You could say that nothing happened today. I walked 18 miles – a distance most people cover in their cars without a thought – didn’t meet anybody and consequently had no upllifting conversations. I had a pub dinner and am about to go to bed. On the other hand, you could argue that today was an extraordinary series of wonderful experiences and that it about as full as day could be.
It was certainly a very physical day. I can safely say that my thoughts during the day were focused on my feet – for most of the day I needed to concentrate on where exactly I was placing my feet, as the ground was the wettest, muddiest, slipperiest and most taxing that I have ever experienced and for the rest of the time I needed to ensure that the didn’t go on strike and just stop walking in protest at being so horribly and unexpectedly maltreated. I can also admit to being as knackered as I have been in years after eight hours of almost non-stop walking, the last 90 minutes in pitch darkness overr the last hill before my descent to Monmouth.
I am so tired now that I am finding it difficult to concentrate on my writing and the sight of me stumbling up the steps to my room, after I was welcomed at the Riverside Inn as if I had just survived a solo Andes crossing, must have been very amusing indeed. Almost as funny as the sounds emitting from my room as I peeled off my mud-caked boots, my gamaches, my socks, and – Blessings! – my rucksack. Laura – my landlady – has been a gem and fussed over my kit – now cleaned and dried – like a mother hen. I am so wrapped up in the sheer physical effort that walking from Chepstow to Monmouth on the high road cost me that I really can’t bring myself to relate any of the other experiences of the day. Suffice it say, this is magnificent country, steeped in history, wild on the tops and magically romantic in the valleys. Tomorrow I leave much earlier to tackle the 17 miles to Pandy and am dreading moving my legs into my boots in the morning.