Well, I’ve missed a number of days. Some of that has been fatigue, some of that is because when I’ve written, I’ve been focusing on a scroll text (don’t worry, Violet, if you’re reading this, it’s not for you).
The text is done, and I’m moderately pleased with it. I’m probably being too harsh on it, but this will be one that will be read into a different kingdom’s court, and someone who I greatly admire will hear it and be in a position to critique.
Anyway, back to my progress. I’m in Llangollen, which I’m starting to learn how to pronounce. Thus far, I’ve walked about 80 of a possible 130 miles actually on the Dyke Trail. My goal at this point is to walk 20 miles in the next three days and at least reach 100.
I think last we saw our intrepid hero, he was taking a taxi into Cwm. From Cwm I walked 13 miles or so to Buttington. If it had not been for the rain and wet, this would have been a fairly pleasant walk. It was mostly even, over moors and fields. I was definitely tired, and the last mile or two was a real bitch, but I made it.
The next morning, however, I was supposed to walk the longest stretch, 16.5 miles. I was in no shape to do that, even if most of it was flat. The B&B owner had to drive to Llanymanarch, which was about halfway on the way, so I took advantage of that and only walked 8 miles or so. That put me in Trefonen.
I loved Trefonen. More specifically I loved the Barley Mow, the pub. Well, not just the pub, but the brewery attached to it, Offa’s Dyke Brewery. Their Grim Reaper porter was damn fine. I had a great evening there chatting with people. The owner, Derrick, gave me a tour of the brewery and while it is small, it is impressive. He said it was a shame I had to walk, because they were brewing the next day and I could help and watch.
So that night I made an executive decision and decided to forgo the walk to watch the brewing process. I didn’t watch the whole process, obviously there are parts that take a while, but I watched the making of the mash, and watched while the John the brewer explained every detail of the process, including the incredible amount of paperwork the government requires of him. It was a fascinating couple of hours, and one I won’t forget anytime soon.
However, by the time that was done, there was no way I could make the walk in the time left. Furthermore, at that point I was completely exhausted. I made my way to my B&B in Llangollen via taxi.
One of the drawbacks to walking the Dyke as I have has been the lack of time to really appreciate some of the places I’ve been. Much of the trip has been one foot in front of the other just trying to make it to the next B&B. Llangollen is a perfect example. I’ve actually spent more time in Llangollen than any other town I’ve been to on this trip because I got to Llangollen so early yesterday. However, I was so exhausted I basically spent the day napping and reading. I really cannot even truly appreciate the quality of the room that I’m staying in.
Llangollen has a ton of fascinating stuff. It lies along a steam-powered railway (whose rails are 40 yards down the hill from my room) that does tours around this incredible valley. It lies along a horse-drawn canal (which lies 20 yards uphill, yes uphill, from my room) that does tours along the Dee. There is a medieval abbey a mile and a half or so from my B&B. There is a hillfort that became a castle in the 1300s two miles away. There are all sorts of more modern items of interest around as well. Oh, and did I mention the setting? Llangollen is in one of the prettiest areas I’ve ever seen. The Dee here is just stunning.
But all I really had time and energy for was the medieval abbey, Valle Crucis. It’s definitely worth seeing, and worth the 3-4 miles I walked getting there and back. You’ll see pictures eventually.
I’ve got to come back to the Welsh border, and this time rent a car or plan on rails and buses or whatever. This is wonderful country. Beautiful, nice people, neat places, tons of history, great food and beer, just an awesomely wonderful place. And while I’m making lots of decisions to ease my walking, the fact is that this walk is too tiring to really appreciate the place in the time I’m set up to walk it. Not only that, I’ve skipped past some places I wish I could see, like Tintern Abbey and Chirk Castle.
Perhaps if the weather had been better (it’s literally rained every day I’ve been over here and does not look to change). Perhaps if I’d have simply *planned* to only walk certain portions and arranged to spend a bit more time in places. There are indeed people who walk this path start to finish, but I have not met anyone who is doing it this year. Everyone who I’ve met who is walking the path is doing a portion over a weekend or so, not trying to bite off all of it at once so perhaps I was too ambitious.
I don’t know, but part of this trip is leaving me, not unfulfilled because I’ve succeeded in achieving many of the goals that got me thinking about doing this in the first place, but I guess simply feeling like I have not given this area the attention it is due.
There’s actually an SCA event not too far away being in Richard and Lena’s home group on Saturday. I did bring garb, and I’m contemplating taking another day off if I can figure out the logistics, and going. If this were last time, it wouldn’t be a question, but there’s a part of me feeling obligated to walk the path.
I have three days of walking left. Two of them are in the teeth of the Clwyd range. I’m pretty sure I cannot walk the 14.5 miles I’m scheduled to tomorrow, in part because the first mile or so involves a climb of something like 350 meters of elevation. That’s over 1000 feet. I’m probably going to cheat and have the person that gives me a ride get me up to World’s End, about 3 miles and 300 meters of a head start. I don’t feel much in the way of shame for that by the way, because if you total the number of meters of climb left in the day, it’s nearly 1000, or 3000 feet.
So there are a number of things to mention. I did realize a cognate or loan word in Welsh today. I don’t know why it took me so long, but one of their words for road is “ffordd,” and that gets modified to “ffyrdd” when meaning routes. Yes, there’s a connection. The word “fyrd” actually has roots in the word “faran,” which in modern English is “to fare,” meaning to travel. “Fyrd,” as a word, came from the idea of the people that traveled with a lord, presumably to battle. I don’t know whether old Germanic languages borrowed from old Celtic languages in this case, but there’s definitely a connection.
I’m also struck by how many Latin cognates and borrowed words there are in Welsh. Green, in Welsh, is “werdd.” Contrast this with “vert,” and the connection is obvious. For some reason, I never realized that Welsh borrowed so much from Latin or Latin-based languages. I wonder if that happened during Norman times or if it’s ancient when the Celts sort of passed near Italy in their migrations.
Everything in Wales in bi-lingual in Welsh and English, and it’s the kind of thing that if I spent a year or two here, I’d become pretty fluent. Maybe I can get a teaching job or something 🙂
Another note has to do with this tablet. In many ways, this tablet is brilliant. I really enjoy its media abilities and its touchscreen capabilities are smooth. If it hasn’t already become one, it will be a fixture in my life. However, it’s very frustrating at time simply because what I think as normal features don’t exist here. If you’re used to using the shift key and arrows to highlight text, using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V, and doing that instinctively as I do from two decades of typing in Word and other programs, you’re going to be at least a little frustrated. I’ve looked for apps to add that feature, but not found one yet. It’s always the little stuff, right?
OK, that’s probably enough for now. I’m going to head back to the barn and get as much rest as possible for a looooooong tough day.