Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The weather in north east Wales has been pretty grim recently; much of what you’d expect mid-winter really…..but still hard to deal with LOL We’ve been pelted with rain, sleet, hail and even snow on the crest of the Berwyn’s. The problem with the rain is that it’s a bit like the April showers you get in Ireland…it showers down, clears, you get excited and think okay I can get out now, and by the time you put your shoes on, it starts raining again. I’ve given up and decided just to get on with planning my September pilgrimages. and writing this blog.

Even though I haven’t been out much, I have managed to slip in a couple of walks, one of which caught me out; the skies had cleared, bright blue so I quickly put my shoes on, grabbed my poles and set off. Whilst stopped at the post office for envelopes it started to rain again URGH!! So cutting the walk short, instead I popped into St Nicholas Church; always worth a visit.

st nicholas church montgomery, welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales from October 2017

A Grade 1 listed 13th century (circa 1227) Norman Church with additions from the 15th and 19th centuries, the church contains an example of a pre-reformation rood screen brought from Chirbury Priory together with the rood-loft and the stalls with their misericords after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

st nicholas church montgomery, welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

Pre-reformation Rood screen St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

Within the church is the ornate tomb of Richard Herbert (d. 1593). Herbert was the lord of Montgomery Castle, and father of the poet and cleric George Herbert. Also buried here is Richard, 2nd Baron of Chirbury, who died in 1655, the last of the Herbert family to live at the castle. The tomb is rather extravagant as they mostly were and the effigies are ornate and quite lifelike, the features of the encumbents clearly detailed.

st nicholas church montgomery, welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

Memorial tomb of Richard Herbert and wife at St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

At the foot of the tomb are the effigies of 2 knights. Quite marvellous. I haven’t been able to find much information about these effigies.

st nicholas church montgomery, welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

Knight effigies in St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

The stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful. I love visiting old churches, they contain ever so much history.

The 2nd walk I manage to get in without getting too wet was just before the new band of weather hit us. I was intent on reaching the castle but on impulse I decided to walk up to the War Memorial on Town Hill that I had been urged to go and see…apparently the views from there are stupendous.

welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

half way up; fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking east towards Shropshire

So turning off the road I slipped through the kissing gate just before the castle entrance and headed up the steep incline , steps provided by knotted tree roots and stones. Thankfully this was before the rain, but even so the ground was muddy and mucky and my shoes squelched noisily as I plodded uphill. I finally reached the road (muddy track) that takes you right to the top of the hill…elevation 1050 feet above sea-level, as I discovered when I got there. I walked and walked for ages, not having realised just how far it was from the road….funny how folks don’t tend to tell you those kind of details….”Oh, it’s just up the hill from the castle”. Hmmm. As I climbed and climbed two ladies jogged past…I was astounded…the slope was very steep and the ground totally squelchy. How do they not slip and fall. I just take my eye off the ground for a second and I’m over. As always I was ever so grateful for my walking poles. The description on the website I located says:

  • Going: Medium difficulty. Climbs steeply to a high local hilltop. Slippy in damp conditions.

Noooo kidding!!!! After 15 minutes of climbing, by which stage I was beginning to get out of breath, I finally saw the monument.

welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and an ordnance survey triangulation station

It’s enormous and wayyyyy bigger than I anticipated. But finally I was there, and the views were as spectacular as I had been told. There’s a viewpoint stone with a disc on the top and directional markings showing where and how far places are from that point. It reminded me of the marker I saw on the Malverns I climbed …oh gosh…..ages ago.

welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and distance marker – 1050 feet above sea-level

Although the weather was overcast and cloudy I could still see for miles and miles. The distant mountain peaks various shades of blue and grey, as they disappeared into the distance, the hovering clouds tinged pink by the setting sun.

welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking west

From down the valley I could hear sheep bleating and the occasional roar of a car rushing by on the Kerry Road. Thankfully I didn’t meet any cows. It was fairly breezy and with scant vegetation or trees to break the flow of wind it got quite blustery, but not so much that it spoilt my visit. The crest of the hill is bereft of much else besides a massive expanse of grass and a couple of small stands of wind-blown trees.

