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Glyndwr’s Way

Glyndwr’s Way was named for the Welsh hero, Owain Glyndwr, who in the 15th century led a rebellion against the English.  We did this route in 2006 after completing the nearby Shropshire Way in England.  The 143-mile route began in the border town of Knighton, where the mountains rose immediately from the town center and sent us gasping to the top.  Though not on par with the heights of Colorado, Wales is a mountainous country and walking is strenuous. Hill upon hill flooded the horizon with a few scattered farms here and there.  For such a small place on the map, it felt huge and empty.

On the first day our spirits soared.  We were happy.  We were unguarded.  We were not looking at the guidebook.  We were lost.

Hours later, after a humbling knock on the door of a farmhouse, our host for the night, Richard, was picking us up off the side of the road in an old, battered pick-up.  Whether by chance or because of the prospect of spending the night outdoors with the sheep, this night would be one of the best of the trip.

Brandy House Farm sat just outside of the hamlet of Felindre, a tiny Welsh village with a church, a pub and a couple of houses.  From the backyard, Richard took us to a private foyer at the end of the main house.  After discarding my muddy boots, I flung my pack over my back and tip-toed upstairs.  The door swung open revealing a large converted hayloft with heavy beams and white plastered walls.  Three low windows overlooked the backyard.  The room had a look of extreme comfort.  It seemed to say- Come, sink your weary body into my soft comfy cushions, have a cup of tea, eat a cookie, lay your head on the pillow, rest, relax, you’ve had a hard day.

My pack dropped to the floor with a thump.  Then, as if in slow motion, I sank my limbs into a welcoming chair.  It was total bliss.

The pub was closed on Monday night so Richard was cooking for us, a common practice in out-of-the-way farmhouse accommodations.  After cleaning up we entered another portion of the house where we found a table set for two.  We were famished.  Dinner arrived, piping hot: a large dish of homemade lasagna, a loaf of fresh-baked bread, real butter, green salad, a bottle of wine, blueberry cobbler and vanilla ice-cream.  An evening walk around the farm, a cup of chamomile tea and we were off to bed.

After a good night’s sleep and a huge breakfast, we waddled happily down the road.  The route continued in a backward “C” into the hinterland of Wales with millions of sheep and very few people.  The script for each was the same, up the hill, down the hill.  We took a side-trip to climb Mount Snowden which we loved.  No mud, no grass and no route-finding.  AND, it actually had switchbacks.  Whoopee!

Once we ended this trip, our thoughts returned to Colorado, to the store and to the summer ahead.  The entire trip which ended up to be 275 miles, had done it’s magic.  We were tired- a good tired.  I wasn’t sure that the layer of fat that I was trying to pound into submission was gone, but at least it had solidified.  The layer of stress had definitely peeled away.  We were ready to greet the summer.

How It Stacks Up

If you love stair-climbing, you’ll love this trip.  Wales is full of rounded mountains and this route goes up and over at least one everyday.  I don’t mind this.    I didn’t care for the exposed summits and the wind.   By the end I was missing trees, little creeks and draws.  I loved Snowden and would highly suggest doing part of this route, probaby the beginning, then heading for Snowdonia National Park.