Day Six: Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012 – Carreg-y-Big to Four Crosses

Good start to the day with a hearty breakfast. The mushrooms with the full breakfast were worthy of special mention; the secret, apparently, was to add a dash of Worcester Sauce whilst frying!

The weather forecast seemed to promise a dry and clear day, continuing our pattern of one beastly day followed by a better one.

We climbed a lane up Baker’s Hill and onto the common, the site of the old Oswestry Racecourse.

The old grandstand at Oswestry Racecourse
The old grandstand at Oswestry Racecourse

We continued by following The Dyke through woodland down to the pretty hamlet of Ty’n-y-Coed and on to the more substantial settlement of Trefonen. Indeed this settlement had a post office/stores which was open! Our first village shop. We stocked up with bottled water and other provisions. The proprietor, referring to newspaper headlines on his counter, bemoaned the fate of the National Health Service. We concurred with his worries and continued south.

ODP lead us up to the top of Moelydd (285m), before descending through the curiously named Jones’ Rough Nature Reserve, which proved to be prettier than it sounds. The descent continued to another Hamlet, Nant-Mawr where I slipped on wet pasture. I landed comfortably upon my bottom, but got muddied in the process. This proved to be the only spill of the whole adventure; not a bad tally for 170 miles of walking.
Old Railway Track near Porth-y-Waen
Old Railway Track near Porth-y-Waen

There is very little walking on the flat on ODP, and as if to prove the point, we climbed up Llanmynech Hill. In the muddy conditions, this proved to be hard work, and it was a little disappointing to find that our exertion had lead us to the periphery of a golf course. The utter tedium of skirting the manicured fairways and greens was relieved by discovering wild orchids growing in the woodland. Descending the hill through a nature reserve and disused quarry, we lost our way and emerged, by mistake, on the busy A483. We started walking in the wrong direction, away from Llanmynech itself. We were climbing once again into open country, which seemed incongruous, as we knew we were only a few hundred yards from the village. We therefore turned through 180 degrees, and thankfully found Llanmynech, and hopefully a late lunch.

Llanmynech Rocks
Llanmynech Rocks
We think this is a slow worm, spotted on our descent into Llanmynech
We think this is a slow worm, spotted on our descent into Llanmynech
It was 4 o’clock by now, and our first port of call, The Dolphin Inn was not serving food. So, after a swift half, we crossed the road to The Village Pantry, a friendly little café run by a young couple. Both parents were hard at work despite the fact that their first born had arrived just five days beforehand! Owen Rhys proved to be the centre of attention; in fact we got the impression that most customers in the café had come along primarily to see the new arrival.

We savoured the next three mile stretch, following the Montgomery canal to our next stopover in Four Crosses. No ascents; no descents. This stretch of canal is not navigable, Mother Nature having taken over to good effect. The sun had shone all day, and we enjoyed this easy walking at the end of the day.

Aqueduct carrying the Montgomery Canal over The River Vyrnwy
Aqueduct carrying the Montgomery Canal over The River Vyrnwy
Both Four Crosses and its hotel, The Golden Lion, seemed deserted. The busy A483 had been re-routed to bypass it. The hotel seemed to be a little dark and foreboding, but our room was bright and comfortable. We were the only guests staying for the night, but the lady of the house produced excellent food and drink for us. (spaghetti Bolgnese; chicken tikka masala; Argentinian Malbec). The highlight was a ginger cake with a sauce in which you could taste the little nuggets of stem ginger. Marvellous! I wondered out loud how they made a living in this backwater – apparently they are busy at weekends with walkers, they organise music evenings, and the gentleman of the house gives guitar lessons.
Stile count for the day: 26.
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