Needless to say it was a late night—and I still had to have time for my before-bed sherry. There was a decided lack of sequining going on tonight.
Good night to Montgomery, good night to you.