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Posts Tagged ‘Country Walking’

When Danny Boyle incorporated those famous words; our green and pleasant land into the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, he must have been talking about the hills of the South Downs….

“The aerial photograph reveals a pretty maypole, water mill, orchard and pasture inhabited by 70 grazing sheep. A village cricket green, orchard and farmers’ cottage complete the entrancing scene”. Extract from Daily Mail.

The only thing missing from my walk today was ‘a pretty maypole’ and I saw a windmill rather than a watermill.

I decided to spread my wings today and cross the downs to the little hamlet of Kingston. It looked close on the map, and unusually for me I didn’t do a distance calculation…. decided to just go.

It was a LOT further than I expected, but it was fabulous. The downs really are just beautiful and the green fields literally spread from horizon to horizon….as far as the eye can see.

I whizzed on down the now familiar route of Rotten Row past the non-existent Winterbourne Stream, left into Bell Lane and hung a right at the Swan Inn, and right again onto Juggs Lane.

Juggs Lane

A real country lane, narrow and lined with grass verges and trees, and hedgerows. I passed the occasional house nestled amongst the trees, and driveways leading to hidden houses, and soon crossed the motorway farrr below. The views across the valley to the east were spectacular and in the distance I could see the white cliffs above Cliffe, the Lewes Golf Course and the chalk downs where I walked last week.

I walked across those white cliffs last week

Autumn is truly here now and showing her fabulous colours. The road crossing the bridge and up the hill was of course metalled, my least favourite surface for walking. A group of cyclists whirled by, a mix of old and young – the youngest probably about 5 years old….a brilliant road for learning to ride safely.

Autumn, my favourite season

But soon I left that behind as the road became a sandy track beneath a tunnel of trees….the wind was howling through the tunnel like a freight train, the branches creaking and cracking with the strain. Passing a couple of orchards and definitely a few cottages one of which had horses and free range chickens.

Absolutely fantastic. It felt just wild!!

The path went on for quite some way and then through a gate and onto the rolling green fields….a green and pleasant land…..

I was completely on my own and the sense of freedom and wildness as the wind tried to sweep me off my feet was exhilarating. I can quite see why Julie Andrews ran and ran singing “the hills are alive…” and all that. But this girl doesn’t run (unless her life is at stake 🤣🤣🤣) so I just thought about it. And I definitely wouldn’t give up the day job to sing….

Mind you, I pretty much flew across the field with the assistance of the wind and soon realized that I had possibly miscalculated the distance relative to my free time of 2 hours….that field went on and on and on. And the wind howled like a dervish

Howling like a dervish 😃😃👏👏

To my excitement I spied a windmill (not a watermill but good enough) in the distance, the arms stationary without sails, but I could just imagine how fast they’d be whirling with the force of the wind.

A windmill 😀

I finally reached a farm gate and checking my app saw that I was near the road that leads into Kingston. Within 5 minutes of walking I was there. A quick visit to the 13th century ‘St Pancras Church of Kingston near Lewes’. Beautiful little church but again closed. I wish himself Archbishop whatshisname would pass on some of the wealth hidden in the vaults of his church and send some money to these parishes so they can afford to open up these amazing little churches and have them cleaned according to Covid-19 standards after visitors.

St Pancras Church of Kingston

By now 1 hour and 10 minutes of my break had passed so a dash of speed was needed. Finding the ‘finger’ post (really? That’s what they’re called?!) opposite the pub as directed by a local, I was soon wending my way along a ‘twitten’!! Yes, that’s exactly what he called it, and yayyy me, I knew what he meant 😉 Its so weird hearing locals talk about the twittens. I’ve travelled extensively in England and the UK as a whole, and I’ve literally never heard the word before, but I shall never forget it, and may just introduce it to some other areas of the country – twitten sounds so much more romantic than ‘lane’. Not to be rude about lanes or anything but….

A twitten in Kingston

Said local man suggested it should take me no more that 30 minutes to get back to Lewes and he was spot on.

After leaving the twitten behind me I crossed an enormous field and in the distance I could see the grazing sheep and cows…thankfully in the distance..