The memorial is quite enormous and I wonder why they felt the need to plant it so high up. I’m sure it must be visible from miles away. The neighbour across the road very kindly showed me a newspaper cutting of the unveiling on 23.04.23….it’s been up there for 95 years,can you imagine that!!! Weirdly my birth day and month (but not year…. DUH!!)

War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales, welsh countryside, war memorial montgomery, places to see in wales,

War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales,

Apparently it’s made of Portland stone and was transported to Montgomery by train and then taken up to the crest by horse cart. My heart aches for the poor horses…that stone is big and heavy. It’s also quite weird to look at the photo and realise that all the people in the image are dead by now. We are all so transient and yet these memorials we raise are still there and last way longer than we do. You have to be dead to be remembered.

There are not many more trees now than then. In all I walked 4.09 kms/2.56  miles with an elevation gain of 139 meters…

I look forward to the weather clearing a bit before I leave next week…I’d like to walk another section of Offa’s Dyke and possibly walk as far as the river – which I still haven’t seen.

For more about Montgomery’s War Memorial, I located this website which offers further information on how to get there and what you can see.

 

Yesterday’s Camino 2018 practice walk took me up to Montgomery Castle. I hadn’t been up for a fair while; snow and frost. Well mostly frost, since the snow was so last year 😉 and I have actually been up once since I arrived here on the 3rd…

I’m trying to get in at least an hour of walking every day now. I remember training most days for at least 2 hours over 18 month for my previous Camino, but I’m hoping some of that fitness still lingers and that 9 months of training will be sufficient this year. It’s not a far distance, but it is all uphill and that final stretch sure stretches my lungs LOL My legs too complain loudly by the time I reach the ridge.

Although not as substantial as some of the castles we get in Wales and the rest of the UK, Montgomery Castle is stupendous, albeit just ruins and a fraction of what it used to be. I love the history attached and wish the walls could talk. The English considered it to be the Key to the Kingdom; the kingdom being Wales, since the border with England (Shropshire) is just a stones throw away and easily accessible with a fair walk.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

Built more as a defensive position than a luxurious palace, it played a key role in many turning point dates in the history of the UK…from Offa’s day till the 17th century, when in 1643 the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary troops in the Civil war by Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirchury.

map my walk, montgomery castle powys wales, castles of the uk, castle ruins, welsh castles, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, walks in the uk, country walking,

The Battle of Montgomery 1644 – map my walk

Originally a motte and bailey (a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard or bailey), it was eventually rebuilt in stone. Rebuilding commenced in the late summer of 1223; the 16th birthday of Henry III of England. The castle was eventually reduced to a backwater prison and later demolished by order of Parliament.

montgomery castle powys wales, castles of the uk, castle ruins, welsh castles, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, walks in the uk, country walking,

Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

montgomery castle powys wales, castles of the uk, castle ruins, welsh castles, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, walks in the uk, country walking,

Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; the ruined gatehouse to the inner ward seen from the south

montgomery castle powys wales, castles of the uk, castle ruins, welsh castles, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, walks in the uk, country walking,

Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; imposing walls built of stone

One of my favourite things to do when I get up to the castle is to sit on the ruined walls and just enjoy the quiet and the stupendous views. I can clearly see Offa’s Dyke from there as well as the Berwyns (range of Welsh Mountains). I believe there are number of Roman camps and mottes dotted about the country and it’s really frustrating to not be able to get to see them. I shall have to include a visit to this area when I have my motor home. A misty kind of day, in the distance you can see the promised cold front approaching.

montgomery castle powys wales, castles of the uk, castle ruins, welsh castles, walk 1000 miles, travel diaries, walks in the uk, country walking,

fantastic views across Wales and Shropshire from Montgomery Castle

Before leaving I took a walk right around the perimeter of the castle – looking up at the rocks on which the castle is built I am awed at the workmanship that went into this imposing edifice.

