The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 10 May 2008

Day 26 - Knighton to Mellington Hall

10 May
Distance: 13.5 miles
Number of Killer Hills: About 10

There was a light show in the night. About midnight there were bright flashes coming from all around us. It had us completely baffled for a while as to what it could be. We even went outside to look.

Eventually we decided that it was lightning even though there was no thunder to be heard. The storm must have been some way away.

A short while later faint rumblings were heard and it even thought about raining on us. Next thing I knew the alarm was going off, so I guess that it didn't disturb me too much.

Cheerily, the ODP guidebook starts the description of this part of the path by saying that it is the toughest part of the whole route. It goes on to say that if you are fit and have good weather then you will have a good day.

I would like to think, after 25 days walking, that I am approaching reasonably fit. We also had reasonable weather today despite a few raindrops falling on us first thing this morning. But it was certainly a mental challenge to go up a steep hill, only then immediately to go back down the other side, to then immediately be faced with the very next hill.

This bit of the country is not just rolling; it's violently rolling!

Despite the steepest climbs being saved until the end of the day, we made it through. Upon analysis, we also realised that neither of us had aching feet or legs and neither of us was overly tired, putting the 'oh no, not another hill' feelings of the day firmly into the 'psychological issues' category.

My goodness the day was warm for those climbs, though. Wearing my Smelly-Helly for the third consecutive day, and with me glowing in rivulets by half way up the first hill, the stench that I was emitting was making even me feel a little nauseated. I made sure to keep my distance from anyone else!

And there were other people today. In fact, we met more people than we have on any previous day on the ODP, including four other backpackers coming the other way.

I now sit in the sunshine (that at least had the decency to wait until the penultimate climb before breaking through), all clean after a shower and with my Smelly-Helly washed and drying in the heat of the late afternoon. In a while we're going to test the 'Walkers Welcome' claim of Mellington Hall as we turn up in our muddy walking gear for dinner.

Being a weekend, and being in a slightly more popular location, we have neighbours tonight (once again last night we were the only people on the campsite). They're Alan and Irene, who come from my home town and they've been so generous as to put £5 into our fundraising pot. That adds itself to the £5 donated by the Spar shop in Knighton yesterday afternoon, by the very nice and chatty man who served us.

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