Friday was going to be a long day, that was obvious by just studying the map. Needing to be away early, I was up, fed and watered, washed and packing up by just after seven. As I was taking the tent down the putter of a small tractor was drawing ever closer. A farmer was bringing cattle up the nearby track on to the rough pasture. Mentally I braced myself for a ticking off but the guy just glanced in my direction and drove off. It was obvious I was moving on. By around seven thirty I was on the move. A fine dry morning with a bit of chill to it and overcast.
A steady descent down toward Dolley Green. A meander through pleasant meadows and then it was uphill once more. Short and fairly steep. Good walking brought me around to Lower Harpton. A surreptitious use of a farmhose pipe to top up on water. Risky maybe, I had no idea where the water came from? Once again the way ahead was up. A stop for a snack and drink and then a slow steady plod. Some folk going up hills can put their heads down and just keep going. Some though need to stop for a moment or two, catch there breath and then continue. Yes, I am one of the latter, annoying?
To be honest, it was lovely walking, views spread out way below and away to the far distance. The day had warmed up and there long sunny spells Just as one thinks they have reached the top of the hill the path veers left and heads up once more. The rewards are more panoramic views and excellent walking. Once again there is a descent and here I made a mistake. The Dyke sign points directly toward the Bower. Hot and possibly a tad dehydrated, (that is my excuse anyway!) I came down close to the Bower, in hindsight I should have been further over. Dithering and being on the edge of my map I ended up taking a circuitous route round to Kington. This added a good couple of miles to my route. Nipping in to a shop in the town I bought a couple of bottles of soft drink. Sunk one immediately, dehydrated? Following a regular pattern now, it was steeply uphill once again.There was a frisson of anticipation here though. This time I was heading for the Hergest Ridge. This was one Mike and I had discussed and I was keen to see it. It is not often one can walk a high ridge complete with an abandoned race course and a stand of monkey puzzle trees!
It was an easy stroll around to Great Rhos trig point and then a gentle amble down the hill. Coming down the ridge I could see far, far down below in the narrow steep sided valley the glisten of water. My plan was to camp somewhere close to the bridleway. A wander over to Carrog Dingle, dry.Went higher to a ford marked on the map, nothing. Finally there was only one more option. A stream was marked in a narrow cleft of the hill. Knowing there was water way down on the valley bottom, I stowed the rucksack out of sight and headed down. A scramble down the narrow defile, loose shale and rocks making it a little more difficult. Eventually I reached the stream, cool, crystal clear water. A hard, sweaty scramble back up. That was hard but I had fresh water, luxury. Camped in a nice little spot, most comfy. What did surprise me though was the lack of people. My concern had been that I was camped close to a well used bridleway. All I saw where two guys who wandered over to say hello.
Monday, showers of rain passing through and low dark clouds scudding across the hills. No great rush though. It was an easy stroll down to Dolau and the station. A strip bath and a clean change of clothes and a leisurely packing up and I was on my way. Heading over toward Cefn-y-grug I noticed a quad bike busy rounding up a herd of suckler cows. A second quad was racing around higher up the field rounding up stragglers. The farmers wife drove over to warn me the cows would be heading down the track I was on and could be frisky. Standing to one side, I watched as the woman led the cows through the gate in to the lane. Some of the beasts where not having it though and made a break for freedom. They turned and raced towards me. In the best possible manner I jumped up and down, yelled at them, waved my trekking pole at them and ran around. The farmer raced across on his quad and helped turn them, gave me a thumbs up and raced off back up the hill. Heading down the hill a couple of cows decided to make another break for it. Giving them a gentle poke with the handle of my pole, they saw the error of their ways and joined the rest of the herd. The farmer came down to drive them on, giving me a big grin and a 'thank you' Best bit of fun I have had in a while!!
A gentle potter over to the station, a very clean, neat and tidy station. Pretty with big pots of flowers in bloom and a little waiting room. It has been a hard few days but this is really fine walking country. Rounded, whale-backed hills and great scenery.