Distance walked: 1.86 miles (2.98 kms) – not much as far as distance goes and certainly not anywhere near the distances I covered during my breaks last year, but it’s building. At the moment I have quite a few projects I’m working on so have to split my 2 hour break between walking and working 🙂

 

 

 

After completing my first Camino de Santiago in September 2017, I realised that the camino ‘bug’ had well and truly bitten…..at the time I was sorely tempted to cancel my flight and head off to start another route instead of returning home…. I didn’t of course but oh my, how I would have loved to be able to do just that. Prior to this, as mentioned in my previous blog I had completed 2 ‘caminos’ in the UK; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark to Canterbury and The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury…both of which I can highly recommend, although be warned the Chaucer route is mostly now on busy traffic routes, so not as scenic or tranquil as the St Augustine route which is mainly through fields and alongside rivers, and taking in quaint English villages till you reach the outskirts of Canterbury.

the way of st augustine

Fordwich; a Domesday Book village on the Way of St Augustine. The Town Hall is awesome! loved the houses

Camino meaning: way, path, journey, good way.

I love walking (also mentioned before 😉 ), and although I’m not in any way religious, the idea of ‘pilgrimage’ appeals to me greatly. I’m happy to take random training walks, especially when I’m working and have limited time, but there is nothing quite like having a specific destination in mind. There are hundreds of fantastic walks in the UK and I plan to walk as many of them as possible, but it’s the long-distance pilgrimages/walks that appeal to me most. I love the idea of the routes linked to saints….they all have a fascinating link with history and since I find the history of the UK absolutely fascinating 😉 these are the routes I’ll focus on first.

Since I’ve decided to walk at least 1 new route of the Camino de Santiago every year for the next 6 years (or more). Researching the different routes has been fascinating. My planned route for September 2018 is the Camino Inglés, frequented by pilgrims from northern Europe, Ireland and the UK as a short easy route to Santiago. I’m also planning to do at least 1 long-distance pilgrimage/walk in the UK each year. So since there is a link between the UK and the Camino Inglés, I’ve decided to precede that walk by following the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury…many roads lead to Canterbury 😉

Winchester

Winchester

The Camino Inglés. “Sometimes called in Spanish the Antiguo Camino Real, the Camino Inglés provided a short, direct route from Ferrol or A Coruña to Santiago and was therefore used by pilgrims of various nationalities from northern Europe, who had travelled to Galicia by sea”. Ref Confraternity of St James

The Pilgrims’ Way is the historical route taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire, to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

To that end, planning my pilgrimage has begun. Google has as always been a trove of information and I found this fantastic website; pilgrims way uk, that not only gives you lots of information about the route, but has a fantastic map highlighting accommodation options, restaurants and shops, points of interest like memorials, historical sites/ruins, monuments and statues and points of interest, but most importantly it highlights churches along the way where you can get your passport stamped. This is VIP!!

canterbury cathedral way of st augustine

Finally through the city walls and so to Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

From there I’ll leave the next day for A Coruña in Spain and make my way to Ferrol for the start of the Camino Inglés to Santiago de Compostela. I had planned on taking the ferry from Plymouth where they have a ‘pilgrims start’ to Santander and then make my way to Ferrol over a few days, but when I did the pricing it was over £300 for the trip…so that’s off the list….I guess I’ll just have to stick with flying. A shame really as I wanted to make the trip as authentic as possible.

pilgrimage to santiago de compostela, the way of st james,

the body of James being taken by sea to Padron in Galicia Spain before being taken to Santiago

It has been widely accepted that over the centuries ‘the way’, whether here in the UK or indeed even in Europe, has undergone numerous alterations, diversions and even obliteration, depending on the era and which king was on the throne…think Henry VIII who was incredibly destructive. So in effect there is no ‘absolutely real’ pilgrim’s way, but rather an extension or addition of routes that over time have become ‘the way’.  There are of course the ‘purists’ who are hell bent on ‘proving’ that one way or the other is the ‘correct way’ but even they, the learned scholars of pilgrimage, cannot agree on which was the ‘original’ way…regardless of the route (someone I knew from a few years ago springs to mind….his arrogance in his ‘certainty’ of the real route was breathtaking…in fact I cut him out of my life due to his bullishness. And he wasn’t even an expert but rather someone who dabbled in the history). Even as I write, the Camino Inglés has undergone a reroute to accommodate the pilgrims who don’t want to follow the previous route over some mountains on day 2…because they have to exert themselves. So ‘the way’ is really dependent on which country you’re in, where you start and your intentions whilst walking. In centuries past, most pilgrims, especially in Europe simply stepped out their front doors and walked to Santiago. When I walked my Camino in September 2017 I followed the Portugues route as marked by the yellow arrows and markers, but since much of the way in Portugal, from Porto to Caminha, is now along recently built boardwalks above the beach, you can be sure that was not the original way.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Keep the ocean on your left and head north…

