Thurs 21 April
Mainly very hazy sunshine
We don't have a good track record of sticking religiously to the route of defined long distance trails, so it should be no surprise that we started this morning not by returning to ODP, but by deviating even further.
Heading down the road to pick up the Montgomery Canal, to take us through Welshpool and out the other side, to reconnect with ODP at Pool Quay, did add a little distance but had a number of other benefits. The main ones were: 1) it avoided the need for us to use Powys's appallingly maintained footpath network across fields to rejoin ODP at the nearest point (one of the paths we needed ran right through the campsite; I found no obvious trace of it); and 2) it would take us right past a big supermarket.
Even though we'd not long been walking, second breakfast was declared in Morrison's cafe and I discovered that the way to an efficient resupply shop* is to order a cooked breakfast, and to have a cup of tea poured and waiting, before you go shopping. I reckon I broke my all-time resupply speed record by a factor of 3.
The Montgomery Canal is a changed place from last time we walked along it when, outside Welshpool the towpath became wild and lumpy with long grasses and wildflowers galore. It now has an engineered path, which wasn't too offensive for walking and which sped us along.
The problem with speed today was that the owner of Bankside B&B, in whose garden we're camping tonight, had requested for us not to arrive before 4, as he would be out. Fortunately, the day was a nice one for time wasting, so not long after we left the canal to take to the top of the River Severn's flood-defence mound (that being the route of ODP), a lengthy elevenses break was had (unusually, actually at 11am).
It was the first of a series of poorly timed breaks today, as not long later we happened across a picnic bench outside someone's house on which sat an honesty box and a tub of slices of various homemade cakes. We bought some for after lunch but resisted another stop.
Lunch was had in an uninspiring spot adjacent to the road in Four Crosses, chosen because there was a bench there, but not long later (just after an underpass bearing such an interesting exhibit on its walls that it took us an unusually long time to get to the other side of the road) we rejoined the canal, where a bench sat in a much more pleasing position, if only we'd waited a bit longer for lunch. (Incidentally, we could have followed the canal the whole way from Welshpool, but we'd done that before, hence today we opted to stick to ODP as it veered off to follow the Severn.)
The next break was spent perched on a fallen gatepost alongside the canal, with cold pop and an ice cream apiece from Llanymynech village store. Of course, there turned out to be a picnic bench 50 yards further on.
Leaving Llanymynech the day ended with a shock to the system: after a combination of canals and the level top of a flood defence, involving almost no change in altitude, suddenly we had a steep 400' climb over a pleasant little hill whose top houses a golf course.
On the other side lay our night stop (where we arrived with perfect timing just a few minutes after 4pm) and we were greeted by an offer of tea and biscuits, which were duly delivered to the tent :-). The B&B has BT internet too, which just about reaches to the tent, so I'll be able to post this blog tonight via the public hotpot, rather than having to loiter outside someone's house as we're passing tomorrow.
(*Yes, I know we only received a resupply parcel yesterday, but our parcels only contain evening meals. All other meals and snacks are bought as we go along.)