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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.

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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.

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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.

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

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

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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.

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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 🙂

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!!

 

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