|Home||Pennine Way||West Highland Way||Pembrokeshire Coast||Southern Upland Way||Cambrian Way|
We pack up, walk back to the filling station and buy lemonade as we can see nowhere to pick up water along the way. The path out of Pontypool is very overgrown and steep and then turns into a banked path with overhanging trees. It is straightforward from here to the Pontypool Folly where we have a drinks break on the shady side. The view back from the folly is excellent. I try not to drink all my lemonade.
It is extremely hot now and even the sheep are looking for shade. From the folly the way is rather vague and we are relieved to find the farm gate and ruin marked on the map.
We have to cross the moor and hit a line of trees where a path descends to the Goose & Cuckoo. After taking a GPS reading and a compass bearing, we head off, optimistically, along a farm vehicle track but this soon peters out.
There is no shade whatsoever. It is too hot to walk and we decide to have lunch. We find it is too uncomfortable to sit as well! I finish the lemonade.
We descend to the Goose & Cuckoo through trees and shade which is very welcome after the open moor. We arrive at about 4.00 pm. It has been a long five miles.
I seem to have acquired several gnat bites.
We go straight into the Goose & Cuckoo and down a pint of orange and lemonade in one go. It is a very vibrant pub. A couple at the bar are discussing “trouble” at the Star last night. Something to do with a ferret in a dog basket!
We talk to the landlord who says he was walking the Cambrian Way when he saw this pub and later bought it. He is hoping to put in a bunk house. We can put our tent up on a piece of grass by the car park. We do this and return to the pub for a meal. The food is excellent, truly home-made right down to the “Murphy’s” ice cream.
Another hot day forecast tomorrow of 28-30C. We decide to take a “bad weather” day off. We mention this to the landlord when paying for the meal. He says, “You’ll be needing shopping then, the pub is shut on Mondays but my wife can cook for you if you like”. I refuse to let his wife cook for us on her day off especially as he has “volunteered” her for it. He says, “Don’t worry, I’ll arrange something”.
We have another pint and a whiskey and as we are leaving the landlord points to a couple in the corner, “They will take you into Abergavenny tomorrow at 9.00 am. I will pick you up at 3.00 pm when I go to the bank. You can spend the day sightseeing and stock up. Give me your phone and I’ll recharge it”.
Surely, this is service up and beyond the call of duty!
We sit in the sun on the bank opposite the pub to wait for our lift. The landlady comes out to talk to us and I compliment her on her cooking. Apparently, she bakes all her own bread too and, as it is her day off today, she is going to do the gardening!
Our lift arrives. They are staying at the pub and there is a lot of confusion as to where car keys, sun hat, camera etc. are but we are soon off down a very narrow lane toward Abergavenny. Apparently, the couple were here last Christmas when this lane was covered in snow and a very different proposition. I just hope we do not meet anything coming in the other direction as I can’t seem to see any passing places as we hurtle down the hill. They drop us off at the roundabout just outside Abergavenny.
It is stifling already in town. We pass a supermarket so decide we needn't buy anything for tomorrow as we will be passing this way. The landlord at the pub says he will be stopping at another supermarket on the way home so we have no need to carry food around for tonight either. We do find an outdoor shop, though, and Charl buys a new hiking pole and I buy a windstop. This weather can't last, surely
We sit outside a continental style café and have a very large mug of tea. At the table next to us someone is relating a story. He says that yesterday he saw four Germans come off the hill with backpacks. They looked absolutely shattered. He asked them how far they had walked. They said four miles. So, we were not the only ones who didn’t manage many miles in the heat yesterday.
We buy some pasties, sit on a wall to eat them and then take a stroll down to Linda Vista Park. We sit under the trees. Every one is wandering around like zombies and every available shade is taken. We can see Blorenge, the hill we will be coming over into Abergavenny tomorrow.
We wander back into town at around 2.00pm, have a coffee at the same café and then
wait for the landlord of the pub at the bank. We stop off for some shopping and are
soon back at the Goose & Cuckoo. We sit by the wall and have Danish pastries and even more tea in the little shade that there is. We took the opportunity of buying a slap up dinner at the supermarket as we did not have to carry it home or fit it into a rucksack. We have lamb cutlets, a green salad and potato salad followed by peach fromage frais and fresh fruit salad. I seem to be getting obsessed with food.
The landlord comes over to say goodbye to us before he goes out in the evening. He
knows we will be off early in the morning.
The path over the moor is peaty and stony. I would‘nt like to be here in the wet but today it is really good going. We soon reach the road and the car park where there is a memorial, which marks the grave of the famous show jumper “Foxhunter”. We stop here for a cup of tea. It is still quite cool but we are certainly not complaining. My forehead itches. I run my hand along it. I have a line of blisters all along the hairline and as I run my hand along it they all bust! I must have left my sunhat off yesterday! While having our tea break, we watch a man training a gun dog. He has a dummy and keeps throwing it for the dog to retrieve. A rather large, very tanned and heavily made up woman, jogs by. She looks somewhat incongruous in this setting.
