A really nice experience, the route follows ancient trackways and drovers roads, mostly high above the valley bottoms where the marshes or toll roads would have been, many years ago. I followed the path of Mary Jones, the girl who saved for six years to buy a book and walked 28 barefoot miles to the seller. Thinking about her life back then, her experiences, the most I could do was stare at the view and imagine what wasn't there.
I've done well with my own body too, not the level of Mary herself, 28 barefoot miles overnight. No, it took me three days. But that's good, for me. I've managed sixty miles in the last five days, av 12 miles a day which, for me, is flying. My body feels full of power, my legs are strong with muscle, it's just my feet that hold me back, my poor strained plantar tendons, so overstretched they're ripping away from the bone. I do what I can, I have a rhythym, walk, rest, walk, rest, boots off, rub feet, walk, rest, walk, rest, boots off, rub feet, sleep. That's pretty much my day, every day I'm walking.
I arrived in Bryncrug yesterday, soaking wet, sodden from a surprise rain storm. It wasn't really a surprise, I was just too lazy to put my waterprooof trousers on, as usual, so got soaking wet, as usual. I'm no kind of survivalist. I'd spent the previous night in a barn, no shelter out on the open moorland and I didn't fancy crawling into a soggy, windblown tent so I found the shelter of a wooden bench in a quiet barn. Remove the sack of lime and the empty sheep drench tin and bingo, there's my bed for the night. The farmer came in at dusk. "I'm sorry", I said. "No problem", he said, more concerned about the dead lamb in the pen in the corner. The mother ran out, I saw her the next morning, head drooping, limping. Do sheep grieve?
I meant to camp, in the wet again but there was Sarah again, five miles away, over the hill. "I'll pick you up", she said, like the big hearted nurturer she is. No signal until Bryncrug but there she was, "yeah, no worries love, I'll be there in half an hour". I had a bath, rubbed my feet, bedded down on her sofa.
Today, Aberdyfi. Sarah took my bag ahead so I could walk freely, down along the beach, sun reddening my face, sand soft under my boots, treating myself to a cream tea when I reached my destination. Now I'm in a holiday apartment, thanks to Paul at The Old Stables. It's lush, it's luxurious and it's all mine for the night. What generosity, from so many people I meet.
I'll have a couple of days of beaches, walking to Borth and then it's back to Aberdyfi again to start the Dyfi Valley Way - up one side of the Dyfi valley to the source of the river north of Dinas Mawddwy and back the other side. This is my home valley so I'm looking forward to bettering the knowledge of my own land, plus the chance to catch up with long neglected friendships.