Fri 22 April
17.5 miles (3800' ascent)
Heavily overcast start, clearing to surprise us with sunny intervals this afternoon.
ODP is not an easy stroll in the park, but beyond the physical effort of the constant undulations we're finding the biggest issue is a mental one. In our opinion it is quite hard to huff and puff up 450', at quite a gradient, only then immediately to descend again, reaching the bottom of a valley only to ascend again. There was a bit of that again today, although we did have the treat of the section across Oswestry Old Racecourse Common, where the route stays up high for a good length of time, in very pleasant surroundings.
I'm not sure why ODP doesn't visit Llangollen, or at least have an optional route which does, as it seems to me that National Trails often make a special effort to detour to nearby towns or villages which offer amenities. Given the lack of shops and eating places directly on the northern end of ODP, Llangollen seems an obvious place to visit.
Having considered resupplying for the whole of the rest of the Path whilst in Welshpool, the decision made was that we would rather detour into Llangollen than carry that much food (I'd swear Mick's been slipping rocks into my pack as it is; I can do without extra food weight at the moment!).
The various options for getting to Llangollen were considered and the route selected saw us leave ODP just after Chirk Castle to lop off a corner (although that lopping did incidentally involve going up and over a hill rather than around the side of it). It was a lopping decision which was made easier by the fact that we've previously spent a couple of weekends in this town, and thus have walked before most of the bit of route that we have bypassed.
Having decided to come here the question then was where to stay. The thought of a campsite on a Friday night wasn't filling me with enthusiasm, so at lunchtime I greatly annoyed a dog in a kennel as I stood outside of its owner's house to use their BT hotspot (look Louise, I caught the autocorrect today! It was driving me mad last night with some of the things it was changing). Five minutes later a bonus, unscheduled B&B was booked.
We still had four miles to walk to get there and surprisingly, the highlight of the day came not on ODP but on that 'corner lopping' section, which boasted some fantastic views over the Vale of Llangollen. Worth that extra ascent, I declared.
The downside of picking a B&B at random and without any research was demonstrated when we arrived. It's certainly far from the best we've ever stayed in. I can live with dated (at an appropriate price) and I can live with a bit of dust around the edges of carpets and the like, but this room is seriously in need of a good clean. Oh, and the radiator valve is stuck partially on, combined with windows that don't open...
At least the shower is good.
As the B&B's advertised 'evening meals served every night' turned out not to include tonight, we went out and picked an eating place based on it being the first place we passed. That selection went well, as one of the photos above should show. Dee Corner is an eatery which doesn't skimp on serving quantities.