Then through a very smelly and muddy farmyard. I think it takes a certain type of person to cope with muddy yards. It would drive me crazy and I’d be constantly trying to clean it up 🤪🤪

From there I crossed a narrow road and onto a cycle path. Hoorah for cycle paths. This one took me nearly all the way into Lewes but at the cricket field I turned off the cycle path and onto a far prettier and more pleasant bridle path.

The bridal path

Suddenly I was on familiar territory having walked this way a couple of times now and soon passed the Priory and then left into Southover High Street, past Anne of Cleves House and the stunning Manor House

Manor House

Then right at the Swan Inn, right into Rotten Row, and left into the High Street.

Swan Inn, Lewes

8.94kms, and 1:59:16 – I arrived back at work with 44 seconds to spare 😃😃 total number of steps 13365 : elevation 111 meters….enjoyment; immeasurable.

Another fantastic walk done and dusted. I love seeing different parts of the country and always try to visit somewhere other than where I’m working. I’ve explored Lewes thoroughly now and beyond an outstanding visit to the castle (Saturday hopefully) and my still unaccomplished walk downstream of the river and the walk along the disused railway track, I think I’ve seen pretty much all of Lewes and then some.

But I still have 9 days here so I forsee a few more interesting explorations in my future

Mapmywalk
A short compilation

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Hoorah!! I did it! I finished walking the Inca Trail; virtually 😃🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️

Hoorah!

My walk today; 10.38kms took me over the finish line by .08km and challenge #4 is complete. As always the postcard that popped into my mailbox is gorgeous and really makes me want to walk the trail for real. But its quite a long way away, so I shall settle for having walked it virtually.

Machu Picchu

Voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel steeped in mystery and myth. Thought to have been built on the request of the incumbent Emperor Pachacuti as a royal estate, Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel. Built without mortar, the stones are cut so precisely, they fit perfectly together. Sitting atop two fault lines, during earthquakes the stones knock against each other and then fall back into place.

The rise and fall of the Inca Empire lasted a mere 130 years. Following the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in early 16th century, Machu Picchu was abandoned with the Spanish unlikely to have ever seen it. Left to the elements the citadel was grown over by vegetation and forgotten over the centuries until 1911 when Hiram Bingham III of Yale University, visited the site as part of an expedition in search of another city. Returning the following year, Bingham spent 4 months with local labour to clear the vegetation and the next 3 years excavating and studying discovered artifacts.

From here the final descent into Aguas Calientes is on a hair-raising 9km zig-zag mountain road called Hiram Bingham Hwy. Barely wide enough to fit two cars and lacking guardrails, it is an unsealed road and a rough ride that is not for the faint of heart nor for those who are prone to vertigo.

Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, book yourself into a thermal bath to rest and recover your weary body. Take a walk through the local craft market before settling in for dinner. Try the Peruvian national drink, the Pisco Sour, whilst indulging in the spicy and bold flavours of Peruvian cuisine.

Fantastic!! 👏👏👏🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️

My ‘real’ walk was a little more mundane, but no less satisfying. I had a plan, hmmm??🤪🤪 to follow the river from Lewes to Newhaven. It looks easy enough on Google maps and I spent a few hours last night researching possible routes. But none of them were really clear so today I decided to scout the route as far as possible, and see how far I could get.

Not very far as it turned out 😂😂

At 2.74kms I faced a wee challenge, a very locked gate and the possibility of unwanted company.

I debated climbing over the gate, but after consideration thought it would be rude and didn’t fancy getting halfway across the field only to find said 🐂 behind me!!

So instead, I retraced my steps and returned to town.

I then decided to follow the river upstream, since downstream wasn’t quite working out. Much better route.

Very pretty, lots of green and a fab path. I crossed over the river via a pedestrian bridge and found myself on the Sussex Ouse Valley Way, and a very walkable path.

The views of the river and valley are just perfect and its well away from any traffic, except for the occasional cyclist.

