Llandovery to Llansawel
Three things are required to publish these daily updates: connectivity, energy and time.
The presence & speed of WiFi connectivity in each night’s B&B is out of my control. There was none in Sunday night’s Angel Inn self catering flat (more on this lovely place below), and more or less none in Wednesday night’s Salutation Inn.
There was good connectivity in Monday night’s awesome School House B&B and in Tuesday’s incredible Falls B&B. But in the former I was exhausted, and at the latter I was pushed for time after being taken out for a fabulous Pembrokeshire pub meal by my great friends Roger & Moira and their wider family.
But right now, it’s Thursday 8 August (my 52nd birthday), I have strong WiFi at Y Garth B&B and it’s only 10pm. But most importantly, supportive messages from several readers have massively motivated me to catch up on the five nights of missing updates. Never underestimate your power to energise others.
So, back to Sunday 4 August (which already seems like ages ago).
The sixth and final week of 52 promised both reflection and renewal.
What wonderfully diverse walking companions I had today! It’s the companions that really make this walk, with time to reflect, think, and share thoughts.
First, my lovely eldest niece Hannah (by brother’s eldest daughter) had come up from Devon, where she’s at home from university in Bangor.
On Saturday, we met on the train after Bristol Parkway, then travelled on to Swansea and Llandovery. We had a great time with Mary and Joan at Llandovery Station café (that I mentioned at the end of the last update).
For Sunday night we needed to make a plan as were going to be in self catering accommodation. Then, incredibly, we found ourselves walking past Llandovery’s new plastic free shop, Weigh of Life.
This is the future; we both believe this. We were able to pick up both snacks which have lasted me all week, as well as organic pasta for Sunday evening. Wonderful!
My other companion was Wokingham friend Francesco De Maio. Francesco’s been in Britain for years but is originally from Turin and has a very senior role with a global telecommunications business.
As we walked and chatted, it was great to hear their diverse perspectives, borne out of older and international experience, but also the straightforwardness of youth.
We left Llandovery on Sunday morning, walking for a short while along the A40. This is the old drovers’ route from Fishguard to the City of London, so in many ways reflects my route.
The countryside we were walking through now is custom built for reflection. Wooded valleys, mountain streams, sheep. Glorious!
We talked about all sorts of things, with me constantly questioning (as usual) what’s the right way to live, and how to best use our time that we’ve been allotted on earth.
I was struck by how much wiser than me both Francesco and Hannah are.
We snacked on the brown paper packaged food from Llandovery.
The rain closed in during the afternoon, but I couldn’t really complain as this was only the third rainy day in the whole of 52.
When the fields of long grass and bracken are wet, it’s best to divert to roads. So we took a tarmacked short cut to our destination, the tiny small village of Llansawel.
But British weather being what it is, by the time we got there, the sun was out so we played dominoes over a refreshing drink. It seemed very French somehow.
Francesco got a pre-arranged taxi back to Llandovery (option 2 in Wednesday’s list) whilst Hannah and I slipped into untypically typical gender roles: I nipped down the road (in the now improved weather) to do some filming, and Hannah cooked our tea (in the self catering flat at the back of the Angel Inn pictured above).
My first stop was the penultimate intersection at a whole degree of longitude. I couldn’t quite get there, however, as it was in the middle of a disused quarry.
And secondly, I wanted to photograph Edwinsford, a once grand mansion but now derelict.
It no longer looks as it did in its heyday above. I had to smash through undergrowth to find this:
The ruin reminded me that everything comes to an end.
Back at the Angel, I lapped up Hannah’s excellent pasta and we had a lovely chat with some Llansawelians in the bar.