The route of month three
With the warmest Halloween on record (as if that should matter to anyone at all, but thanks to rolling news for letting us know) it was a very pleasant journey this month. If you remember I had finished September in amongst the cauldrons of Force Brewery in Cirencester. Not a hangover in site, such is the clarity of the beer, so I set off in high spirits. The rural roads of Gloucestershire are hazardous at times, but weighted heavily in the beauty sector. I pass the fields of Home Farm, near Tetbury, with the two Suffolk Punch horses waiting patiently to be rigged up to mow the nearby mixed meadows. The town of Tetbury is a nice looking place and interesting if you like antiques. I would not choose to spend too much time looking through other peoples cast offs so quickly hit the open road once more (after a sneaky pint in the Cat and Custard Pot – just to top myself up). Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Westonbirt Arboretum, but I have seen it before and therefore didn’t feel the need, but do go if you’re ever in the area.
One of my waypoints is the market town of Chipping Sodbury, which has to be one of the poshest sounding places in the UK. Much like anyone can say the word bacon in a Jamaican accent by saying the two words ‘beer-can’, so to can you sound like the lord of the manor by saying ‘Chippin Sod-b-rare’. Anyway, I scuttle past the biennial Mop Fair being hosted in the town’s wide streets and make my way to the Severn Bridge, running parallel to the M4. As I approach the gruel coloured water of the River Severn, I am questioned momentarily by a man in a kiosk about the two vehicle’s I have on my feet. No they are not boats, just size 13 trainers, but the two pistons attached to my ankles are not any larger than a 0.1 CC engine so I surely must be able to cross without having to pay the French owners of the Welsh bridge £6.20 to cross. I successfully argue my case and as I crest the midriff of the bridge, in the distance I see Crickhowell, where I won a Rugby 7s tournament as part of an invitational team called the ‘Bug Bugs’. I leave those memories behind and continue North West up the unsympathetic (and seemingly never ending) hills to rendezvous with the Monthly Mentor from August, Tom. We meet in a village near his home, which boasts the fantastic name Llantilio Crossenny. He has brought with him a double slice of his famous raised game pie and we settle down for a rest and a pint of Herefordshire Pale Ale.
My next stop is the village of St Arvans in Monmouthshire, which was rebuilt in its current place, due to the residents of the original village (some 2 miles away) being eradicated by the plague, the only remaining structure being the old chapel. There was a recent fear that the saturation of the ground last year might raise the *infectious spores* up through the earth, from the burial grounds, the likes of which has been seen in Africa. But thankfully I have no signs of any such ailment and, after a quick check up on the pigs, I carry on. The Wye Valley AONB is quite breath taking. It is unforgiving terrain which makes your legs burn constantly but I am happy for it to do so as I have the finest end in sight. My third month ends with a tour of the tight valleys of Herefordshire. Through the acres of manicured cider orchards I can see the comforting familiarity of Yazor. I have no idea of the origin of the name, but to me it means honesty, generosity and hard work. I am welcomed into a friends farmhouse where the greeting is as warm as the tea and toast. We follow up with the best Welsh Cakes in England (no secrets revealed as it is Aunt’s recipe). I am spoilt by my hosts who will not let me lift a finger, other than to get myself upstairs into a bath. I return to find a neatly pressed shirt fresh from the designated laundry room and if I had a car I am sure it would be clean by the time I got outside!
All in all it was a good months run. I fear though, that I will not want to leave Yazor to restart my journey. I will have to, but for now I will enjoy lying on the sofa watching a film.
Miles today: 3.00
Miles completed: 294.02
Miles to go: 817