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Walking the Offa's Dyke Path

Day Five: Trial by Gale

A herd of wild ponies

The four intrepid hikers left their farm house accommodation and headed back up the mountain to the Brecon Beacons National Park. This was a 13 mile ridge line walk from Longtown/Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye. Getting up to the ridge took an hour and a half of climbing up steep grass and heather covered hillsides. They had lost sight of the Offa's Dyke path while climbing up to the ridge. However, in what seemed like a bad B grade movie plotline, a herd of wild ponies met them about half way up and seemed to guide them back to the path.

The steep hills and gusty wind had tested them on the previous day. However, this day their trial was by gale force winds. Exposed to the elements they struggled on against the powerful winds. At no time during the three hours of walking did the wind speed drop below 40 miles per hour and often it gusted to 60 miles per hour. In fact, poor Mary was blown over by it, but was fortunately unharmed by the blustery attack.

Brecon Beacons National Park

The air temperature was 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind chill was way below freezing so they were very cold on this part of the hike. It was the hardest walk the troop had ever made. The wind kept them from getting into any kind of walking rhythm. There were many times they all felt almost at the end of their endurance. The wind was constant and at one point Julia was getting really cold. Both Ernest and Mary had to help Julia put on her extra layer while they sheltered behind a small pile of rocks. The wind was so strong it took three people to help her put her fleece on. The path was very rough full of rocks, streams, holes, ruts, and of course mud. They were all extremely glad when the track turned east and down the side of the mountain. This finally gave them a break from the gale force winds. Later, a local told them that these winds were the worst he had ever seen in Wales.

A wind chill was way below freezing

Once back down in the valley they walked through lovely green fields and were soon in Hay-on-Wye sipping cappuccino and eating cakes. The sleepy town of Hay-on-Wye was a welcomed overnight stop. The town is very cute with over 30 book stores, many little shops, an old cinema, and a ramshackle stone castle. The intrepid hikers will never forget this day of trial by gale as it tested them all to their breaking point.

What lies ahead of them next? Will they make it to the mid-way point of their hike? Join me on my next installment of walking the Offa's Dyke Path.


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