We set off toward the summit of Blorenge, still watching the man and the dog, which is fascinating, and because of this march off on a red herring of a track through the heather. We soon realise our mistake and retrace out steps.There is a gentle rise to the summit and once there, it is quite cold. We duck behind the stones and brew up.
As we walk along the plateau, in order to descend the other side, the sun begins to break through the mist. Mysteriously, the terrain changes too, from peat and heather to close cropped grass. The views from the other side and down into Abergavenny are really breathtaking and once on the descent I do believe it is nearly as hot as yesterday.
The descent is not quite as easy as it looks. After starting on a good path, we go down through bracken. This peters out and we are obviously following a sheep trail. We can see where we need to be so carry on through the bracken but it is very steep and hard work. At the bottom I have jelly legs.
I sit for a moment, thinking the worst is over, but no there is more descent through woods by a stream. This would be easy at any other time but with wobbly legs it is very slow going. Gradually, the incline and also my legs improve.
We arrive in Abergavenny, and after crossing the Usk, go to the Post Office to send back our first map. We pick up provisions in the supermarket as planned. Charl suggests we call a taxi to take us to the campsite as then we can buy what we want for dinner tonight without worrying about weight. I also have to buy enough food to last us three days.
We ring a taxi service from the supermarket but they say they are booked. We look for another phone box hoping there will be another taxi number. I ask someone in the precinct and another two people stop all with various suggestions - phone in the pub, phone end of the street, taxi rank by bus station. We think the latter is the best option but can’t find any sign of a taxi around the bus station. I ask someone waiting for a bus and the taxi rank is right beside us! It is just a car in a garage!
Although the campsite is only about 2 miles away, the guy seems to have no idea where it is. He asks someone who says it is up the hill. We show them the map. It is plain that it is not up the hill. However, they seem to know best. We go up the hill ........ and down again and finally to the campsite at Psygodlin. I’m pleased we established the fare first!
As we have made a detour to the campsite, we decide not to walk all the way back to the original path but to ascend Sugar Loaf from another direction opposite the campsite. We go up the road and then steeply up the lane where we went in the taxi yesterday. I look out for adders as the taxi driver, who lives on the opposite hill, said he has seen two along this lane recently. We try to find the path off with no success. We begin on many that just peter out to nothing. We keep consulting the map and lose a lot of time.
We come to a barbed wire fence and a very awkward style. I decide it will be easier, after several attempts, to take off my rucksack. As I do this two whippets appear. They seem to be taking themselves for a walk. One jumps over with no trouble the other one is not so sure, and like me, after a great deal of toing and froing, makes a real pig’s ear of it. The other dog has been waiting patiently at the top of a rise.
We decide to have lunch. We can only have two slices of bread each as I am rationing it. We think we are on the correct path now. We decide if this also comes to a dead end we will make a circular walk of it, return to the campsite, catch a bus into Abergavenny and follow the route in the guide book.
We follow the path up and yes, I think I spot a car on the brow. There is the small area for cars at LLanwenarth where we pick up the recommended route. Unfortunately, with all the false starts and map consultations, it is now 2.00 pm!
It is sunny in the valley but pretty grim and drizzly here. It is an easy plod up the flanks of Sugar Loaf and it only gets steeper well toward the summit. Here it is very cold and extremely windy.
We drop down on the leeward side and have a smoke break. There is a good view despite the weather.
The way down is clear. Very near the bottom we realise that, with all the time lost today, we are not going to reach Capel y Ffin, our planned destination. We decide, if we find a suitable place, that we will camp for the night. We find a flattish place to put up the tent and Charl goes off, through the bracken, in search of water. He seems pretty confident but I am not so sure. I sit on my pack and he disappears, a bottle in each hand. I seem to be sitting for a long while. I get up and scan the bracken. What if he became disoriented and is wandering in the bracken? I try to find some high ground to make myself conspicuous but there is no way he is going to see me. I sit down again. It seems ages before he appears again with a big grin and two bottles of water. I am so pleased to see him, I jump up and give him a hug. He looks at me in amazement!
I hear another bird, the same as last night. It wasn’t Charl snoring, then.
We put up the tent. We could have walked further. but then would have been in the valley with not much opportunity of a camping spot. We have a meal of sausage and bolognese sauce. As we do not have enough water to cook pasta, I risk allotting two slices of bread each and hope we can get some more at The Grange tomorrow in Capel y Ffin.