I set off across the hills from Llanfihangel Nant Melan over towards Hay-on -Wye. A high steep climb behind some farm buildings over to a mix of moorland and forestry. I got lost within half a mile and it started to rain, not a great beginning to the day. I decided to stop for lunch (cunningly lightening the load still further); oily potatoes and bacon out of a vaccum packed silver bag, sitting on moss with pine fronds tickling my neck and the rain drizzling onto the path. I wiped my fork on the moss, then on my leggings and cracked on in the rain. It would have been a glorious landscape to walk through, high pasture and moorland, with lakes and sheep and tiny isolated houses, small wind turbines whirling. As it was I only saw glimpses of this through rain studded spectacles as I walked as fast as I could, the bridleway stretching out ahead of me, curling around a hillside. I passed another derelict farmhouse, this one a three storey Victorian building with a huge elder bush flooding the front of the house, reaching almost to the roof - so many options for places to dream about my lottery funded future life. Once again, as usual on the route I'm following, I saw almost no-one all day. Just a family of farmers, shearing in a barn. I came off the hillside and down onto a backroad. I needed to get out of the rain for a bit so I decided to stop in the next barn for half an hour; just my luck it had people in it! I asked if I could shelter for a bit and they didn't mind, even made me a cup of tea! We didn't talk much as they were busy.
I came down into Newchurch at about 5pm, a place I remember from the Offa's Dyke, it has about 15 houses and a small church where they lay out drinks and biscuits for walkers, according to a tradition started in the time of Charles II. I sat there for several hours, drying out and rehydrating, as the rain fell outside. 7pm came and went, nobody came to lock up the church. 8pm passed and I hadn't seen anyone. I might sleep in here, I thought, not looking forward to the thought of a soggy bed outside. 9pm passed, still no-one. So I made my bed in the aisle. I felt slightly nervous until I laid down and sleepy feelings took over. I looked at the ceiling and thought about the size of the building, all this space so underused. So many wishes spiraling up into the rafters every week.
Today I absolutely stormed the 7 miles into Hay-on-Wye. A nice lady came in to clean the church at 7.30am, making me very glad I was already up and packed! I don't think she would have minded anyway but it was good to get out walking by 8. I made it to Hay by 11, brilliant. The Offa's Dyke Path is great for fast walking - I saw plenty of other walkers coming my way too.
I saw the Black Mountains again, where I'm heading over this afternoon. It feels slightly less awesome to look across the landscape and think that I walked that 3 months ago, is this becoming mundane? Is everything finally blurring into one long walk? I accidentally deleted about 200 photos last night, trying to make space on my phone. I'm trying not to be disappointeed about it but I do worry, when this is over, will I remember anything? Or will it just be a long year of walking, like days in an office that all become the same.
I'm in a cafe for now, doing a bit of internet. I've washed my socks in the sink, blagged a free bit of cheesecake and my shoes are on the windowsill drying out. One bit of bad news is that the shoe shop has run out of the shoes I'm using, something to do with a change of seasons. It means I'll have to buy them online, meaning an annoying bit of organisation to work out where I can get them sent ahead. In the meantime the soles are coming off my existing pair. I really should have a new pair already and would have done if the shoe shop hadn't run out. So I've bought some glue and I'm going to go for a temporary fix while I try and sort out a delivery address. The shoes haven't done badly, almost 800 miles walked so far.
The final bit of news is that my counter has ticked over to.........1000 miles!!!!!!!!!
It feels good, it feels official. As if I am definitely doing a long distance walk now. Even though I'm overweight, even though I didn't train, even though I'm carrying too much in my pack, even though I hurt my foot, I can still walk 1000 miles....just because I'm stubborn and determined. It's feels fucking great. I am definitely doing this, if it all goes wrong next week I'll still have walked 1000 miles and that is enough to be proud of. I may be walking an entire year but I am going to walk 3000 miles. Fuck. Yeah.