The Pilgrims’ Way is the historic route apparently taken by pilgrims from Winchester to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. The route closely follows a pre-existing ancient track-way generally dated by archaeological finds to around 500–450 BC. The prehistoric route followed a “natural causeway” east to west on the southern slopes of the North Downs, probably in existence since the stone age.

along the pilgrims way north downs

along the Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs near Oxted

I loved my Camino, I enjoyed every single day despite the pain and exhaustion I endured on some days, but in all honesty, planning the walk is the part I most enjoy. The research unearths some fascinating and often surprising information and of course anything to do with the Roman and earlier eras piques my interest no end and I end up following links across the internet…it’s almost a journey of its own. The frustrating aspect of this research is that I am not able to follow through on much of what I learn and have to bypass the places I discover. If not, I’d be walking forever….the history linked to the various routes is extraordinary, and I’m hard put to not get too enthusiastic about following links. I also get really frustrated because of course I’d like to see it all….but time does not allow.

I was sorting through my possessions in December, in the process of downsizing, and found a book; The Pilgrim’s Way – Nellie Kirkham (published 1948), that I acquired somewhere along the way (sorry for the pun 😉 ). I immediately started reading it and was soon totally absorbed, my desire to walk the route now becoming urgent rather than just a desire.  So many fascinating places to see enroute. I wonder how much will have changed since she walked.

After I discovered the Pilgrim’s Way UK website, I immediately set about planning my days. There are so many amazing places and points of interest. Although I’ve been to both Winchester and Guildford a couple of times, I’m pretty keen to explore them again in my capacity of a pilgrim….I’ll have to try find out more about places that pilgrim’s of old would have known….like the castle ruins in Guildford and of course the cathedral in Winchester…which by the way is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever thinking of heading that way.

Meanwhile the route planning continues and next on the list is packing for pilgrimage in the UK, and the route in Spain.

Here are a couple of websites you may find interesting.

http://www.pilgrimswaycanterbury.org/history-of-the-pilgrims-way/

https://www.csj.org.uk/planning-your-pilgrimage/routes-to-santiago/routes-in-spain/the-camino-ingles/

Have you walked any of the Camino routes or pilgrimage routes in the UK? I’d love to hear from you; if you have, please do leave a comment. 🙂

In case you missed the Camino 2017 blog posts; the start of my camino Porto to Vila do Conde

 

Offa’s muddy Dyke

After a number of overcast, wintry days, yesterday dawned bright and sunny and no frost… Perfect for an adventure. Our neighbour loaned me his map of the Montgomery area showing various walks (yellow publications), and suggested a local walk that would take in a section of Offa’s Dyke; (Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from 757 until his death in July 796 – had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea). This border between Wales and England was built to prevent the Welsh from infiltrating the country. Not sure why they thought it was a good idea, but on closer research it may well have been a defensive wall.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

can’t complain about that view

Kitted out with shoes and poles I set off with determination. To reach the section where I planned to walk was a fair trot from the village and my initial terrain was a good solid tarmac road. The route goes through Lymore Park and farmland. All went well, I passed the Lower Pond and a farm, crossing multiple cattle grids and eventually reached the border between Montgomeryshire and Shropshire where I encountered #4 cattle grid (urgh, they are horrible to walk across), and a field of dozy sheep. They are such silly creatures.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

dozy sheep. Offa’s Dyke path

Starting off along the path, I was sceptical as to how good an idea this was going to be…the path was a slushy, muddy morass…mostly churned up by previous walkers and a few horses, and I considered retracing my steps and leaving it for another day. But my philosophy in life is: do it while you are here, it may be the only opportunity you have.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

