Walking from Llanthony Priory, up to the Hatterall Ridge along the track known as the Rhiw Cwrw (Beer Track) an ancient track used by the monks of Llanthony Priory to transport casks of beer from Llanthony to Longtown on the other side of the Ridge. All I can say is they must have really liked their beer to do this. Rather them than me!
Then up to the ridge to admire the views – in the far distance the Long Mynd in Shropshire can be glimpsed along with the Clee Hills, MalvernHills, Graig Syffrydin, the Forest of Dean then south along Offas Dyke. The wind beginning to blow with a bitter edge before we descend to the valley for a visit to the Queens Head.
Discovered a house by the Iron Age fort inhabited by an relatively well known author and his family. We liked the poem on the barn and the railway carriage in the garden – later we enjoyed hearing the story of how it got there. Let’s just say if you want a railway carriage to become your study then it is a really good idea to factor in the weight of said carriage, what weight a tractor can pull and the effect the weight may have on the tarmac road through the village before you decide to go ahead. It took three tractors and a crane to get the carriage into place and wrecked the access for locals. Even the National Park who objected to its appearance decided it was wiser to leave it in situ!
A warm welcome met us at the Queens Head at Cymyoy where we stayed far longer than intended due to Mouse who curled up on my lap and then transferred without protest to Merrick’s knee when finally, I got up. Mouse lives next door and graces the pub with her presence when she feels like company. We left her sitting on the stool by the bar. A cat whose life is a very happy one!
The walk back entailed a trek up what the guidebook described as ‘a seemingly endless ascent’ towards Gaer hill fort. Honestly! This ranks highly as an off putting description to read just before you start. Unfortunately it was also an accurate one.
Eventually we reached the top and the wind picked up as clouds rolled across the darkening sky. Sundown was not far off.
The Darren showed up clearly on the opposite side of the valley, a slowly crumbling cliff face and the rough thick coats of the mountain ponies showed how well prepared they were for the wintry night ahead. Ieuan and Merrick picked up the pace as the track led down to the valley floor and Chris and I took our cues from them.
Met only a horse rider up high and having the mountains to ourselves on such a glorious day was the icing on the cake. Who wants to walk with crowds in the high, lonely places? Much better by far to enjoy the solitude and wild with a few or alone.
We missed the stone marking the spot where Richard de Clare, a Norman knight and brother to the founder of Tintern Abbey, was murdered by a band of Welsh outlaws led by Morgan ap Owen in 1135. A good reason to return!