I walked for quite a distance – I could see the Offam church spire peeping up between the trees, the same forests where the Battle of Lewes was fought in 1264

and here I encountered a whole herd of cattle. I walked on some way but in the distance I could see a cow bellowing loudly and having a hissy fit, so before she got the whole bunch worked up, I retreated…as Henry III should really have considered…

This fellow wasn’t one bit interested

Once back over the river, I did a bit of a dogleg and discovered a disused railway line….heading enticingly off into the distance. Not very far according to a local lady, just 1km. So I shall head back that way next week and walk it.

Then with just 3kms to go I headed back to work and after going around the block twice LOL I finally reached 10.38kms and my break was over. But I reached my goal and completed the Inca Trail.

I do so love walking and could really just keep going….

Scenes from the walk
Looks a bit like a bow and arrow…

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I received my latest Inca Trail postcard last night.

Walking the Inca Trail – virtually 😃

This is one of the features of virtually walking  @the_conqueror_challenges

I love the history and the stories that accompany the postcards.

Surfacing from the cloud forest of the Runkuraqay Pass, the trail commences its descent towards the ruins of Sayacmarca with sweeping views of the Pumahuanca Mountain.

Continue on to Phuyupatamarca, one of the most intact Inca ruins, and stop to enjoy the snow-capped view of Mt Salcantay. At 6,200m, Mt Salcantay is the tallest mountain in the region. It’s Quecha name translates as wild, uncivilized, savage and as such is often referred to as Savage Mountain. The summit of Mt Salcantay was first conquered in 1952 by a French-American expedition. No easy feat since the “climb involves 1,800m of vertical gain, on glacier, snow, ice, and some rock.”

Trek onwards to Intipata and Winay Wayna, both known for their agricultural terraces and their convex shape of the terrain, to finally reach the Sun Gate for a breathtaking aerial view of Machu Picchu. Once a fortress, the Sun Gate was the main entrance to Machu Picchu and most likely guarded by imperial guards. Given the strict controls over entries, it is believed that only royalty and select guests were permitted to visit.

The first postcard arrived 5 days ago, shortly after I started the challenge; its beautiful and the history is fascinating.

The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is part of a much larger road network. At the height of its power, the Inca Empire stretched 4,023km from modern day Ecuador to Argentina. The Inca road system was one of the most advanced transportation structures of its time, linking together 40,000km of roadway. The road system provided for quick and reliable logistical support, civilian and military communication, personnel movement on official duty and control over the Empire by dispatching troops when necessary. Following the Spanish conquest in the 1500s much of the network was abandoned and destroyed. In order to preserve the history and restore parts of the network the Inca Road System, officially known as Andean Road System, entered the UNESCO register in 2014.

Much of the Inca Trail is the original construction. Imagine that with every step you take someone laid the roadway beneath your feet some 500 years ago.

The ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass is both dreaded and revered. It is the most rigorous climb reaching heights of 4,215m in a such a high altitude environment where the oxygen level is low making breathing shallower and the effort needed to move forwards greater. In the same breath overcoming the difficulty and strenuousness of the climb is also the most rewarding moment.

Following a steep descent into the valley of the pass comes a second ascent to Runkuraqay Pass. On the way are the ruins of a tampu, which was an administrative and military structure used for supplies, lodgings and depositories of quipu-based accounting records.

Quipu was a record keeping system of different knots tied in ropes attached to a longer cord. It was used in lieu of writing since the Incas did not have an alphabet based writing system.

The tampu was served by conscripted individuals from nearby communities, as part of the mit’a labor system. Mit’a was mandatory public service used as the labor force to build roads, bridges, terraces and fortifications.

Isn’t that fantastic. So much thought has gone into creating these postcards and the information provided is something I would not have known unless I actually did some research.

Getting the postcards is a massive encouragement to increase my kms ASAP 🤣🤣🤣🤣

If you’d like to join me on these virtual challenges, you can sign up here via my link. You don’t have to join a team, I didn’t, but there are loads of teams if you fancied walking with other folks.

This is not an affiliate link and I don’t make any money from people signing up, but you get a 10% discount on any walks you sign up for and I think I get a 10% discount as well….which is a moot point really since I’ve already signed up for all the walks I want to do 😃😃😃 for now anyway. Of course they may well introduce other walks, in which case, I guess I’ll sign up for them. I am just a tad addicted.

