Short day. Planned it that way. I had a lie in, visited the bank and then a leisurely coffee and non-egg based breakfast in a coffee shop before heading off to meet the Offa’s Dyke Path. Starting at the start had not been possible off the bridge like I had imagined. You would have to go back a couple of k’s and then walk them again. I’m not that much of a stickler for starts.
The terrain is already vastly different. The track follows—for this section at least—the valley of the Wye River. It’s stunning, the banks rise dramatically on either side of the river—necessitating climbs whenever the tracks moves remotely from the side of the river. The surrounding hills are covered in fir trees. This gives the vista a completely different look.
The track is mostly through forest and farm, heading off roads as quickly as it can. It, like the Cotswold Way, is also well marked and well maintained. I did have to get my compass out once because of a profusion of optional tracks. None of them seemed to go the right way even when I took the upside-downess of the compass into account. So I just hunched it, and luckily hunched right. The track turned out of the forest and onto a beautiful foot-only bridge over the Wye and into Tintern. There were about a million people taking photos of the abbey. Let me put that into the speak of someone who hasn’t spent a fair few days in the company of just themselves: there were about eight people taking photos of the abbey. I glanced at it. Nice abbey. And moved onto to trying to find somewhere to stay. My plan: find somewhere to stay and then go and look at the abbey. My first couple of attempts were futile—although a very sweet lady gave me instructions to her house should no bed be available in town. I had coffee. And then tried again. Tintern is a one street town basically. One house fits between river, road and mountain side. I popped into a few places and they sent me on and on out of town. I was beginning to think it was pay-back for adding five hundred meters to the day’s mileage calculation to account for an amount of faffing that I felt needed to be adjusted for, but was beginning to think the Gods did not agree. The sweet lady had suggested that I go to tourist information which handily is eight hundred meters past the last house in town at the Old Tintern Station. After the last quote for a single room with breakfast that I don’t like for fifty-three quid, I went to tourist info. One the way in I noticed a tent. They ended up having a camping ‘field’ for three pound ten. It was slanty, but cheap. There was no shower, just a key to the disabled loo at the cafe. I laid down the bivvy bag. The other tenter was not overly chatty so I wasn’t either. He was in bed when I came back and gone when I got up so don’t know what his story was except that he had been there before.
I took myself back to the edge of town and then to the extreme other end of town to the abbey. It was closed by this time but you are still able to peek in and through and around at it. And then I went to the pub for a lemon-lime and bitters (which the guy at the pub yesterday had never heard of—eh?), sat in the garden and sewed sequins and watched the sun change colours on the ruined church’s walls. It was quite lovely. I took my sequins half-way home to another pub for dinner. It was a lovely pork tenderloin with new potatoes and a fabulously gi-normous plate of fresh veggies. A couple were meeting for a date on a table next door. He’d brought flowers. It must be so hard when it’s a little place—when he popped in for drinks, the waiting staff was trying to get the goss from the girl about what the story was. As they walked off together they were doing the bumping into each other walk of the soon to be lip-locked.
Slept okay except for the feeling of lying on a cliff edge and the occasional need to crawl back up the hill to the roll mat. Tonight was the start of the dizzies though. Every time I turned over I got the feeling that the whole world was spinning. Now I know that the whole world is spinning, but we don’t normally feel it do we; we’re not supposed to feel it at least. And it spins fast. I was worrying because the last time this happened I was vomiting and having to lie very still on the couch and not go to work. This didn’t blow up to the same extent—but more of that tomorrow. For the moment, it was:
Good night to Tintern, good night to you.