along the dyke….the walking was not pleasant…although the scenery was lovely

So with that in mind, I started walking along the path… Mud, mud not so glorious mud. Slushy, mushy, slimy, grimy mud. The first 3 sections were just bloody awful and I spent a lot of time trying to find stable spots to place my shoes without slipping or getting too dirty. Sloshing through craftily hidden pooled water, standing on tussocks that were not as stable as they looked, slipping and sliding as I attempted to get from one spot to another and accompanied with lots of laughter, cussing and wtf am I doing, I later forded a small rushing stream; a very tricky section that was a sheer, unadulterated quagmire. Creeping gingerly beneath overhanging branches, my poles planted firmly before advancing, I made it safely and relatively dry, albeit a tad more muddy, across the wee bridge, but after walking some distance further I realised /discovered I’d gone off course, so had to back-track and ford the stream once again. OMG!! Seriously.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

this is where I went wrong…

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

going back….fording a stream…the ground on the other side of the stile was a quagmire

I didn’t escape unscathed this time around. After crossing back over the bridge and stile, I surveyed the immediate terrain and spotted what looked like a stable spot. Alas it was not so…instead, as I trod down my foot sank ankle deep into mud that sucked at my shoe, reluctant to let it go 😱😱  After a bit of a tussle, hanging onto my walking poles for dear life trying to stay upright, I won….The mud finally released my shoe with a sucky slurk. However my shoe was now completely covered in thick mucky mud.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

I won the tussle 🙂

Onwards…. I found the track once again (thank you mapmywalk), and from thereon the terrain was fairly stable and a lot less muddy albeit still churned up in places..and those hidden pools. Sigh.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

Offa’s Dyke as I thought it would be….how gorgeous is that stream

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

Offa’s Dyke; now that’s more like it

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

Offa’s Dyke – a long distance walk on the border between England and Wales

6.53 kms and 1.55 hours later and my shoes and walking pants were in the washing machine. 🤔🤔🤔🤔 That was a quite insane walk.

walk offas dyke wales, a walk along offas dyke, long distance walks in wales, long distance walks in the uk, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, walk 1000 miles, country walking, travel diaries, montgomery wales

map my walk

Well worth it though, the countryside here is astoundingly beautiful. As with most of the UK, Wales and the bordering English county of Shropshire are stunning. Much of the land here is given over to farming and raising sheep or horses. Dotted across green fields are huge trees, now bereft of their summer greenery, but nonetheless absolutely stunning. I actually prefer to see trees without their leaves; far more interesting.

And as weird and exhausting as it was, I felt it was good practice for any UK walks I have planned… It rains a lot in this country (duh!! who’d have guessed?) and there’s no way I’ll enjoy the kind of weather I had in Portugal and Spain in September 2017.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

It’s given me pause for thought in terms of my shoes. I may/will have to invest in something more hardy. I was just glad I didn’t have my backpack on when my shoe got stuck in the mud… That could have caused a different outcome in my tussle for possession. and once again I had occasion to be thankful for my walking poles. Truly, I will never walk any long distances without them ever again. They have saved my ass so many times; on the Camino and certainly on the many walks I have undertaken in the UK; my Canterbury Tales & Way of St Augustine

More about Offa’s Dyke: ref wikipedia

Offa’s Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa) is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet (20 m) wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet (2.4 m) high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a scheduled monument. Some of its route is followed by the Offa’s Dyke Path; a 176-mile (283 km) long-distance footpath that runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south.

scheduled monument is a “nationally important” archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post I didn’t get out till 3rd January to start my #walk1000miles challenge for 2018. Mostly due to the mooky weather. I’ve been in North East Wales since the evening of the 3rd and yesterday was only the 2nd day I’ve managed to get a decent walk in.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

a mooky day

The day dawned bright, clear and stunningly beautiful. We have the most amazing view from the barn across the fields and valleys to the Berwyns and as usual I was enchanted by the colours of the sunrise. We had a thick covering of frost in the morning and because the village is in a groove between the mountain and the hill the sun doesn’t really make much of an impact as how it’s so far back on it’s winter trajectory.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

a frosty day

I started out at 2pm during my break time and initially I had planned to walk up to the castle but at the point where the road curves up the hill and becomes really steep, I had barely made 6 steps up the road when I started to slide back downhill. Thankfully I had my walking poles or I would have fallen over for sure. I then decided to go downhill along a more traffic frequented road and made my way across the fields using a shortcut utilised by horse riders, joggers and walkers alike and to my delight I happened upon the lake; Lower Pool, that I had seen from the castle so many times.  I initially thought it was the River Severn but on closer inspection using Google maps I saw it was merely a lake, albeit a rather large one.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