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I recently arrived in Lewes for my next assignment (the benefit of working as a Carer is that although I’m away from home a lot, I get to visit some amazing places.

The day after I arrived I set out to explore and noticed that some of the lanes were named ‘twitten’ like Church Twitten for example. So i visited wikipedia and did some research – A distinctive feature of the centre of Lewes is the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street and date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875 “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills. For example, small passageways leading between two buildings to courtyards, streets, or open areas behind”. Some twittens (e.g. Broomans Lane, Church Twitten, Green Lane, Paine’s Twitten) remain flint-wall-lined pedestrian thoroughfares, others (e.g. Watergate Lane, St Andrew’s Lane and renamed Station Street (formerly St Mary’s Lane) are now narrow usually one-way roads. The most notable of all Lewes’ twittens is Keere Street. A weekly Sunday morning run up and down all the twittens on the south side of the High Street – the so-called Twitten Run – has operated in the town since November 2015.

Hmmmm….tell me more. I love a good challenge and of course I’m currently following the Inca Trail virtual challenge so I did some planning and on Sunday during my break I decided to walk all the ‘twittens’ – I managed to walk along most of them and on Monday I walked the rest.

Along the way I discovered amazing places and hidden gardens. The twittens all run downhill, so there was a lot of downhill and up hill walking to be done LOL

First I walked along Rotten Row past the old Toll House from when the town was gated and near to where the Westgate was originally located – it’s no longer in existence unfortunately. I walked right to the end past the Lewes cemetery and left into Bell Lane and then left into Southover High Street where I passed the Anne of Cleves house, sadly closed atm due to Covid-19. There a number of wonderful old houses/buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Still following Southover High Street I walked passed Southover Gardens and up to Bull Lane (off Southover Road).

From there I walked up Paines Twitten to the High Street then right and down St Swithun’s Terrace. Left again into Bull Lane and left into Green Lane up to Stewards Inn Lane where I turned right and then right again into St Martin’s Lane. Downhill all the way to Southover Road and then left into Watergate Lane uphill to the High Street. A lengthy walk later I turned downhill into Walwer’s Land and left into Friars Walk and after a quick visit to the church; All Saints,

I turned left into Church Twitten and uphill once again to the High Street. Last turn right into Broomans Lane back to Friars Walk and then back to the High Street and home…5.55 kms.

The following day I walked a total of 4kms to finish walking all the lanes and twittens.

Lewes is seriously cool and I wish I had planned to stay overnight for recreational purposes 😃 Maybe next time.

Meanwhile I have plenty more exploring to do, there are some fantastic dedicated walks and circular walks in the area. And so much history to discover….

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I was reading through some Instagram posts this morning and a post by one of my favourite ‘grammers’ caught my eye.

She commented about having encountered some ‘yompers’ on a trail she was recently walking, and how their speeding ahead made her feel a bit inadequate. I’d not heard the expression ‘yompers’ before, but I do remember seeing them whizzing by when I walked the Camino in 2017.

Their faces set, backs straight, poles thumping the ground, they stride steadfastly ahead, looking neither left nor right, they whizz ahead at speed…. I often wondered why!!

They miss the scenery, they miss the little treasures along the wayside, they never (from what I saw) engaged with the locals, or visited a church to sit down and absorb the tranquillity- mostly they entered a church to get their passport stamped, and out again…once more to yomp ahead. I really would love to know why…..??

Is it a matter of finishing the route as quickly as possible, do they have a limited time to walk, is it about clocking up miles the fastest, getting to the albergues first to secure a bed, or perhaps they just add each route completed to a check list? Done this, done that, no t-shirt.

I’m classified as a ‘slow stroller’ – although my family would disagree 😂😂🤪

Walking for me is about the freedom of being outdoors, about the scenery,  the little discoveries I make along the tide line or on top of cliffs, about visiting the important landmarks enroute, and often going completely ‘off-piste’ to visit some place I’d seen on Google while planning my trip. I don’t always reach my destination (unless I have a confirmed booking) but oh my, how much I enjoy just looking, enjoying and absorbing while walking.

