As we needed to stock up on food, we parked up in Monmouth’s Cattle Market car park. In times gone by the cattle market did indeed used to be held here, and on weekends it still holds a general market selling fruit and veg, odds and ends.

Monmouth residents are fortunate to have great walks on their doorstep. The small town is surrounded by open common land and footpaths. Starting at the Drybridge Nature Park, close to the famous Minnow Bridge, we headed up to Vauxhall Fields – now a large expanse of much needed new housing, up Ancrehill Lane – where Ancre Hill Vineyard can be found, across Rockfield Road, past Croft-y-Bwla, then on to the Offa’s Dyke Trail through King’s Wood where 3 cocker spaniels saw us as walking cuddles and threw themselves at us. Unfortunately one then started growling at me, as the owner ran up waving her arms shouting “Don’t worry, it’s just your hat!” It turned out that this particular spaniel had a phobia about woolly hats, and as mine is a particularly fine specimen, the dog wasn’t happy, despite the desperate urge for cuddles.

The walk through King’s Wood was especially pretty, and the path well maintained, possibly because the bridleway has been diverted and there’s now less mud underfoot. We dropped down to Whitehill and Long Hill Woods before cutting east through Lady Grove, and emerging at Wonastow where unfortunately the path became a mud sludge again, and we had to clamber over a gate that a not very accommodating landowner had padlocked shut. I do love cows, but they can’t half make a mess, especially when their owners aren’t very aesthetically minded, and hate walkers. We also started to encounter a lot of dog poo, so much so that the path stank of it. I have a real issue with lazy dog owners not cleaning up after their pets. Not the finest end to a lovely few hours of fresh air and beautiful scenery.

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Back at the car park I attempted to look less like a walker by changing into my jeans and trainers in the public loos, before braving Waitrose. Fortunately it wasn’t as posh as the one back home, and we didn’t feel so out of place. Not the cheapest place to buy food admittedly, but there’s not much choice in Monmouth, and it’s still a lot cheaper than eating out every day. Not that we’re tight. We just really enjoy cooking.

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