We have been walking for 8 days now so half way through the planned walk. However, the last two days will be hard going as they are the longest sections walked in a day. Still, onward and upward as they say, literally in this case.
Day 9: Hay on Wye to Boughrood
We crossed the main road, cut through the churchyard at Llowes, up the steep embankment and through the woods and common before meeting the main road again. With the good weather, we were able to follow a lower riverside section to Boughrood, a beautiful stretch with fascinating colours, flowers, textures especially past the Old Rectory with its odd Heath-Robinson version of a pump in the garden wall. The guide talks about a pub in Boughrood but it is just a house now.
Day 10-11: Boughrood to Builth Wells
Day 10 was very short for a change. We crossed the main road to Trericket Mill – it looked closed but wanted our card stamped so knocked the door. A very pleasant chap made us coffee and biscuits then pointed out the box with the stamp and ink pad nailed to a post for when they are closed – oops! Llanstephan Bridge has rickety old wooden slats and is the oldest bridge in Wales. We then joined an old railway track past the nature reserve to Erwood Station craft centre and the cafe.
From Erwood station the next day, we crossed the main road again and went up the steep lane opposite to Twmpath Common. There are excellent views from up here. We followed the lane for a long time to get to the open land of the next common, grateful for the fine weather, especially as the ‘small pole’ referred to in the guide was hard to find. You would not want to cross the common in poor weather with limited visibility.
We eventually came out from the track to see Builth Wells in the distance with a clear view of the quarry. We felt and heard the blasting and got a great shot of the dust cloud. Had to negotiate yet another ‘sunken lane’ (hard work) after a narrow little path with waist-high grass and weeds.
Day 12-13; Builth Wells to Rhayader (getting closer now!!)
It was a pleasant start to the day walking alongside the river in Builth – very pretty – and on to Newbridge on Wye. No accommodation here so we caught the bus into Llandrindod Wells for the night as planned. Next morning, the bus driver dropped us off at the corner in Newbridge (bless him) making it easier to get back on track. Most of this section was high up on the ridge so we could see for miles. It was mainly road walking and at Llanwrthwl village we sat in the porch of the church for lunch and to rest the feet again – extremely hot and sunny today with little shade.
Day 14: Rhayader to Llangurig – a long 12 miles
It was a steady climb to start, very hot already, through some woodland then a further climb along the lane past a farm. After a rest at the top, we still had to keep climbing through fields and open hillside – but what fantastic views.
The diagonal path down to the Gilfach centre is so steep! The visitor centre was closed, but the Long House (and toilets) was open. We followed the Nature Trail alongside Afon Marteg – what a beautiful river, definitely worth another visit. Following another old railway track, we came out at the A470 (for the umpteenth time) and crossed to the lay-by opposite. The footbridge across the river is a tiny narrow bridge where we met two young women with trekking ponies, coming from Llanidloes.
Day 15: Last Day to Plynlimon 12 miles
Guess what, it starts with another climb to reach the transmitter towers. Directions were a bit confusing across the top ridge, but we found our way through eventually. After the fields, we turned left along the wood to reach a wide stony forestry track – this is where we found the pram. As we passed the old ruined barn, we chatted with another walker who told us about ‘the donkey near Hendre’. The donkey did plonk itself alongside the stile, as he said it would, so we had to lean on it to get over.
Following through woodland closer to the river now, we crossed the A44 for the Sweet Lamb Rally centre. This was all dry, dusty, open track with no shelter on the hottest day (in the 80s).
After a long track through the forest, we followed a stony path following the smaller river downstream. This was very hard underfoot and seemed to go on forever. We finally reached the River Severn, walked 200 yards along one side to get to the bridge to cross it then 200 yards the other side. We were walking the Severn Way now, for at least another 45 minutes, until we reached the boardwalk – there was my husband with a bottle of water and bottle of champagne cooling in the river – wonderful!
The last 2 hours walking were really endurance – very tiring and hard on the feet. We stayed overnight in Llanidloes at the worst B&B in the world – noisy, uncomfortable, with a landlord and his wife screaming at each other until 4am. We were glad to get home after 15 days walking but also proud that we actually did it, together, and everything worked out as planned.
For guided and independent walking holidays, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Ramblers Walking Holidays.