The yompers can yomp, I prefer to absorb my environment and actually remember what I’ve experienced…. and of course to take as many photos as possible 😉

Which is also why I mostly walk alone; going solo I can stop whenever, wherever I like, take photos every 5 seconds, have a snooze under a tree in a graveyard, or a shady stand of trees….sit in a pub and enjoy a beer, or cup of tea….I’m not holding anyone up, and I’m not annoying anyone because I keep stopping…

And having said that, I really must get myself a good mobile charger. The battery on my latest Samsung (2018) is crap and despite closing all background apps, the battery fizzles out after 6-8 hours. I stress about taking photos because the camera uses a lot of power, so invariably I spend money in pubs along the way while I boost my phone. Its tiresome.

I’ve tested one or two models, but they don’t do the job and I end up returning them to the store…. something small and powerful would be useful please Universe 🌌🌠☺

Meanwhile, I’ll keep strolling….and the yompers can yomp!!

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As we come to the end of Day 7 of lockdown, the latest news is that actually there is no end in sight as the true impact of the coronavirus aka Covid-19 starts to show its impact. 21 days was a very optimistic timeframe.

As we face this prospect let us hold this fast….a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along’.”

I remember when the first reports of this virus started filtering out of China. I remember my thoughts on that….which I won’t share, but I do remember thinking that if you mess with nature, its going to jump up and bite you in the ass. And that’s what it’s done. For decades animal activists have fought against the appalling treatment of animals in China.

This time last week, who would have thought that we’d be in a peacetime lockdown situation. Looking back the actions of the Chinese government seemed to be so draconian, but not surprising given their terrible human rights abuses. And suddenly we’re in a similar situation, albeit less draconian.

Its been a weird week in all, taking time to get used to the new rules, learning more about how the virus operates and spreads. Thousands more have died, and the orange swamp thing is burying his head in the sand. No surprise there. What was a surprise (not really) was our esteemed clown I mean PM contracting the virus 🙄🙄🙄 Leader? I think not. Blah blah blah stay at home, practice social distancing, wash your hands….and what does he do? He shakes everyone’s hands and then brags about it!! I don’t want to use the word ‘twat’ coz its rude, but seriously…

Here in Nether Stowey we’re still getting used to the idea but people have been amazing, observant of the rules on the whole as we adjust to the new normal. I’ve said hello to some really pleasant people, although that’s not unusual in a village like this and chatted briefly to a lovely lady who turns out to have been a carer back in the day before retirement. 😃😃

My hands have never been so clean or so chapped from constant washing and drying, and I’ve never viewed my clothes and shoes as enemies before….they never see the inside of the house. Its totally peculiar having to spray the shopping down and clean it all before touching it. Gloves have become the latest fashion accessory.

I went out for my usual perambulation today and walked a completely different route after passing the castle mound. And I’m glad I did. I discovered a land of enchantment. Unfortunately my phone battery didn’t last the walk so I only have a few photos, but I’m planning on going that way again today….if the rain holds off.

Life in the house seems to have settled somewhat and the lady I’m caring for has gone from vile and vicious to calm and friendly….what a difference a pill makes. Thank god because my nerves were shredded by Friday and I was quite prepared to quit and forgo the extra 3 weeks of work!!!

So here we are, end of day 7, the first week of many done and dusted. And life will never be the same.

I’ve decided that the postmen and ladies who are still working also deserve our appreciation, so every time I pass them on their rounds or driving by…I applaud and give them the thumbs up. And I shall leave a note of thanks for the folks who collect and empty our trash bins…because if they stop, the result will be awful.

Keep safe folks, be vigilant and wash your hands 🥴🥴🥴🥴

I’ll post this tomorrow morning because we have no network here again tonight. All the best ❤❤

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The weather in north east Wales has been pretty grim recently; much of what you’d expect mid-winter really…..but still hard to deal with LOL We’ve been pelted with rain, sleet, hail and even snow on the crest of the Berwyn’s. The problem with the rain is that it’s a bit like the April showers you get in Ireland…it showers down, clears, you get excited and think okay I can get out now, and by the time you put your shoes on, it starts raining again. I’ve given up and decided just to get on with planning my September pilgrimages. and writing this blog.

