Actually, we went to the Hay-on-Wye literary festival with a group of highly irreverent friends with the good intention of some extensive walking.
The Hay festival was fantastic as was the company and the scenery, the walking however did rather take second place, no – fourth place to festival, company and wine. Temperance is not a virtue shared by our group. To avoid being completely alcohol dependent by the end of the week we rented a separate house about 1½ miles away. Fantastic, luxury place with a hot tub shared with the other residents in the complex.
Despite the distractions of Hay-on-Wye and wine we did manage an excursion. We selected a hill in the distance (785ft) and set out to walk to the top. It worked well for the first 1½ miles but we were passing the house where our friends were staying and decided to pop in and say hello (rude not to). Two hours and several coffees later we continued on our walk. Backpacks in place, lunch packed, pedometer switched on we set out.
A beautiful walk along a reservoir, slowly climbing to our selected peak. Unfortunately, whilst supping coffee, clouds had descended to obscure pretty much the top 50 metres of our hill but we persevered. At a point where cloud met grass we did a health & safety check on our surroundings and decided trying to climb at a 45 degree angle on wet grass with nothing much to brake our slide would not make good reading on a subsequent insurance claim form. With this in mind we decided to traverse down a few metres to a rocky outcrop and settle ourselves for our packed lunch.
Now, a trekking lunch for us has been honed to perfection over years of experience. One must ensure the optimum weight to energy ratio of the foods to be carried and also the speed and efficiency with which they can be assembled beforehand. Ours consist, quite simply of bread, cheese, a good bottle of red and a corkscrew (just in case the one you picked wasn’t a screw-top).
Lunch finished and resigned to having reached our pinnacle for the day it was down to the bottom. Now, I don’t know if it was the wine or years of hill walking technique (I suspect the former) but what took us an hour to climb took us about ten minutes to descend and strangely accompanied with a good deal of giggling (I’m sure it wasn’t me). It would have been quicker had I not inadvertently missed my footing several times and rolled gracefully through the grass coming to a gentle rest surveying the clouds. Deb said “I hope you haven’t rolled in any cow pats”. I checked my self thoroughly, the last thing I wanted was to return home and jump into our communal hot tub with the neighbours only to see a large cow pat rising sedately to the surface (try explaining that away).
We managed to make it to the bottom and found an alternative route back to safety. Having checked the pedometer we’d managed a humble 8km, less than half of what we need to achieve each day on the Camino but hey, this was our first training day and we still have 420 days to go.