Lower Pool, Montgomery

It was truly beautiful and a bevy of swans have made their home on a wee island in the middle…..too far for photos but I could see them quite easily.

The ground was totally sodden and before long my feet started to get wet so I headed back to the road where I met a lovely lady by the name of Suzanne. We chatted all the way back to the village and swapped walking stories. I told her about my 3 pilgrimages and she was inspired to learn more about the Camino 🙂

I slipped a fair number of times heading back through the village. I had wanted to reach the crest of the hill on the other side of the village I had seen from the castle.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

view from the Kerry Road – in the distance is Corndon Hill

Again I slipped and slid most alarmingly and again my poles saved the day. I can assure you that I will never walk any distances again without them. I was though really puzzled as to why I was slipping about so much. When I got home I checked the bottom of my walking shoes and noticed that the treads  have worn down substantially, so it was no wonder I spent a lot of time slipping and sliding on the roads…thankfully I had my walking poles which averted any tumbles, but it was most unpleasant…although the weather was wonderful.

I have another 2.5 weeks here in Wales so I must try to get to the river at least once. The other walk I mentioned was the day after I arrived….the morning was muggy and dismal but by 2pm it had cleared up quite a lot so I set off for my favourite place; Montgomery Castle. The view from there is quite sumptuous; right across the valley of the River Camlad (forms part of the border between Wales and England in places) and Montgomery Ford, a vital crossing of the River Severn towards the Berwyn Mountains. Known as the ‘The Key to the Kingdom’, a Norman castle, Montgomery Castle was built at the order of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime between 1071 and 1074.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

As with most castles in Britain it underwent a number of changes and changed hands a number of times and was substantially developed during the reign of Henry III. In 1227 Montgomery was granted a Royal Charter by the king, making it the oldest borough in Wales. I love to sit on the walls and visualise the deer hunting that must have taken place in the surrounding forests and the sight of soldiers marching across the valley.

It was very windy that day and I was hard put to remain stead on my feet whilst positing myself on the walls to take photos. I’m surprised they weren’t all blurred. I eventually gave up and staggered downhill with a blustery wind at my back. Reminded me a bit of my walk along the beaches on the Isle of Thanet the day before.

On the way back to the house I called in at the Dragon Hotel (must stay there sometime) and enquired about the swimming pool. It seems we can book an hour for £3.50. Hmmm. Glad I brought my swimsuit. I just loved the wee cottages leaning up against the hotel.

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

the Dragon Hotel, Montgomery, Wales

As I meandered through the graveyard I spotted a gorgeous rainbow emanating from within the castle walls and touching ground in the valley below….

if I could just get there in time I may have found that pot of gold they’re always talking about!!! LOL

montgomery castle, montogomery, key to the kingdom, castle of the uk, welsh castles, travel diaries, walk 1000 miles, castles in wales,

oh to be free to walk and walk and walk

Walked 01.01.2018 – 07.01.2018 : 12.88 kms / Miles 8.05 – 991.95 miles to go ….hmmm.

I’ve been told that the Offa’s Dyke walk is accessible from the road I had walked along earlier so as soon as the weather warms up enough to not be leaving frosty roads I shall head along and try walk as much of it as I can. However I believe that it’s 177 miles /285 kms; a tad more than I can fit into a 2 hour break.  I’d love to walk the whole route though, but that will have to wait for another year…if I am ever up this way in 2019 I’ll try add it to the ever growing list of walks I want to undertake.