Even though I haven’t been out much, I have managed to slip in a couple of walks, one of which caught me out; the skies had cleared, bright blue so I quickly put my shoes on, grabbed my poles and set off. Whilst stopped at the post office for envelopes it started to rain again URGH!! So cutting the walk short, instead I popped into St Nicholas Church; always worth a visit.

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St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales from October 2017

A Grade 1 listed 13th century (circa 1227) Norman Church with additions from the 15th and 19th centuries, the church contains an example of a pre-reformation rood screen brought from Chirbury Priory together with the rood-loft and the stalls with their misericords after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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Pre-reformation Rood screen St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

Within the church is the ornate tomb of Richard Herbert (d. 1593). Herbert was the lord of Montgomery Castle, and father of the poet and cleric George Herbert. Also buried here is Richard, 2nd Baron of Chirbury, who died in 1655, the last of the Herbert family to live at the castle. The tomb is rather extravagant as they mostly were and the effigies are ornate and quite lifelike, the features of the encumbents clearly detailed.

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Memorial tomb of Richard Herbert and wife at St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

At the foot of the tomb are the effigies of 2 knights. Quite marvellous. I haven’t been able to find much information about these effigies.

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Knight effigies in St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

The stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful. I love visiting old churches, they contain ever so much history.

The 2nd walk I manage to get in without getting too wet was just before the new band of weather hit us. I was intent on reaching the castle but on impulse I decided to walk up to the War Memorial on Town Hill that I had been urged to go and see…apparently the views from there are stupendous.

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half way up; fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking east towards Shropshire

So turning off the road I slipped through the kissing gate just before the castle entrance and headed up the steep incline , steps provided by knotted tree roots and stones. Thankfully this was before the rain, but even so the ground was muddy and mucky and my shoes squelched noisily as I plodded uphill. I finally reached the road (muddy track) that takes you right to the top of the hill…elevation 1050 feet above sea-level, as I discovered when I got there. I walked and walked for ages, not having realised just how far it was from the road….funny how folks don’t tend to tell you those kind of details….”Oh, it’s just up the hill from the castle”. Hmmm. As I climbed and climbed two ladies jogged past…I was astounded…the slope was very steep and the ground totally squelchy. How do they not slip and fall. I just take my eye off the ground for a second and I’m over. As always I was ever so grateful for my walking poles. The description on the website I located says:

  • Going: Medium difficulty. Climbs steeply to a high local hilltop. Slippy in damp conditions.

Noooo kidding!!!! After 15 minutes of climbing, by which stage I was beginning to get out of breath, I finally saw the monument.

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and an ordnance survey triangulation station

It’s enormous and wayyyyy bigger than I anticipated. But finally I was there, and the views were as spectacular as I had been told. There’s a viewpoint stone with a disc on the top and directional markings showing where and how far places are from that point. It reminded me of the marker I saw on the Malverns I climbed …oh gosh…..ages ago.

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and distance marker – 1050 feet above sea-level

Although the weather was overcast and cloudy I could still see for miles and miles. The distant mountain peaks various shades of blue and grey, as they disappeared into the distance, the hovering clouds tinged pink by the setting sun.

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fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking west

From down the valley I could hear sheep bleating and the occasional roar of a car rushing by on the Kerry Road. Thankfully I didn’t meet any cows. It was fairly breezy and with scant vegetation or trees to break the flow of wind it got quite blustery, but not so much that it spoilt my visit. The crest of the hill is bereft of much else besides a massive expanse of grass and a couple of small stands of wind-blown trees.

The memorial is quite enormous and I wonder why they felt the need to plant it so high up. I’m sure it must be visible from miles away. The neighbour across the road very kindly showed me a newspaper cutting of the unveiling on 23.04.23….it’s been up there for 95 years,can you imagine that!!! Weirdly my birth day and month (but not year…. DUH!!)

