I was woken by the birds at 5.30 and crept up to avoid waking Bernie. I brewed up a cup of coffee and then spent a glorious hour reading on my own, listening to the birds. I was reading ‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler and was lost in a world of 1950s America whilst sitting on a stone in a Welsh campsite.
Bernie woke up and we packed up and left within an hour or so. The first part of the day involved a climb up to the highest point of the Berwyns. These are less visited mountains than the Snowden range to the north but are lovely in their remoteness. The top point of the road was 500m up, and the moorland stretched out on all sides for miles. This was the site of a supposed UFO landing in January 1974, but the event is now put down to a combination of a small earthquake, a meteor shower and lights from poachers who were up on the mountain at night. Well, that is the official story at least!
I stopped at the top to allow Bernie to catch up. She had delayed to take pictures on the way up and so it was a few minutes before she joined me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a man who was sitting having a coffee outside his campervan. He was a Polish guy who had lived in the Lake District for 18 years and took himself off to mountain bike in remote parts. Like us, those remote parts outside the UK were cut off from him so he was exploring his adopted country. We chatted, exchanged views on cycling saddles and on life on the road. A lovely encounter – ending with us both wishing each other well in our travels.
The descent was, of course, short but exhilarating as we dropped 300m into the Tanant Valley. This valley is less than 1km wide but it gently drops from the Berwyn mountains into the Shropshire plains. It has a long and interesting history as it was the route for armies fighting between the English and the Welsh over centuries, as well as having religious foundations dotted through the valley. The road was quiet and we motored along in the sunshine, aided by a slightly tail wind and the slightly downhill.
At the end of the valley we re-emerged into England, but with a renewed appreciation of the beauties of Wales. There is so much more to explore in Wales and we look forward to doing so in future years as it is on our doorstep.
We by-passed Oswestry and headed to long standing friends who live in the village with one of the best names in England, Grimpo. We had estimated our arrival time at between 3 and 4pm, so were slightly embarrassed to arrive an noon, but nothing phases them. We then sat in their garden to recover after our 42km ride – not as long as previous days but just what was needed after a few mega days in the saddle.
The rest of the day was a total delight; catching up with people we had not seen for 18 months, swapping stories about what was happening to our lives and theirs, and increasingly what our respective children were doing as they forged their way in the world as adults.
We also did a rationalisation of our kit, sending a parcel home containing the computer, after using it to write the previous day’s blog (we are always at least one day behind). We had ordered a new portable keyboard so we could write the blog on the tablet – but it later proved not to work. That explains the delay in posting this blog – apologies to regular readers. We are now in Bradford (day off with Bernie’s sister Jane), have a keyboard that works and so will spend part of today catching up on the last few days.