Day Ten, Sunday, 6th May 2012

Julia about to cross the River Lugg and get the day's walking underway!
Julia about to cross the River Lugg and get the day’s walking underway!

The day promised to be bright and clear once again. Oh for the luxury of a rucksack full of clean clothes! After breakfast, we took a taxi back to Dolley Green to rejoin ODP south. The taxi driver continued on to Gladestry with the larger of our rucksacks (the one with the wonderfully laundered clothes); we kept the small bag which now included a Thermos full of hot water and a teaspoon purloined from The Old Radnorshire Arms Hotel. Coffee breaks were now part of our plans even if there was a dearth of refreshments en-route.

We started by crossing the fields to Discoed, encountering the swollen, fast-flowing Lugg (alas, no longer forming the border – we were now a few hundred metres into Wales) and the first, and only, hostile stiles on ODP. The weather for a second day in succession was bright if cool.
A disincentive for the older rambler. 5 horizontal bars; metal wire mesh. and the pernicious barbed-wire under the top rail! The farmer presumably is breeding the legendary Superwelshlamb - it can squeeze through a five inch gap and leap over 4 foot!
A stile near Dolley Green – a disincentive for the older rambler. 5 horizontal bars, metal wire mesh. and the pernicious barbed-wire under the top rail! The farmer presumably was breeding the legendary Superwelshlamb – it can squeeze through a five inch gap and leap over 4 feet!
We were once again following The Dyke with some determination, but the terrain, although undulating, was not hard work. We stopped  for our coffee break on The Dyke where its crest is wooded just north of Old Burfa farm house. Despite the wonderful views from our chosen place of repose, we soon continued south, stopping to chat with a couple who were approaching the end of their Demi-Dyke from Chepstow to Knighton.

We descended through woodland to a pastured valley. We had been lulled into a pleasant complacency, before the long climb up to Herrock Hill and then Rushock Hill, the wooded terrain opening on to moorland. The subsequent gradual descent towards Kington was across pasture where the way-marking was sparse, so the GPS got another airing.

Chaenomeles (flowering quince) growing in the wild
Chaenomeles (flowering quince) growing in the wild

It safely shepherded us to the next feature of human endeavour – another golf course. This one, Kington Golf Course, has the distinction of being the highest in England, but it looks depressingly just like the others.

The same cannot be said of Kington, another handsome small town, seemingly unblemished by by-pass or big supermarket. To give it credit, ODP did us the service of leading us to the doors of The Swan, a hostelry in full swing hosting a Bank Holiday beer festival. We ate our unfussy but delicious paninis to the strains of live jazz, the band shoe-horned into a corner of the bar.

Replenished, we meandered through the town purchasing water and Sunday paper. Our route took us past St. Mary’s church in which, unfortunately, a christening was taking place. Julia and I fancied a peep inside if only to pay our respects to an effigy of Ellen The Terrible, the good lady apparently earning the epithet through her awful cooking. Ah well; one day we’ll return; Kington certainly warrants a second look.

On Hergest Ridge
On Hergest Ridge
As we left Kington, drizzle was in the air, but as we made the steady climb onto Hergest Ridge, the skies cleared and we were granted excellent views; Wales to the right and England to the left. I vaguely remember that Mike Oldfield made an album named after the ridge; it was the follow-up to the hugely successful Tubular Bells. It did not fare well. So, no Mike Oldfield Heritage Centre; not even an ice cream van. Just a handful of Sunday strollers…..and the sheep……and the ponies. Near the summit, rather incongruously, there is a clump of monkey puzzle trees.
Ponies on Hergest Ridge
Ponies on Hergest Ridge

Descending from Hergest, The Dyke happens upon the pretty hamlet of Gladestry, tucked into a dell. It still boasts a village school, church and public house, which was just as well, as we had booked in to stay at The Royal Oak. The pub was quiet and we were the only people staying for the night. This was fortuitous as the tiny communal shower-room would have struggled to cope with four or more guests. Brian was an interesting host having worked in nuclear engineering. The end of the cold war had reduced the need for his specialised abilities, and his path had brought him to this beautiful but isolated spot. His wife, Sharron, produced a Sunday roast of immense quality; the vegetables were outstanding, she modestly attributed this to the fact that they were all local and fresh. We had walked and eaten well today and we climbed up the stairs from the deserted bar wondering how on earth one can eek out a living running a rural pub or shop in the present economic climate. We were fast asleep by nine-thirty; the Royal Oak could have been buzzing by ten, and we would have been none the wiser.

End of the day - The Royal Oak at Gladestry
End of the day – The Royal Oak at Gladestry
18 stiles
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