Up early, early early – before dawn in fact – 3.45am!
I had slept on the sofa that night so not to disturb the family, however I didn’t sleep great and kept waking up, so when the alarm went off I felt lethargic which took hours to shake off. But it was dry, mild and still outside, so I quickly dressed, had a big glass of water, took the obligitory ‘at the start’ photo and off I set. The planned route being 50km from Monmouth to Goodrich to Yat Rock to Cannop (Pedalabikeaway) to Kymin and finally back to Monmouth.
The promising good weather was not to last however, as within half hour, the rain came and set in for a several hours, The persistent rain reinforced the idea that I need new waterproof trousers and hiking boots…I got soaked!
The route I chose was to be a simple one with fairly straight forward navigation, but varied with a border crossing, an historic castle, a royal forest and a stretch alongside the meandering river Wye.
I had intended to have breakfast at Goodrich castle, however I got there before the cafe opened, so after a quick detour to look at the castle, I carried on grateful that I packed an emergency veggie sausage sandwich.
By midday, the rain had well and truly cleared away and it was t-shirt and sunglasses weather. This brightened my mood no end, so I put on my acoustic mix on the ipod to singalong to whilst walking the footpath along the Wye river. Sunshine was glittering on the water, birds were tweeting and no one else in sight apart from a couple of kayakers gliding along the river. Idyllic.
Ow…ow…OW! What the??? I looked down to see a swarm (well 3-4) horseflies trying their best to bite me. It all quickly turned into a bad comedy sketch, and if someone saw me from afar would have witness me running eratically in loops and sidesteps, swiping at the air and slapping my legs. They would have found it particularly amusing to see me trip over a hidden mound in the ground, do a commando roll, then pick myself up to carry on running shouting ‘just bugger off you little b**tards!’ . Two fields later, they finally gave up having got me about a dozen times.
The rest of the day was uneventful as far as annoying insects goes. However walking through the Forest of Dean, looking for Ospreys at Yat Rock and reaching the final viewpoint at the Kymin (look one way and there’s England, look the other and there’s Wales) were particular highlights. From the Kymin, it was an achey slow march down the hill towards sunset and home, where I was welcomed with some peppermint foot lotion and a well-earned chilled cider.
This walk was part two of the longest night/day, and I honestly thought that the day walk would be easier than the December 21st walk. But it wasn’t. I just don’t think I am wired to cope with getting up before sunrise to walk for 17 hours!
Whilst I am pleased that I achieved this challenge, it’s not something I want to repeat again anytime soon. In fact I may just decide to reverse it and walk the shortest day and shortest night, far more civilised and enjoyable. To be continued……