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Hay-on-Wye to Kington

Saturday 8th July 2006

Walked 16.5 miles, virtually all on Offa's Dyke Path

Fernleigh was a slightly old-fashioned B&B (with 'instructions', with some interesting spellings, in picture frames in our rooms, including one that we were to ask before having a bath) but Mr and Mrs Hughes were friendly, and we had a lovely breakfast before leaving about 8.50am.
We then spent almost an hour in Hay-on-Wye, doing battle with the fact that the food shops don't open until late. It's a funny place, but we got everything that we wanted in the end. We left Hay by crossing the river and then turning right along the river bank. It was almost perfect walking weather - overcast with occasional bursts of sunshine, and we saw red kites several times during the day. The rainclouds didn't deposit their load until the evening.

We walked by the river for a couple of kilometres, then crossed farmland (including going right through the middle of a field of barley at one stage, but the signs made it clear that this was what we were meant to do). Then we climbed up to the A438 and walked alongside it for a while, on a wide grass verge)
with superb views to the River Wye and the Black Mountains beyond.

We crossed the main road and climbed up Bettws Dingle, herding some sheep in front of us, then we followed a minor road for a while; surprisingly pleasant, with excellent views in all directions, and we met a couple walking the other way.

We turned off onto a muddy track and then followed paths down to Newchurch, with views along the valley to Llan-pica.
We had lunch sitting in a bench in Newchurch, being watched by sheep in the churchyard and with a very friendly dog for company.

After lunch we climbed over Disgwylfa Hill, rightly described as 'a pocket-size version of Hergest Ridge a little further north'. We met a group of runners coming in the opposite direction - they must be mad! It was beautiful though, with lovely views back to the Black Mountains and in front of us to Hergest Ridge. We crossed undulating countryside and descended into Gladestry, hoping that either 'The Royal Oak' or the village shop would be able to supply a cup of tea or an ice-cream.
However it was just after 3pm by the time we got there and the shop was firmly closed and the pub was just closing. So we had to make do with another well-placed bench and a drink of water, whilst admiring the 'neat' (one of the guidebook's favourite words) village school.

The climb up to Hergest Ridge was not as difficult as I'd expected and the walk along the ridge was relatively easy with yet more views, especially of our previous days' walks (the length of Hatterall Hill was clearly visible) and of the walking we'd be doing tomorrow.
We remembered the monkey puzzle plantation from when we were here in 2002. There were a few other people about, but not too many, especially given that it was a Saturday afternoon.

Our feet were hurting by the time we reached the end of the long stretch of road down to Kington, but the good news was that the Spar Shop opens at 8am on a Sunday so we should be able to get food for tomorrow. We walked through the town and down Bridge Street to Tanyard Lane and found Tan House easily - it's for sale (and in 2008 it was renamed Arrowbank Lodge). We had two very comfortable rooms. We didn't want to eat in a pub because we wanted to avoid the World Cup Final (which we later discovered was the following day!), and the Chinese restaurant looked a bit odd, so we ended up with fish and chips for our evening meal.

Following day