I woke at about 7am. My shoulders and neck where freezing cold. I had slept with the window wide open, in order to air out my clothes, as the same ones where in action again for Day 2. I gingerly crawled out of bed with my sore legs. I honestly felt like a puff of wind, or even the smell of my socks lingering in the room could have knocked me over.
I plodded down the stairs to the breakfast area. After sitting down and finishing my breakfast the owner came up to me and said, “where are your papers?” I said “sorry?” She said, “If you are to get a free nights stay, I need to see your papers to prove that you are raising money for charity.” I decided to take off my jacket and show her my MNDA t-shirt. “I need to see papers”, she replied. I told her, “I have no money on me, I’m on a 223 mile adventure, I’m wrecked, cut me some slack please”. Well, she was having none of it. She wanted to see papers. All I could think of was to grab my laptop from the room I was staying in, and show her the articles published by BBC and Wales Online about my trip. She just about let me go out the door.
It was about 10am when I started my trek for the day. I made a tough decision to stay off the main road and take the scenic route to my destination. It was a difficult call to make, as I knew that today was going to be my longest and toughest walk on this trip. This decision was based on safety as I didn’t want to be walking into oncoming traffic on an ‘A’ road for hours.
It was quite cold during the start of the day. I started the trek, walking like a bit of a zombie, but after about an hour, my legs had regained some natural movement again, which made me feel great about the day ahead.
At about 11am the sun came out, and there was nothing but blue skies. I heard a couple of fighter jets in the air, which were travelling really low to the ground. The noise they made completely filled the air around me.
It came to about lunchtime and I had realised that I was very low on water. I had decided the night before that I wouldn’t carry the 2-litre bottle of water that I carried on Day 1. My body was aching, and I wanted to do anything to reduce the weight I was carrying.
I was about one hour from the next town, and it was blistering hot. I don’t know exactly what temperature it was, but it was certainly in the 20’s. As a result of dehydration kicking in, I made stupid mistake, and went down the wrong path, which ultimately led to a dead end farmer’s property. I knew I had gone wrong, so out came the phone to check the map. I had walked down the wrong path for about 500m. It doesn’t seem much, but that’s 500m down, then I had to stop for about 10 minutes to figure where I should be heading, and then walk 500 metres back. This going on, when my body was crying out for water.
I said to myself that I have to ask someone for water. So I proceeded to the first house about 20-minutes later and got no answer. I’d say they smelt me from their living room, and said to themselves, “do not leave in that guy whatever you do. He smells like a walking rotten carcass”. I really needed water, so I wasn’t giving up so quickly. I asked the next house down, and they gave me a pint of water and filled up my bottle for me also. They laughed when I asked them for the water. They most have thought that I was some crazy nomad roaming across Mid-Wales. I drank that pint of water so quickly. I never knew water tasted this good.
It was just after lunchtime and I decided to stop off in Caersws for a bit of grub. This involved me popping into a little Spar shop and grabbing a couple of things to munch on while sitting on a very comfy timber bench in Caersws town. When I had to get up off this bench, I had that feeling of heavy legs again. This was a feeling I was starting to get used to. “Imagine a penguin walking with pants on. Now imagine that same penguin with a poo in his pants. That’s how I felt like I was walking!”
I was making great progress and then I was confronted with another difficult decision to make. I could stick to the scenic route or I could walk along a ‘B’ road, which would bring me all the way into Newtown in a shorter distance. My head was telling me to stay on the scenic route, but my legs were crying out for help. So I decided to take the shorter distance and walk along the ‘B’ road. “How bad could it be? It’s only a back road”.
As I was approaching this ‘B’ road, I noticed how busy it was. The majority of cars were driving well above the speed limit also. I stopped and pondered what to do for a while, “had I made the right decision?” This road was incredibly narrow with no footpath, and not even a verge to walk on. It was just road, with farmer’s boundary ditches either side. Every time a high-speed car came towards me, I braced myself. The whole thing just felt so sketchy.
I walked on this road for what felt like about two hours. I was very physically tired, but more importantly, I was mentally drained. That feeling of walking along and constantly having to be on alert, was taking its toll. Over the first 30km or so of this trip I encountered very few cars and was constantly surrounded by fantastic scenes of nature. I hated this part of the day. I kept saying to myself that I should have just stayed on the scenic path earlier. I was deeply regretting this decision. But there was nothing I could do now, but be on alert at all times.
I saw my first sign for Newtown, which said “4 miles” away. I was chuffed; it had been a very long day already. I decided to ring Julie, who we emailed a few days before this trip, asking if I could stay in one of their log cabins. She was fully booked, but said that I could stay in there house in the spare bedroom.
I made the final trek into Newtown, where I saw Julie’s car parked just before a bridge. As I was putting my bag in the back seat, Julie could see how sore I was. All my movements at this stage were very slow. I felt like I was at least 75.
Julie drove me back to their fantastic house in the countryside, which Julie’s partner Mark, built himself. I walked in and took off my shoes, and we sat in the porch area drinking some water. I was so self-conscious about the smell of my socks. “We have all had smelly socks in the past, but this was so strong. The smell was getting caught in my nostrils.”
I dropped my bag up to my room, and then went straight for a bath. I felt like I needed to be boiled in hot water. We finished off the evening with a homemade chicken curry dinner, which was simply amazing. Julie and Mark were telling me stories from their travels. Like the time they went bear watching in Finland and Canada, and how they met Hiking in New Zealand. I retired for the evening at about 9pm. I dived into bed and curled up into a fetal position and fell asleep straight away.
Day 2 had been a lot tougher than I expected. I am really glad it is over. Day 3 involves walking from Newtown to Welshpool, which is about 20km, but it’s supposed to be a very flat walk. I’m one day closer to the swimming start, which is on Saturday at Pool Quay.
I can’t wait to get in the water now!
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Start Location: Llanidloes
End Location: Newtown
Distance travelled: 26.21km
Exercise Duration: 8hr:00mins
GPS Track: //connect.garmin.com/modern/profile/RossSwims