My mood got better as I walked up Cader Idris. Maybe it was the place I slept the night before, a small copse of beech trees next to a track leading to an isolated farmhouse with a beautiful, well kept garden, box hedges and hollyhocks. I hadn't meant to sleep there, it was still a couple of hours too early to stop but the cropped bouncy grass in the flat spaces between trees was just too inviting. A farmer went past me on a quad bike, two sharp eyed, slinking dogs riding the back of it. He didn't notice me at first but, at the last minute, caught sight of me out of the side of his vision. "You look exhausted" were his first words to me, it must have been the way my body slumped against the low stone wall, sheltering from the breeze whipping over it. "I am" I said, smiling. He drove away after a few friendly words and I decided to settle there, against the wall, perhaps it was a day I didn't need to push myself any more. It was the night of the big thunderstorms over the south of the country but I heard nothing more than a faraway rumble and felt just a few tiny spots of rain, safe in my cocoon.
Cader Idris was better, the next day. It still seemed like an endless climb at first, as I came to the place where I was supposed to leave the road and start clambering up the steep, boggy side, towering above me. I looked at it, far away from the marked paths and decided to take a road detour around to the Pony Path, a much better used and well marked route up to the summit.
And there the story will end I'm afraid. It just seems too much at the moment, this blogging business. Time was, a few months ago, when I'd walk all day, come to a pub or cafe at about 4 or 5pm and be able to sit and write for a few hours, getting out all the little details of the day. Now the walk seems to take longer, I stop more often and it takes longer to complete the distance, there's no time to stop and write.
On the days I do stop I want to stop, properly, not spend the day thinking about all the things I've been doing, I want to switch off.
So that's what I've done today; as my good friend rushed around with her children I put oil onto my dry leather boots, made cups of tea, ate Welsh cakes and kind of looked at Facebook and dozed (I couldn't work out how to switch the TV on, otherwise there would have been lots of that too).
I wanted to tell you about how things have got better recently; how my mood lifted as I climbed Cader Idris and has stayed high ever since. As the terrain got easier I could see what I'd come through and could understand that maybe I was suffering because it was hard, not because I was weak and rubbish. I've also walked into the area where friends are, first to Jackie in Dinas Mawddwy, then to Annie in Commin's Coch, on to Heloise in Llanidloes, just a short hitch away then Anna near Tregaron where I am now. Next will come Alys in Tregaron and then I'll be back to strangers and wild camping again, my little area of morale boosting friends will have passed behind me. But it's been great while it lasted. I also had the brilliant Hannah from Aberystwyth come out to walk with me for two day, someone I've only met quite recently but I definitely Like. She's a fellow adventurer and we tramped together over Plynlimon in the grey cloud and drizzle. It was my first day of walking and then camping in proper rain in months and I was very glad to have her there to lift my spirits. I do get scared of what's ahead sometimes and facing it for the first time alone might have been a miserable experience. I did have a small grump but she passed me pieces of pork pie and swigs of brandy so things got better by themselves.
Tomorrow I'm going to carry on again, after a short break. First I went down to Cardiff to speak to a WI group, they were all very attentive and interested in my story which felt good, I planned to come back to Aberystwyth, get picked up and taken back to my walking point to start again today but felt groggy and unwilling this morning. When Anna offered her house for another day, it didn't take much for me to say Yes where normally I'd heroically carry on. I'll start again tomorrow, with clean kit, freshly oiled boots and a lighter heart. Tomorrow I walk across the moor towards Llyn Teifi and I'll stay in a little bothy on the way. Then to Tregaron and onwards, heading down to Cardiff, by way of the Brecon Beacons. Are they difficult? I'm not sure.