Wed 20 April
Last night I read my blog post from 2008 describing our walk from Knighton (where we left yesterday afternoon) to Mellington Hall (where we passed mid-morning today). It confirmed the section as being the lumpiest on ODP and I'd remarked that the steepest ascents were saved for the end of that stage. I did wonder, as I read those words, whether the ascents really were steeper, or if it was just our perception of them at the end of a very lumpy day. I have now been reminded that, yep, they are steep indeed.
The worst thing about these ascents is that you don't get rewarded for the effort by a nice high-level walk at the top. No sooner have you finished climbing than it's a knee-killer of a descent, ready for the next climb.
Given their steepness, and that it was a glorious day that soon started warming up nicely, we wondered how a southbound chap we met was managing to walk wearing a jacket and balaclava. He showed no signs of glowing as we passed the time of day, whilst I'm sure Mick and I were glistening at the very least.
Finally, we got to the top of a climb and below us we could see Mellington Hall and, way further in the distance, Welshpool, with much flatness between them.
And thus we found ourselves in rather nondescript farmland again - the penalty for wanting flatness - although there was one final short sharp shock towards the end of the day.
As part of the logistics planning for this walk, I'd struggled to come up with somewhere to send a resupply parcel. Eventually, the day before we left home, I concluded that the best option was to commit to making the detour to a campsite just outside of Welshpool and sending it there. My original plan for that detour was a little circuitous and involved a walk along a B road, but this morning I noticed an alternative: by leaving ODP sooner (at Forden) we could take to some footpaths along the Severn, keeping us off-road.
We did have slight misgivings (not about missing a bit of ODP - we've walked this bit before) but about how viable the paths would be, given our experience on Powys footpaths a couple of days ago when we tried (and failed) to cut a corner at Gladestry.
The first section of path went well; indeed, it was well marked. Of the next section we could find no trace at all, not even an access point (not even with the assistance of digital mapping). A longer route was taken and through a farmyard we went, assisted not one jot by any signage whatsoever, not to mention the locked gate we had to climb (and we must have been on the right line at that point as there was no other possible option).
We'd just shaken off some overly inquisitive cows who staged a hot pursuit of our progress across their field when we got to firm evidence of the RoW in the shape of a very official-looking stile, sporting a very official looking closure notice. The next section was, apparently closed for safety reasons, until such time as a solution could be found (no detail was given as to the issue requiring a solution). Further inspection gave the date of the temporary order as 25 August 2010. Hmmm, more evidence as to how seriously Powys takes its responsibilities as to RoWs?
Obviously, we ignored the notice and proceeded with fingers crossed that whatever the closure-causing-issue had been, it wouldn't stop us getting through (the path being squeezed between river and railway, we feared that it had washed away). Happily we popped out at the other end with no problem at all. There was no closure notice at that end - nor any evidence that anyone ever goes that way.
The faff with the footpaths took an unreasonably long time (as unpleasant as the road would have been, it would have been the easier and quicker option) but we did finally reach the campsite where we're pretty sure we've been undercharged (£5 for 2 people on an 'all facilities' campsite?!) even though we questioned the price and offered more.
So now we lie here in the tent with the Severn a stone's throw in front of us, and with the sun streaming in to the front of the tent.