Monday, 23 March 2015

Wales Border Backpack – Kerry Ridgeway and Other Places

frosty morning at pool hill
The Swansea train from Shrewsbury insinuates itself through Shropshire and into Powys just a few times each day and many of the stations are Very Small and you have to tell the guard that you want to get off. One such station is Llangullno also known as Llangynllno – a station apparently in the back yard of a couple of cottages with no sign apparent that there’s a station there and which is almost impossible for a Saxon to pronounce (actually, I think I’m probably more Anglian than Saxon, but we should let that pass as probably irrelevent.) (It’s the LL “thll” sound following a consonant thats hard by the way)
spaniel hiding from twat.
pool hill camp
And so me and JJ alighted and set off in the correct direction for Beacon Hill, being slightly distracted by some baldy brute out with his family beating up a small spaniel pup and the bagging of an intermediate Dewey, Pool Hill. This took just enough time to persuade us that five pm was late enough to set up a camp , which we did, just next to frog city, a small pool, which I suppose may have been the subject of the name of the heathery hill nearby.
A cold and frosty night followed, to the music  of many froglings ribbetting in the puddle. This stopped as the pond froze over.
sheep forming patterns beacon hill
jj seeing to a wobbly signpost

In the morning we passed over Beacon Hill – another heathery lump but this time a Marilyn and down the other side to Glyndwr’s Way which we followed to Felindre where the pub was closed till 7:00 pm. Unfortunately. I would have waited, obviously, but there were Things To Do, so we pressed on into England where we met pigs and brewed for lunch. It was sunny. It was nice. You should really try this sometime if you haven’t already done so.
climbing to the kerry ridgeway
More progress was made through the gently rolling Shropshire lambing fields to Anchor where the pub was actually permanently closed. I would have waited, but… er…  This is a shame because Anchor is the starting point of a cross-Wales walk and, presuming that some people might finish at Anchor, could have been a bit of a marketing ploy had somebody thought of it. Too late now, though.
kerry ridgeway sign
We joined the Kerry Ridgeway at Kerry Pole, about two-thirds of the way along it’s length. The Kerry Ridgeway is long and straight and ancient and follows a distinct ridgeline from Bishop’s Castle to Cider Cottage. According to infoboards along the way, it pre-dates the Iron Age, which is quite old in terms of oldness, I suppose. It is very easy walking and , I expect that views Northwards would be both huge and beautiful but unfortunately, today it was a  bit hazy.
ridgeway camp
I’d spotted a camping spot by map and, happily, this turned out to be quite a good spot with water, flat(ish) grass and no witnesses. Another frosty night followed.
Readers may have noticed that so far our weather has been unusually benign for a Knipe camping trip and we’d had almost continuous , if hazy sunshine, light winds and just a hint of warmth. Nothing dramatic was happening at all…
Except, the next morning, the sun went dim and the landscape took on a sepia tinge. An American tied to a stake in a castle courtyard some miles away announced to a baying crowd of knights, damsels and peasants that unless they let him go, he would cause the moon to block out the sun, which subsequently happened in short order. This lead to the crowd, and, more importantly, the KIng, to believe that he was a powerful magician, thence to his release, his marriage to a beautiful princess and the introduction of hamburgers and coca-cola to the mediaeval diet.
me on glog jj on glog
Meanwhile, I’d just had some porridge and we marched off towards the West and the end of the Kerry Ridgeway, bagging a small but shapely hill on the way – one Glog – easily bagged from the Kerry Ridgeway and with a fine vista Northwards too.
We battered our way  further Westwards, up onto a North-South ridge containing both Pegwn Mawr, another Marilyn, and a huge and ancient windfarm where the rusty turbines creaked and moaned in the breeze, some barely able to turn at all, bearings whistling and clunking loudly. Here is where turbines go in their final days. A nurse visits sometimes, apparently, to see if they’re all right, give them a bit of a possing with a warm soapy flannel  and enquire if their families have visited yet…..
me love trig - pegwn mawr
This bit of windfarmery is buggerred , it seems, so they’re going to build another one next to it, apparently. The locals are miffed about this in no small way, it would seem, according to posters supported by comments in the cafe in Caersws.
improving scenery
But we stalked along the wide ridge, bagging a small and heathery lump on the way and descended in improving scenery to the edge of the open access where another camping spot had been identified on the map. This turned out to be a rubbish spot – too much bracken, too sloppy, and too open to the local shepherd who would have to visit his very pregnant ewes that evening, and , probably again in the morning. This is Wales, not Scotland, y’know. YOu can’t just camp anywhere….
last camp
JJ suggested that we find a more secluded, not to say, discrete spot further down the road, which is what we did, and we found a nice little places by a burbling beck not too far away. We were undisturbed through the night, although there was a brief visit from a jim-jam dressed lady in the morning having a bit of a constitutional before brekkies (I suppose)
poster in caersws tearoom
Another sunny day followed and we finished off the walk on easy tracks to Caersws, where we had lots of tea, a butty and some  beer before the train came to take us home. Caersws is a friendly spot and it was here that I took the message that Meanie, one of the knipetowers cats (aka Mina) had died. The lady in the tearoom provided advice on an appropriate text response and a short memorial service involving yet another pot of tea was held. Poor Meanie – a cat which spent most of her long years asleep on a bed. Snoozing was , in fact, he greatest skill. And chasing the light of a pencil torch around the room.
The whole trip was about 37 miles according to my map-measuring skills, although I expect JJ will have come up with a different result from his gps. A link to JJ's cracking version of the events is here
Thanks to JJ for the company and the laughs – I think we spent most of the time swapping tales. And thanks to whoever was respnsible for the sunny weather and the eclipse. The eclipse was  a bit over the top, to be honest and will be difficult to top, I expect.
kerry ridgeway
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Dawn Linney said...

Looks as if you had a grand trip Mike!

christine hindle said...

I remember that scene from that film very well - in fact I was thinking about it as the eclipse happened....

Sorry to hear about Mina.

AlanR said...

Nice trip that. Shame about the pub closures and Mina.

Quinn said...

Sounds like a wonderful time - and great weather? What's that about? ;)

Very sorry about Mina. It sounds like she enjoyed her life. Cats set us a fine example in that way.

I'm wishing a toothache to the horrible person who mistreated the spaniel. Or he could have my arthritis. Or both!