Old Friends, New Aches

So with a hectic and exhausting Christmas and New Year behind me it was time to go and relax and do those things I enjoy. Sadly Friday was a total wash out with torrential rain all day, ruining my plans for any kind of ride in Herefordshire. I hoped the weather would improve on Saturday ready for my annual walk with an old friend.

Many years ago in Ludlow my running partner introduced me to one of his work colleagues, Tony Collier. Days later the three of us were on the summit of Mont Blanc – an event which kick started what we all consider to be one of the best three weeks of our lives. Then I went off to university and didn’t see much of them. Life changed for everybody, a lot!

But I somehow managed to stay in touch with Tony and once a year we combine our busy lives and pop out for a mountain walk. I use the phrase ‘pop out’ at its most ironic. These are rarely walks in the park and usually turn into epics; Saturday was no different.

A beautiful crisp morning with a dusting of snow on the hills greeted us. The plan was to walk a 15 mile stretch of the Offa’s Dyke Trail from Knighton to Kington (a practice for something even more epic Tony has planned for next year. Eek!) Straight up the hill out of the valley and onto the tops. Progress was slow with endless styles to cross – made all the more difficult due to Tony still recovering from a severe arm injury last September.

Now, on a bike, I wouldn’t even blink at the thought of a 15 mile ride, everything changes on foot though! 7 hours later, darkness drawing in, a few spots of rain in the air, concentration waning and senses-of-humour failed (if anybody finds a sense of humour up on the totally pointless mile long dog leg round the field on the Path just outside Kington, could they return it to Jim please?) we were faced with Tony’s minor miscalculation – it was indeed 15 miles from Knighton to Kington. However, Tony lives 4 miles outside of Kington…

TONY’S PLAN A: Walk up and down the really, really steep hill and down the other side, in the slippy mud, in the dark, with no map, the 1.5miles to Tony’s house.
JIM’S PLAN B: Walk the 4 miles along the very dangerous, fast stretch of main road, wearing all black clothing.
Obviously, being the hardy outdoor adventurous types that we are – Tony and Jim are ex-army – we cunningly came up with another plan.
PLAN C: Phone Tony’s daughter Beth to come and pick us up from Kington in the car. Problem solved! Minutes later, cup of tea and cake in hand, we were regaling Beth with the tales and photos of the last 7 hours and already planning the next, longer walk.

Some photos to follow soon; I’m still recovering, I mean, er, I’m too busy, tending my blisters… Hardcore me, hardcore!

Labels: mountain walk, story