Chance Encounters

After a week at home we are back on the road, this time heading west into Wales to stay at Hay-on-Wye which I always thought was in England but is just over the border into the Principality.  We arrived at Tirmynach Farm CL yesterday afternoon and immediately realised we had struck lucky, it is a cracking site with stunning views towards the Black Mountains and we are only ten minutes walk into Hay.

After setting up yesterday we went for a wander around Hay to get our bearings.  I am sure everyone knows this is a town famous for its book shops, I will need to keep Lynnie on a tight leash, walking about she also spots a pottery and an ice cream parlour, Shepherds, further distractions for a girl of Lynnie’s delectation.

Pulling up the blinds of the Coachman this morning I was immediately struck by the view.  I know it has not changed since last night, but the early morning sun shining on Hay Buff is absolutely stunning.  What better way to start the day.  Our walk starts by picking up the footpath that leads through the CL and heads across a couple of fields into Clyro.

After crossing the A438 we enter the village and turn left and then immediately after passing the church take a minor road on the right which we follow as it climbs uphill.

After about a quarter of a mile we take a footpath on the right leading into woodland, a footbridge crosses a stream and then we are amongst the trees.  This is the type of woodland in which we usually get lost, partly through not paying attention and partly because of difficulties discerning the path.  There is a footpath running through the woods, but there are also other routes that locals must walk and we need to ensure we are heading the right way.

Careful observation identifies an old gate post and a path that leads uphill with the stream below us.  We emerge into a field and I am relieved that I have picked the right route. Now we have cracking views across the valley to Hay Buff and Lord Hereford’s Knob.

We make slow progress across the field as it is a steady climb and both dogs are tugging at their leads to sample the delights left by sheep.  We go through a gate and turn right to follow a path through open land and then into another field.  There are a few sheep and a single bear in the field, the bear has a calf and she warily watches our progress, but decides we do not present a threat.

Through a gate we enter Great Gwernfythen Farm yard and try to identify the route through the barns.  If I owned a farm like this I would be sure to make it clear where the footpath goes, I believe we are on the right route but the field we are about to enter is home to lots of frisky young bears.  As we are just jamming about we decide to take an alternative footpath leading up the farm track.  So we turn around and go back through the yard and pick up the track that leads past Cock-y-roostyn.

As the track meets a road we turn right along a footpath and head across a series of fields to join a track that leads us into the farmyard of Upper Wernypentre.  As we approach the yard we spot a lady sitting on a water trough with her feet on a bucket, her face raised to the sun.  She immediately asks about the dogs, which starts a twenty-minute conversation.  She has lived on the farm all her life, well over seventy years and gives us her perspective on the world.  I can’t say we agree with everything she says, but it is an enjoyable chat that brightens up our day and hopefully hers too.

We carry on along the farm track to a minor road and turn left and take a footpath through gates into a field behind Lower Wernypentre, the next gate we come to is difficult to open but we eventually manage to get through and follow the path as it crosses the field to another minor road.   Before going through the gate we stop to look at the standing stone in the field to our right.

On the minor road we turn left and after a couple of hundred yards take a right fork in the road and continue on this single track lane for a quarter of a mile passing Tump Farm and then as we enter a wooded area either side of a stream we turn right to join the Offa’s Dyke Path.  We have previously walked sections of this path, but not this far north.  At home on my bookshelf are two books about the whole walk, it is one that I am determined to do at some stage.

This section leads down through a valley where trees have recently been felled and soon enters a Bluebell lined path.  It is stunning.  I love walking all year round, but springtime has a special feeling.  It definitely feels like nature is celebrating getting through another winter.

We follow the Offa’s Dyke path as it leads down to the A438 and then turns right to follow alongside it for a few hundred yards before going left across fields.  The view from here of Hay Buff and Lord Hereford’s Knob is a cracker.

Passing Bronydd Farm we enter a field with bears in it to the far side.  It is a big field and they are along way off, we proceed at speed but they are not at all interested in us.  Now we are besides a couple of arable fields that lead to the edge of the River Wye.  This is a river we have walked besides many times in the past, it is beautiful.  Whenever we have walked besides it it has appeared tranquil, but I am sure when in full follow it is a daunting sight.  Today it appears almost still.

We stop just to absorb the peace and beauty of this spot.  It is not so many years ago that at this time of day I would have been crammed on a train heading out of London.  There is a great deal to be said for our new life style.

Our route continues along the Offa’s Dyke Path and soon enters woodland beside the river.  There is a chap working a mini excavator on the path and we wait a few minutes before he becomes aware of our presence.  He stops the machine and we enter into conversation.  Apparently he has recently purchased this stretch of woodland and is trying to make the path more accessible and also clearing much of the bramble and deadwood so that the area is opened out.

It is clear that his motivation is to improve access so that others may enjoy this spot, there are felled tree trunks strategically placed for seats and the work in progress will turn this into a real wildlife haven.  Apparently he is a local and as a youngster used to play on stretches of the river that are no longer accessible, so he wants to enable others to do the same on his bit of land.

It is refreshing to meet someone who wants to open access to land; all too often we encounter obstacles along public routes, where paths are not maintained or gates and stiles are deliberately made difficult to negotiate.  Chaps like this are real stars of the community and it is a pleasure to meet them!  Top Man!

We carry on through the woods bringing us to the B4351 where we turn right and walk back up the hill to Tirmynach Farm CL.

Our little wander has covered just over seven and a half miles, it has been good to get into the countryside, but the best parts of the walk have been the two chance encounters with locals.

22nd April 2017

[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 201 – Knighton & Presteigne.]

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2017)

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