28 March 2007

DAY 28: Welshpool to Llanymynech: Evening Report

Today: 12.2 miles
Total so far: 423.0 miles
Percentage Completed: 25.3%


(Click map to enlarge)

After the lunchtime pub - a lovely saunter along the looping canal, passing swans nesting on the towpath and passing over an aqueduct, strange in that the canal has a dead end and so no one will be passing over it; a lovely piece of British eccentricity. The sky to the north of me start building to an electric intensity, and the air freshens after the muggy morning as I enter Llanymynech - a tidy little place with school, Post Office and three pubs that I have seen so far.

It starts to rain as I force my rucksack through the narrow front door: Perfect timing after a comfortable day.

That completes the Montgomery plain and the Severn Valley. The guidebook suggests that these past two days might not have been the high spots of Offa's Dyke, but I disagree. The walking has been pastoral and canal walking, when not strewn with rubbish left by towny idiots, is idyllic.

It may be early in the walk to try to understand why some places seem to be so ghastly and why others are so delightful, but my theory so far rests with the sense of scale in a community.

It seems that when you are in a village, ie a small community, everybody knows you and the community forges links with the youngsters to ensure they have enough to do and are valued. It would seem that when you live in a town, you do not have the chance to be known by all, and so older children tend to group together, as they at least form a cohesive group. This would seem to dislocate them from the community at large, and so the trouble starts.

However, with cities, there is so much available that these children are almost spoilt for choice, so the place has a safer feel to it as they are usefully occupied.

So, what is the answer - "When I were young" there were school trips, clubs, scouts, choirs etc: There was never enough time to do it all!

Nowadays, youth groups have dwindled as youth leaders and teachers have ever more paperwork, risk assessments and the like to wade through before any child gets a sniff of adventure and involvement.

Until we dump this bureaucratic crap and just take kids out to do risky stuff and actually succeed at something they never thought they were capable of and learn some self respect, then it can only get worse.

Our risk averse, blame culture is feeding a society that is becoming increasingly divisive towards children. Someone out there, and I don't mean politicians, should stand up and be prepared to denounce the nanny culture with authority, before it gets any worse.


  1. I denounce the nanny culture too!

    But to more joyous things. Glad to see the Suffolk mud training stood you in good stead on the earlier stages – well done sir! And although you are deep in the land of the proud people of the west, I believe that I can still offer assistance to speed your onward progress

    Two phrases to assist you to exit the land of your fathers:

    1)To ask directions: “Esgusodwch fi, ond pa un yw’r fford gyflymaf i Loegr?”

    2)To clear your way forward (esp in a crowded welsh speaking pub) “Allan o fy ffordd, y corrach bach gwallt-du lladronllyd.”

    Either of these should see you over the border in no time.

    Toodle pip

    Lord Elpus

    P.S. The welsh word for hospital is "ysbyty" You never know when it might come in useful

  2. Don't leave me in suspense, what do the mean? I recognice Loegr from the Mabinogion (IIRC), but that's all, bach.

  3. I assume you carried out a FULL risk assessment before you set out on this fool-hardy and very dangerous trip?


  4. Alan,
    I have got 2 days behind reading your blog because I failed to risk assess the location of the water pipes in my back garden with disaterous results. I broke the news to the lovely Deborah by informing her that the water feature she has been wanting for some time had been achieved in a matter of seconds!! She was most impressed!! Needless to say I am now on first name terms with guy at the local DIY store although our water bill (and soil) has gone through the roof.


    Your brother with hair

  5. you been peaking a look at my recent post on getting started/scouting there Alan?

  6. Until we dump this bureaucratic crap and just take kids out to do risky stuff and actually succeed at something they never thought they were capable of and learn some self respect, then it can only get worse.


    *trots on again*

  7. Ahhhh.Llanymynech! The scene of many drunken evenings when I was a student as one of my best mates lived here. The Bradford Arms, or "Maimie's", used to serve rocket fuel Worthington E brought up from the cellar in a jug. Everyone sat around one large table in the centre of the bar. Once, Maimie wouldn't let me buy a round of 3 pints because John, her younger brother (who was in his 70s), and who used to fetch the beer up from the cellar, had gone to round up his cows which had got out of their field. "If I let you have these three pints, David, there will be none left for anyone else so you can only have halves". The mens' urinal was simply a wall in the back yard. I went back to the pub last summer whilst on a day walk on Offa's Dyke path. It's been done up since Maimie's time. She died twenty plus years ago but is still remembered in there.

    1. At the time of my visit Llanymynech was a very strange place. In England the smoking ban in pubs had just been put into effect, but Wales still had a couple of weeks grace. (Or was it the other way round?)

      The border runs right down the middle of the high street and so the pubs on one side of the street were rammed full with happy drinkers & smokers but on the other side they were empty; Another nail in the coffin of the Public House.

      I came across some wonderful pubs on that trip up Offa's Dyke, run be some very old people. Sadly, I believe they are all shut now.


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