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales,

Apparently it’s made of Portland stone and was transported to Montgomery by train and then taken up to the crest by horse cart. My heart aches for the poor horses…that stone is big and heavy. It’s also quite weird to look at the photo and realise that all the people in the image are dead by now. We are all so transient and yet these memorials we raise are still there and last way longer than we do. You have to be dead to be remembered.

There are not many more trees now than then. In all I walked 4.09 kms/2.56  miles with an elevation gain of 139 meters…

I look forward to the weather clearing a bit before I leave next week…I’d like to walk another section of Offa’s Dyke and possibly walk as far as the river – which I still haven’t seen.

For more about Montgomery’s War Memorial, I located this website which offers further information on how to get there and what you can see.

 

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Yesterday’s Camino 2018 practice walk took me up to Montgomery Castle. I hadn’t been up for a fair while; snow and frost. Well mostly frost, since the snow was so last year 😉 and I have actually been up once since I arrived here on the 3rd…

I’m trying to get in at least an hour of walking every day now. I remember training most days for at least 2 hours over 18 month for my previous Camino, but I’m hoping some of that fitness still lingers and that 9 months of training will be sufficient this year. It’s not a far distance, but it is all uphill and that final stretch sure stretches my lungs LOL My legs too complain loudly by the time I reach the ridge.

Although not as substantial as some of the castles we get in Wales and the rest of the UK, Montgomery Castle is stupendous, albeit just ruins and a fraction of what it used to be. I love the history attached and wish the walls could talk. The English considered it to be the Key to the Kingdom; the kingdom being Wales, since the border with England (Shropshire) is just a stones throw away and easily accessible with a fair walk.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

Built more as a defensive position than a luxurious palace, it played a key role in many turning point dates in the history of the UK…from Offa’s day till the 17th century, when in 1643 the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary troops in the Civil war by Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirchury.

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The Battle of Montgomery 1644 – map my walk

Originally a motte and bailey (a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard or bailey), it was eventually rebuilt in stone. Rebuilding commenced in the late summer of 1223; the 16th birthday of Henry III of England. The castle was eventually reduced to a backwater prison and later demolished by order of Parliament.

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; the ruined gatehouse to the inner ward seen from the south

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; imposing walls built of stone

One of my favourite things to do when I get up to the castle is to sit on the ruined walls and just enjoy the quiet and the stupendous views. I can clearly see Offa’s Dyke from there as well as the Berwyns (range of Welsh Mountains). I believe there are number of Roman camps and mottes dotted about the country and it’s really frustrating to not be able to get to see them. I shall have to include a visit to this area when I have my motor home. A misty kind of day, in the distance you can see the promised cold front approaching.

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fantastic views across Wales and Shropshire from Montgomery Castle

Before leaving I took a walk right around the perimeter of the castle – looking up at the rocks on which the castle is built I am awed at the workmanship that went into this imposing edifice.

Distance walked: 1.86 miles (2.98 kms) – not much as far as distance goes and certainly not anywhere near the distances I covered during my breaks last year, but it’s building. At the moment I have quite a few projects I’m working on so have to split my 2 hour break between walking and working 🙂

 

 

 

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After a number of overcast, wintry days, yesterday dawned bright and sunny and no frost… Perfect for an adventure. Our neighbour loaned me his map of the Montgomery area showing various walks (yellow publications), and suggested a local walk that would take in a section of Offa’s Dyke; (Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796 – had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea). This border between Wales and England was built to prevent the Welsh from infiltrating the country. Not sure why they thought it was a good idea, but on closer research it may well have been a defensive wall.

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can’t complain about that view

Kitted out with shoes and poles I set off with determination. To reach the section where I planned to walk was a fair trot from the village and my initial terrain was a good solid tarmac road. The route goes through Lymore Park and farmland. All went well, I passed the Lower Pond and a farm, crossing multiple cattle grids and eventually reached the border between Montgomeryshire and Shropshire where I encountered #4 cattle grid (urgh, they are horrible to walk across), and a field of dozy sheep. They are such silly creatures.

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dozy sheep. Offa’s Dyke path

Starting off along the path, I was sceptical as to how good an idea this was going to be…the path was a slushy, muddy morass…mostly churned up by previous walkers and a few horses, and I considered retracing my steps and leaving it for another day. But my philosophy in life is: do it while you are here, it may be the only opportunity you have.

