Total so far: 398.9 miles
Percentage Completed: 23.9%
(Click map to enlarge)
The Offa's Dyke handbook says this is the toughest day of the walk. I happily concur. But what a walk! It is described as a switchback - Anquet measures it at about 4,000ft of ascent; but what glorious ascents!
The morning's were in mist and cloud, so the imagination was running riot. The afternoon's ascents were brutally obvious and so well prepared for: I will never forget the tranquillity of Churchtown and it's peaceful graveyard with only a handful of families resting there. The calm was only broken by the pair of crows chasing away the buzzard - an epic of ten minutes' life and death struggle.
I made it in reasonable time to Little Brompton Farm. If ever you have to say in just one B&B in your life, make it this place.
A seventeenth century farmhouse with a timeless welcome. Bob & Gaynor are not in the first flush of youth, and have been welcoming walkers here since before the National Trail was thought of. Sadly, due to their age, they are now trimming the operation down, but they are world famous on Offa's Dyke.
Similar plaudits must go to Helen, who runs the Blue Bell Inn. Helen runs a tight ship. It's not about the beer. It's about the pub and all who sail in her. She has banned four people in the last forty years, and once they are banned: that's it. They never cross the threshold again. She does not have much trouble.
I spent an evening with the local mechanic, who drives the school bus, two sheep farmers and Helen, who drives the whole show. If I had been able to sleep on her floor, I would be there now. An experience of a lifetime. I know - I have said it before, but this walk just gets better and better.
One last bit of astonishingly good news that restored my faith at last with 'government'. My friends Tony & Caroline have at last been given approval to adopt, when the system has seemingly spent a lifetime putting obstacles in the way of the two most potentially perfect parents a child could wish for. With news like this, and the day I have just experienced, I know that there really must be a force out there for fighting for good.