One of my walking plans for 2018 is along the cliffs from Broadstairs to Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Dover and onto Folkestone as well as the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and the Camino Inglés from Ferrol to Santiago. I hope I can squeeze them all in. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but work does rather get in the way of my walking dreams LOL.

 

2018 did not get off to as good a start as 2017…..it was wet and cold and frankly, just miserable, ergo I didn’t get to start my #walk1000miles challenge till 3rd January. Thankfully the day dawned bright and I woke early. I had been longing to get out for a nice long walk but didn’t fancy walking in cold rain. 😉 It’s one thing walking in rain on a hot day, but cold? No thanks.

I didn’t manage a very long walk after all due to the fact that not only was I due to be leaving for Wales just after lunch time, but I moved house (within a house) and was in the process of sorting through my possessions…..I’m currently downsizing and oh my gosh have I accumulated a LOT of stuff since arriving in the UK in 2001. Truly??? Insane. Although to be fair to myself it is mostly travel mementos, travel diaries, a LOT of postcards (whyyy???), plenty of mugs from places I visited over the years, some clothes and a lot of books. It’s been quite difficult really deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

So putting the sorting and packing aside I set off just after 7.30am for a brisk walk and to watch the sun rise. It’s been ages since I got to watch the sunrise and I was longing to enjoy that feeling of joy as it rises above the horizon….a new day and I was still alive….what a privilege. Viking Bay looked absolutely gorgeous, the tide far out, the beach virtually deserted and the sky a palette of pastels.

walk 1000 miles, winter walks, sunrise, broadstairs, capturing britain

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet

With a brisk wind at my back I strode purposefully along the promenade to Louisa Bay and down the slipway to the beach. The tide was out and made walking along the crispy sands an absolute must. Cold, crispy, fresh sea air blew vigorously around me whipping my hair into my face and bringing tears to my eyes with the chill of it.

The beach looked like an alien landscape; deep swirled holes potted the beach, carved out by the crazy seas after yesterday’s storm.

walk 1000 miles, winter walks, sunrise, broadstairs, capturing britain

Louisa Bay; an alien landscape

I watched as I walked; the sky lightened and turned a soft pastel pink, that delicious colour you get during early winter mornings. Slowly the colours changed as the sun rose higher and then to my delight it started to peep above the horizon….up and up it rose, slowly brightening the sky till the disc of gold was full in the sky…..time to go home.

walk 1000 miles, winter walks, sunrise, broadstairs, capturing britain

Sunrise 03.01.2018

I had by then walked a fair distance and out along a spit of stones and rocks right out beyond the shore line. I had noticed the tide slowly creeping closer and as soon as it touched my toes I turned to return to the shore….I did not fancy being cut off by the tide closing in behind me.

Going back was a little quicker as the wind had picked up and was pushing hard at my back. Now I could truly not see much with my hair slapping against my cheeks, flying about above my head like a dervish. The wind skimmed vigorously along the beach whipping the sand into a frenzy and blinding the unwary as it flew into the air. White horses crested the waves that were now rising higher and higher with the wind pushing from behind.

Dogs and owners scurried along, dogs chasing leaves and debris, owners chasing their recalcitrant pets.

Looking back, the sun shone like a golden disc above the choppy seas, a shiny gold path reflecting on the wet beach.

walk 1000 miles, winter walks, sunrise, broadstairs, capturing britain

a golden path

I walked across the sands at Viking Bay towards the little boats sheltered in the harbour. As I neared the curve in the beach a sudden gust of wind lifted me off my feet and sent me flying across the sands…..Mary Poppins where are you now?

walk 1000 miles, winter walks, sunrise, broadstairs, capturing britain

Broadstairs harbour, Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

I do so love the winter months despite the wet, cold, grey days; but it’s those clear days I look forward to most – days when the sky is painted soft pastel greys, pinks and lilac as the sun rises on a new day.

I managed to get in just 4 kms/2.5 miles although not anywhere near what I would like to do each day, I only need to walk 2.74 each day to reach 1000 by 31.12.2018……997.5 to go!!

 

I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.

What an extraordinary year; 2017.IMG_20171231_100927_404

p.s. Days 14-30 Days of Gratitude will follow shortly….I eventually ran out of time 😉