As I set out from Pendy to undertake my third day and trail by fire the heart had sunk. Hurting from my initial trekking the muscle memory I was so eager to awaken was still dorment. So as I approached the foothills of the Black Mountains forboding loomed like the hills that stood before me.
Before I could accend I was briefly waylaid by an unusual site sat beside one one the waymarkers that marked the path. A hunched figure covered by damp rahs and a drooping hood rocked gently. Slightly perturbed I approached wondering if this strange old crone was in ill health. A rattling crackle alleviated my concern somewhat as her wrinkled warty face appeared from beneath the rags.
Long bony fingers started to massage a fair sized stone as I stood there waiting for her to speak. Not wanting to appear rude I asked if she was ok, apparently so for she interrupted me loudly with a strange warning. The gist of which involved a deamon called Chafe, a curse and the need to carry one of her stones across the Black Mountsin ridge to avoid misfortune.
Needless to say it sounded like twaddle and I was in no mood. Scoffing to ensure she knew my distaste for such nonesence. I carried on and happily forgot the encounter.
After scaling the first accent I saw before me the days trail, 15 miles of ridge walking with no respite. The challenge was the tedium and harsh footing of the slabs that forgave feet very little. Other than that however, there was little to suprises in those first couple of hours but the company of these beautiful wild ponies
For lunch I bunkered down into a natural dip and set myself to work making coffee and sandwiches. As the bounty filled my greatfull belly the sound of silence made itself known by its awe inspiring pressence. Such a sound is so rare these days and underappreciated for it’s intoxication and medative impact on the phych.
This was the last comfort I would enjoy on this rolling ridge of braken and heath. For as soon as I rose and began to walk, a searing pain made itself knoen between my legs. Thankfully I carried Vaseline because each step became more and more difficult and only just bearable. I hope the image below would display the face of my discomfort..
The ridge walk worsened still… After several more hours as, almost a broken man I stumbled into a foggy ridge denoted by it’s many stone cairns. Marking the way to help hikers navigate the thick fog it rolled in out of nowhere surrounding me. Limping through I was struck by a sudden sense of danger, almost primal in origin and hieghtened by a distant call of some unknown predator.
I saw through the mist an old nag, tired and as lost as I was within the fog braying loudly. Before I had a moment to pause thunderpus sound akin to a boeing 747 coming into landng tore through me and a rush of air sent me and my bag careening to the floor. A mighty roar followed and echoed across the land followed by the end of the ponies braying. I lifted my head to where the old nag had been but I saw only a spatter of blood on the floor.
Adrenaline searing through my blood and the pain of chafe at my nether regions I left the peaks with all haste arriving in the village of Hay. This literary paradise provided the perfect sanctuary from my woes as there and then I decided a days rest was in order. Safe and away from the dragons of the Black Mountains.
Seeking out the local pharmacist I was laughed at when explained my predicament. It was a curse (apparently) and I was to seek out the four sisters of the local wood where the only ointment could be found able to soothe my deamon chafe. Desperate and playing along I trotted off to the place where I was directed and met these strange sisters.
No doubt related to the old hag I’d ignored earlier due to their foul mannerisms and likewise shreaking tones. At the least they provided me an ointment for which I expressed eternal gratitude. Furthermore they directed me to a tailor who sold me new silk underpants, shorts perfect for dealing with the chafe and a shroud to shield men from the sun..
I would carry this deamon with me they said but after a days rest, ointment and this new attire I would walk again. My path set to follow the river out of town.
The days rest appeared to have awoke the muscle memory I so longed for. Today I rose early and felt stronger than ever and after applying enough ointment to greese a combine harvester and wearing my overpriced new garments it all came together.
For the first time since I began this walk my body is tamed and able. The miles passed with little discomfort and by 2.30pm I reached Kington and my destination for the day.
Now to tame this mind, a feet made easy by a disciplined and tired body.