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along the dyke….the walking was not pleasant…although the scenery was lovely

So with that in mind, I started walking along the path… Mud, mud not so glorious mud. Slushy, mushy, slimy, grimy mud. The first 3 sections were just bloody awful and I spent a lot of time trying to find stable spots to place my shoes without slipping or getting too dirty. Sloshing through craftily hidden pooled water, standing on tussocks that were not as stable as they looked, slipping and sliding as I attempted to get from one spot to another and accompanied with lots of laughter, cussing and wtf am I doing, I later forded a small rushing stream; a very tricky section that was a sheer, unadulterated quagmire. Creeping gingerly beneath overhanging branches, my poles planted firmly before advancing, I made it safely and relatively dry, albeit a tad more muddy, across the wee bridge, but after walking some distance further I realised /discovered I’d gone off course, so had to back-track and ford the stream once again. OMG!! Seriously.

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this is where I went wrong…

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going back….fording a stream…the ground on the other side of the stile was a quagmire

I didn’t escape unscathed this time around. After crossing back over the bridge and stile, I surveyed the immediate terrain and spotted what looked like a stable spot. Alas it was not so…instead, as I trod down my foot sank ankle deep into mud that sucked at my shoe, reluctant to let it go 😱😱  After a bit of a tussle, hanging onto my walking poles for dear life trying to stay upright, I won….The mud finally released my shoe with a sucky slurk. However my shoe was now completely covered in thick mucky mud.

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I won the tussle 🙂

Onwards…. I found the track once again (thank you mapmywalk), and from thereon the terrain was fairly stable and a lot less muddy albeit still churned up in places..and those hidden pools. Sigh.

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Offa’s Dyke as I thought it would be….how gorgeous is that stream

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Offa’s Dyke; now that’s more like it

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Offa’s Dyke – a long distance walk on the border between England and Wales

6.53 kms and 1.55 hours later and my shoes and walking pants were in the washing machine. 🤔🤔🤔🤔 That was a quite insane walk.

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map my walk

Well worth it though, the countryside here is astoundingly beautiful. As with most of the UK, Wales and the bordering English county of Shropshire are stunning. Much of the land here is given over to farming and raising sheep or horses. Dotted across green fields are huge trees, now bereft of their summer greenery, but nonetheless absolutely stunning. I actually prefer to see trees without their leaves; far more interesting.

And as weird and exhausting as it was, I felt it was good practice for any UK walks I have planned… It rains a lot in this country (duh!! who’d have guessed?) and there’s no way I’ll enjoy the kind of weather I had in Portugal and Spain in September 2017.

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I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

It’s given me pause for thought in terms of my shoes. I may/will have to invest in something more hardy. I was just glad I didn’t have my backpack on when my shoe got stuck in the mud… That could have caused a different outcome in my tussle for possession. and once again I had occasion to be thankful for my walking poles. Truly, I will never walk any long distances without them ever again. They have saved my ass so many times; on the Camino and certainly on the many walks I have undertaken in the UK; my Canterbury Tales & Way of St Augustine

More about Offa’s Dyke: ref wikipedia

Offa’s Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa) is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet (20 m) wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet (2.4 m) high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a scheduled monument. Some of its route is followed by the Offa’s Dyke Path; a 176-mile (283 km) long-distance footpath that runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south.

scheduled monument is a “nationally important” archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.

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So excited to be part of this fantastic challenge #walk1000miles 2017

It’s literally changed, improved and saved lives, and taken people of all ages, from toddlers to oldies, from all walks of life, in all manner of situations, out and about; in cities, towns, villages, hamlets and the countryside, to and from and in all parts of the world – whether it’s 500 or 5,000 the members have risen to the challenge and gone walking 🙂

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….one foot in front of the other…

Join us along with Country Walking for 2018 and walk 1,000 miles or maybe even 5,000 – yes, some people have walked in excess of 5,000 miles this year. Awesome 🙂

Walk 1000 miles in 2018 from Country Walking on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/245014566

 

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