Step Count: 22,468
Distance: 6.93 miles
Max Altitude: 344 m
Min Altitude: 67 m
Height Gain: 372 m
Height Loss: 211 m
After days of frustrating rest, I couldn’t wait to get back out on the trail again. My intention was to take it easy, see how the feet and legs felt and not put pressure on myself.
Before I left lovely Hay, I had a quick coffee while I checked the forecast. 30% chance of light showers. Excellent! Off I went on the Offa’s Dyke Path.
The trail took me over the Wye, which looked swollen and fierce after days of rain.
The next kilometre or so led me on a path next to the river before reaching a crop field.
Take a good look at that last photo because that was the last I saw of a dry sky for the rest of the day. A few moments after I took that picture, the heavens opened and it stayed like that for the remainder of my walk.
What was that about 30% chance of light showers? How about a 100% chance of thick driving rain instead? It proved, if nothing else, that the weather forecast in this part of the world belongs in the ‘comedy fiction’ section of your local bookshop.
I struggled to get my waterproofs on speedily. I may as well not have bothered with my ‘waterproof’ coat though. It didn’t take long for my Rab Fuse jacket to give way until my top half was drenched (I have complained to Rab and asked for a refund so more on that in another post, I’m sure). My shoes let in so much rain that I felt I was walking with two buckets of water on my feet. My Berghaus trousers performed admirably though, which is something.
I carried on walking through fields, following the waymarks as best I could from underneath my hood. I took a left turn. Uh-oh….a field of livestock….of the bovine type….with horns, big horns. There was no way I was risking it, just no way. I turned back, my feet squelching. I climbed over into a different field and started walking despite the warnings not to.
Mercifully, I had circumnavigated the livestock. However, where I had landed looked to be a pasture saturated with cow urine and diarrhoea and I was up to my ankles in it.
Perfect! After trudging carefully so as not to sink any further into the foul gloop, I stepped into a field of potatoes, which was altogether a nicer experience, I can tell you.
I just needed to get to Newchurch, that was all. But there was another 5.5 miles to go. I didn’t want to think about the state of my wet feet inside my wet shoes so I put some music on to distract me. From then on I sloshed from muddy field to muddy field under dark rainy skies. I even took my jacket off after a while. I mean, what was the point?
And finally after hours of footslogging with a cup full of water in my shoes, I spotted the most wonderful sight on the horizon – a spire! The church at Newchurch was calling to me like a choir of angels! But wait…why would I – a non-believer – be excited at the prospect of going to church? Well, simply because I knew that St Mary’s in the village is open all day long to weary (and soaking wet) travellers like myself. For a donation you can help yourself to teas, coffees, biscuits and cake. And more importantly on a day like today, shelter from the elements.
I swear to you, reader, that I’ve never been so happy to see a religious establishment in my entire life. It was magical! I almost cried with happiness. I dried myself off as best I could and wrung out my socks while the kettle boiled. I made a hefty donation and signed the church book with a shaky hand. I examined my kit (not great). I examined my feet (even worse).
Hiking can be so glamorous.