Sat 16 April
18 miles (ish)
Early wintery showers then brightening to sunny periods.
It was raining again as we awoke this morning but unlike yesterday we didn't have a short day ahead and thus weren't at leisure to have a lie-in. That was a shame, particularly in view of the quartet of ignorami, resident in two nearby motorhomes on the campsite, who returned from the pub at gone midnight and decided to stand outside our tent to conduct a loud and lengthy final conversation of the night. When one of them took a phone call we could even hear the person on the other end. They didn't take our hints (i.e. loud responses to parts of their conversations), and no convenient heavy shower passed through at that point to force them indoors, so it was a while before they went in to commence moving furniture (or so it sounded). It was gone 2.30 by the time I got to sleep, although on the plus side I did get to listen to quite a big chunk of my current audio book.
It was raining quite heavily by the time I left the tent to go to the toilet block this morning. It was snowing quite heavily by the time I returned and it was with frequent showers of sleet and snow that we spent the first part of the morning. It was quite a sociable morning too as we passed the time of day with one southbound section hiker, two north bound section hikers and one Swiss chap doing the whole route over the course of two months, taking every opportunity to visit towns and tourist attractions on the way. Then there was the lady farmer with whom Mick had one of the best quality conversations about the weather I've heard for ages (when she deigned to reply to his initial comment about the sunshine; at first she just stared at him before going into rant mode about how crap (her word!) the weather's been this year and the impact on her sheep).
The most notable thing about the rest of the way to Pandy, which was largely across enclosed farmland, was how little of it we recognised. One bench in a clearing in the forest, an orchard and White Castle were familiar. Of the other 99% of the way neither of us had any recollection at all.
Within the grounds of White Castle was where we had lunch (and chatted to a couple of cyclists who popped by to say hello as one of them has also backpacked the Path). Nice and warm in the sunshine, it gave my feet and socks the chance to dry out after another muddy, waterlogged morning (we kept our overtrousers on and sported solid mud almost to the knees and spatters right up to hip level).
Our arrival at the Old Pandy Inn, at about 3.15pm, was ill-timed, as it had been our intention to kill some time and eat there before continuing on to camp. All looked promising as a couple were just tucking into freshly served meals as we arrived, but alas, it transpired that the cook had just knocked off for the afternoon and that evening service didn't start until quarter to seven, which was a bit late for our purposes. So we pouted and the Landlord came up trumps, rustling up a huge bowl of chips for us.
A couple of hours later, very well hydrated, we set back out and nearly made it up on to the ridge before deciding that with the cold wind and forecast subzero temperature we might be better in a more sheltered spot. Backtracking by a few minutes we found a pich relatively well hidden down in a dip (which would make it a dreadful choice if rain was forecast). It's not the most level pitch we've ever had, but nor is it the worst.