We slept like babies following yesterdays exertions and after a compulsory lie in drove to Llanthony Priory for an 8 mile walk over Hatterrall Hill, round Cwmyoy and back along the Vale of Ewyas. The priory is only about 25 mins from the cottage but despite it being the Easter holidays the roads are very quiet. The weather must have deterred quite a few since even though the snowline is steadily rising, there are still large drifts alongside some of the roads. Having said that, we had to snag the last space in the priory cark park and the ruins are heaving with the most determined tourists who’d obviously seen the priory on Country File a few weeks back so we decide to look around once we’ve finished the walk, and get up onto the hill quickly.
No sooner have we reached the moorland than we come across lots of horse poo, closely followed by a small herd of Welsh mountain ponies. They’re short, fat and quite timid, but are quite happy to pose for a few pics. I resist the urge to try and get a cheeky snuggle as the way is quite icy and slippy underfoot, and they’re better equipped for leaping around snow covered hillsides than I am. We meet the Offa’s Dyke Path on the ridge and see only a handful of walkers in the distance. The ground is white and crisp, the view clear and magnificent. The sort of Winter’s walking holiday you dream of. The path down to Cwmyoy is less well trodden and we miss the gateway leading down to Blaenyoy. Instead we end up taking a much more exciting (sheep track) route back up on the slopes of the hill, and contour round to Ty-hwnt-y-bwlch and over the River Honddu. The path however, is in a very poor state. We appear to be wading through a combination of sheep, horse and cow shit, mixed with a little bit of mud, and the odd dead sheep carcass thrown in for good measure. Fair enough the weather hasn’t been good, which could explain some of the mess, but from experience we know that some landowners let footpaths fall into a state of disrepair in an attempt to discourage walkers, because in their minds we’re the vandals of the countryside. I don’t see it myself, but each to their own. We wouldn’t walk that stretch again though as a result, which is a shame, and we’re very glad that we’ve faced it on the home run rather than at the start of the day.
We reach Llanthony Priory just after 6pm as the light starts to fades, and all fellow tourists have gone home for tea. Bliss. The ruins really are spectacular. We’re home by 7pm and I quickly assemble a lamb (not Welsh, sadly) stew and pop it in the oven for a late supper whilst I have a long soak in my secret supply of Eucalyptus bath salts. I have to keep them secret as Rich often comes downstairs asking if his elbows smell nice, because he’s used my favourite face cream on them. As he himself says though, I’ll never be short of things to write with him in my life! He’s very special. Sometimes special special when he tries to persuade others that I’m his carer, and that he needs a seat on the tube, but mostly he’s just extra special.