After the obligatory bacon butties, we decided to leave Skyra (our car) and Dervla (the renowned satnav) at home and explore locally on foot.
Taking advantage of the footpaths leading directly from the Hayshed, we headed through the local woods and over the fields to Llangattock-vibon-Avel and it’s very pretty church. From here we headed down to The Hendre, across the B4233 to Avenue Cottage, west until we hit the Offa’s Dyke Path, and then followed this to Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern. Don’t worry about the Welsh place names. I can’t pronounce them either, and I was born and bred in Cymru. The important thing to note is that the views towards the snow clad Black Mountains were stunning, and the walk provided enough up and down to help us start getting our hill fitness back – something which we hate losing between walking holidays, but which is unavoidable at the moment.
As expected, we didn’t see any other walkers, not even one with a dog. Admittedly this might be because the routes usually involve trudging through mud baths, but mud is good for your skin. Still we crave peace and quiet such as this, and it’s to be found in spades in Monmouthshire. I’m sure that many find our sort of holiday boring, but slow travel and in depth exploration allows us to really get beneath the surface, and we’d rather go back to a place than see only the tourist traps on a whistle stop tour. Plus you have to be surprisingly fit to enjoy hillwalking, and whilst I might not look like an athlete, my physio once described me as one. So there.