This morning on the way back from the facilities, I was offered a lift to Welshpool, and I surprised myself in how readily I turned it down. I’m not sure the answer would have been the same if the offer had been made last night.
Day 8: Abertridwr to Meifod – 25.71km, 624m ascent / 759m descent
Today’s walk logically broke into 4 chunks all of around 6km each, and this was supremely useful on a day when I was very much in “get it done” mode. The best of the walk was certainly behind me, and whilst there would be pleasant scenery in front, it wasn’t going to get beyond pleasant. At this stage, the most exciting bit of scenery to look forward, was the “Welcome to Welshpool” sign. It’s fair to say I had low expectations of today’s walk.
After a couple of days of foot issues, having the walk break into several distinct bits also helped a lot with looking after those feet. If there had been less defined stages, there would have been more temptation to simply push on. What my feet needed was frequent airing and rest.
Road gave way to forestry and a nasty climb up the Steps of Death. I like forestry, unlike many, except when it’s relentless steps – I’d rather walk the more gradual tracks that you tend to have.
A descent through a lot of bracken brought me into Pont Llogel. The shop there furnished me with coffee and a muffin and I took a decent long rest at a nearby picnic table. A full “boots off” stop.
The next section to Dolanog started off alongside the River Vyrnwy, and gave me a up close look at some rock strata right by the path. After this things got harder, as the path curved away from the river in order to take me over Allt Dolanog. This involved a lot of climb and fannying around in farmers’ fields. Bang on the 10km mark though, something clicked as a decent tune hit the playlist, and I felt a little boost.
Down below, Dolanog itself consisted of a church and some (thankfully open) toilets – although customers were expected to provide their own toilet paper in these parts.
The next section to Pontrobert was easily the best of the day, as it essentially followed the River Vyrnwy all the way. There was some initial roller-coastering, but as soon as it veered away from the actual riverbank, things smoothed out and it just became a nice level walk allowing the build up of decent momentum. This bought me back loads of time.
Pontrobert itself was a big disappointment. The shop was shut, as was the pub. I took my break leaning up against an old church building. A passer by stopped to chat and asked me why people always seem to walk Glyndŵr’s Way the way I was going. The only people he’d ever encountered doing otherwise were some people who’d walked it so many times that eventually for variety they were forced to do it backwards. Now with 88% of the walk under my belt, it was pretty clear that most people would do the walk the way the guidebooks are written (so from Knighton to Welshpool), and the vast majority of that quite small pool of people would probably only do it the once. Having experienced the walk is what would drive you do tackle a repeat the other way – starting in Welshpool, you’d save the more dramatic scenery for later on.
The final section to Meifod was a myriad of weak signage, generating several wrong turns and seeing me climb a small hill I didn’t need to. But I finally arrived in Meifod, found an ice cream just before the shop shut and checked into my campsite behind the Kings Head pub.