Are you all rested? That’s good because it’s time for you to join me on a journey, a hike of over twenty miles. Come with me as I take you from the countryside along the River Wye to a small beach town on the English Channel. Actually, these are two separate hikes, two separate days, in case you were worried you couldn’t keep up.
While staying at the Dairy House Farm B&B in Staunton on Wye, I did quite a bit of walking trails—you may have read about one of my walks with my canine pal Kanga (“… Just Give Me That Countryside”). A week later and I was following another trail in Eastbourne, a small beach-side city with trails to the historic Beachy Head. During this second walk, I kept comparing my surroundings and the act of following a trail in Eastbourne with my adventures on the Wye Valley Walk. And I definitely mean adventures, as you will soon see. … If you’re willing and ready to go?
Day One: Wye Valley Way
Good morning! It’s time to pack for our trip. Oh, yes, yes, you’re coming with me on my first hike along the Wye Valley Walk.
There’s a pub to stop at on the trail, but having a snack would be nice as well, perhaps in some secluded field along the way? Have we the essentials for surviving a hike? We are heading thirteen miles to Hay-on-Wye, the quirky bookstore town I’ve been wanting to visit. We have plenty of water. Also, in case we get lost and my phone battery dies, I have my portable charger. I even have a map, but unless you know how to read a map, I’m not sure what good this will do since I apparently can’t read a map to save my life. Well, otherwise, I think we are good to go.
At this point, you probably should be asking, “Mightn’t a hat be helpful? And maybe some sunblock?” Neither have I but I do have the important items for a tasty snack break: bread, cheese, a half a scone, and a miniature bottle of wine, and we are ready to explore. Are you starting to get nervous?
You probably should…
“I’m Rudy the Rabbit! Rudy the Rabbit.”
What am I chanting, you ask? This spot here, leaving the open space outside the Dairy House Farm B&B and entering into the wooded space, this looks like the place where Rudy enters the woods, speeding up his run in the 80s classic movie, Meatballs.
You don’t know it? It should be on Netflix. Go watch it. No, not now, we have a hike to continue…
Look! A trail marker. And a distinct path in this direction. Ok. This isn’t so bad. And look at the beautiful views. …
I keep thinking about the time when my childhood friend, Sue Rich, and I wandered into the woods at Fancher Davidge Park in Middletown, NY. We soon became lost but after what felt like hours (or maybe days!) we managed somehow to find our way out. Wow, was I surprised when I returned home and my parents were sitting in the living room as if nothing had happened, not even aware their daughter had been in mortal danger, didn’t even know they should have been worried sick about me. And will my family be worried about me now while we walk this new trail together?
Crap. Which way now? The trail in Wye Valley is not user friendly. I can’t quite figure out which way those arrow markers are pointing.
But look now, we are not alone in this. Here, where three roads meet, a man is coming, ooh, and he has a dog! He says his name is Toby—the dog’s name, that is.
No, I didn’t ask what the man’s name was. Why is that important?
The three of us (oh, yes, you should come, too) should walk up this third road together. Hmmm…smoky fields and muddy roads?
Looks as if Toby and his human should have gone the direction we came from and we should have gone his. Not too late to do that. “Nice chatting with you. Goodbye, Toby and your human.” Actually, looking back, it makes sense that this is the direction we should have gone in the first place.
It’s going on 11:30, and I’m a bit peckish, but here is the Brobury House & Gardens in Bredwardine. Let’s pay the five pounds, shall we? And we can wander around these beautiful gardens. This is much smaller than Kew Gardens but no less beautiful and peaceful.
Actually, let’s sit here, just the two of us, completely alone by the river. We can read, eat our snacks, and drink the wine. I don’t know about you, but I feel very much at peace. Perhaps we forgo the long trip to Hay-on-Wye and stay here… I do so love a garden.
Remind me to tell you sometime about Kew Gardens, Osterley Park and House, and St Fagans National History Museum…
It’s nearly 1. We should get going. What? No, we’re not heading back yet. Part of me still wants to travel to Hay-on-Wye. We can do it.
We need to cross the river here, and head across this field. Look, the church. That’s on our map. We must be heading the right way.
Aw man, another three way intersection. Let’s sit on this bench and see if we can figure out this map. Maybe if I turn it on its side?
“Oh hello Toby and your human! How goes the hike? Anything of interest out that way?” Toby’s human says the pub is closed because it’s Monday. Stupid Monday.
There’s a marker over there. Let’s get going. Why are these markers appearing farther and farther apart?
I probably shouldn’t worry you like this, but I’m not sure we’re going the right way half the time (ok, maybe 90 percent of the time?).
Yes, yes, I looked at the map, but this is no help. First of all, as I said, I can’t read a bloody map. And second of all, the map is attached to step by step directions—IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION—from Hay-on-Wye to Hereford instead of the direction we are going.
The. Complete. Opposite.
So every time I see a marker, I breathe a sigh of relief. Every time I come upon a sign with information about the history of the place, I breathe a sigh of relief. We’re not lost. We’re still on the right track! Phew.
Some of these paths are tight. Holy your hands up over your head so the blackberry branches don’t scratch you. Good thing I wore jeans.
Looks like we go through this gate. And we need to climb over this fence here.
Why not another gate?
Where are we now?
I’m not sure.
Where’s the next marker?
I don’t see one either.
What’s that sign say, Moccas? I don’t see Moccas on this map!
I guess that’s it. Yep, I think it’s time to head back.
I’m afraid I can’t say how far we traveled. I actually lost my Garmin Vivofit at about four miles in. I didn’t want to tell you.
At least I do know the way we need to go to get back home.
See these pictures I took? There’s my finger pointing toward exactly which direction we need to go.
Passed the pheasants here, passed these sheep. Why are they staring at us? Passed rusty old farm equipment and round bales of hay.
Did you notice, aside from Toby and the Man and the woman to whom we paid our five pound admission, we have seen no one? Sorry about all those long quiet moments as we traveled, but I do tend to relish not running into people, I relish being the solo traveler, just me, my backpack, and the thoughts in my head.
Here we are. That wasn’t so bad, right? Overall, I can safely say we traveled at least ten miles.
We have another ten miles to go still, but don’t worry, let’s save those for another place and another day. I’m a bit tired and sunburned. I probably should have put on sunblock.
(Part Two, climbing the hill side by the Channel to come…)