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]

Monday 12 May 2008

Day 28 - Welshpool to Nantmawr

To start today's post, a few words must be said about Hafren House B&B in Welshpool. It is owned by Alan and Mary, who took possession of it at the end of last September. In the space of six months they not only worked wonders on the run-down property, so that they could open it as a B&B, but they did that work remarkably sympathetically for the style and age of the property.

Our room was pleasing indeed, but to top that this is an establishment that caters well for walkers. They have a drying room in the cellar, they have trays in the rooms for muddy boots to sit upon, they serve a very fine breakfast indeed, but perhaps best of all for a walker, they serve that breakfast from 7am. If you find yourself in Welshpool in need of a bed for the night, this is a place that I would recommend.

We'd breakfasted well, to set us up for the day, had settled up our bill and were just heading for the door when Mary saw the promotional panel on the back of my backpack. Seeing that we are walking to raise money for Macmillan, she promptly returned to me £20 of the money I'd just given her, to be added to our fundraising total.

Within three minutes of leaving the B&B, under clear blue skies, with far less of a haze than previous days (purely to spite us as this was to be a lower level day), we were on the Montgomery Canal, which in due course also becomes the route of the ODP.

The ODP, a while later, leaves the canal instead to follow the river. However, we opted instead to stay on the canal. It's not that I can do a comparison, but I felt that it was a good choice.

This is not a canal that is in use. A particular issue for boats bigger than a canoe is that at many of the road crossing points the canal ends and then recommences the other side. That lack of use seemed to have a positive effect on the wild-life as there were swans (with cygnets), moorhens (or are they coots? again with young), ducks and herons a-plenty.

Despite being the route of the Severn Way, the tow path is also apparently not in regular use. Once away from the edge of Welshpool there was no longer a dirt path. It was uneven grass, which made the walking all the more interesting. Even better, the tow path was meddow-esque in its variety of wild flowers. Once again I kicked myself for not being more familiar with our flaura and fauna.

Llanymynech was to be our end point for today. The problem was that it doesn't have a pub that opens at lunchtime (or at least not as far as we could see and not as far as the person in the Post Office could tell us), and my friend, who was picking us up to give us a bed for the night, wasn't able to get to us for another hour and a half.

The happy option for us was to make tomorrow shorter by continuing to walk north.

We made it as far as Nantmawr, which gave us the benefit of popping up and around Llanymynech Hill*. It had the double bonus of giving us the views that we thought we would miss on our low-level day as well as meaning that we didn't have to start tomorrow with its killer ascent (hmmm, thinking about it, we have a different hill to start tomorrow).

I'm now sitting at the house of Jo and Mark who have very kindly fed and watered us, given us use of their washing machine and who are giving us a bed for the night, before returning us to Nantmawr in the morning. A big thank you goes out to them. We're feeling quite spoiled of late with all of these beds and hospitality.

We've decided that we're not going to compress the next few days into fewer days. We're just not in a rush (even though I don't know what I was thinking when I put such a succession of short days in; perhaps I just wasn't thinking?), so tomorrow is going to be another short day as we amble up to Bronygarth.

(*Another note for The Bandits: Llanymynech Golf Course. It's another one that's on top of a hill and it looked in good condition, particularly the greens. We came upon it at the fourteenth tee, where Mick tried to put his Pacerpole to dual use by using it as a golf club; alas, he soon realised that he had no balls :-). Photo will follow.)


  1. It was such a pleasure to meet Mick and Gayle on their mammoth walk and we will be eagerly logging onto this blog for the next couple of months or so to keep up with them. Well done guys, you are incredible.
    Allan and Mary Hafren House

  2. The Bandits will be sure to review all suggestions for future rounds of golf, on condition we can learn how to pronounce their names first!! GT