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Walk Across Wales 2023 – Part 1

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A stone bridge

Powys SignpostEver since I discovered there was an organised walk that crossed the country, I’ve wanted to do it. The idea of crossing my country on foot has resonated with me as it has with many people all around the world. The Lands End to John O’ Groats journey has drawn many runners, walkers, cyclists over the year’s as has the Trans-America which sees many people every year making the crossing perhaps fueled by Forest Gump for a certain demographic, while the known history of ultra and multiday running has always had a place for the pioneers of the 1800’s. It’s not just me.

However my job has me working most Saturdays and as luck would have it my saturdays off have not coincided with the Across Wales Walk which takes place usually at the beginning of September. With the holiday dates already booked for that timeframe in 2024, its unlikely I will be able to take part next year either so I decided it would be a solo adventure.

My first Walk across Wales attempt in early August didn’t go according to plan. I caught a train to Newtown and walked the small roads to Anchor on the border between England and Wales. Starting from there around 7 pm I followed the road into Wales looking for the path that would take me up to the Kerry Way. I found an old wooden signpost pointing up into the wood but unsure if that was the correct path indicated on the map I walked a bit further until I saw another signpostwhich seemed to be where it was supposed to be however there was no easily climbable style or gate and indeed it looked like fencing had been put there more than a few years ago providing a sufficient deterrent and a suggestion that perhaps the earlier path was the correct route so back I went and into the wood I did go.

With an unexplored map-reading capacity, I came upon and followed a forest road which half a mile or so later came to an end. Not wanting to go back I headed off into the trees hoping to head striaght up the hill and out into the fields which were on top of the ridge.
However the spacing of the trees and fairly dense undergrowth forced me back in the general direction I felt was opposite of where I was trying to get to but that was my only real option. Eventually I came across another path that I had seen on the map and though overgrown with chest high ferns it still offered hope though it appeared to lead to a farm. Fortunately the path did indeed lead me up to the Kerry Way but I had lost time and a lot of energy in the forest. My rucksack was heavy. I had all the gear necessary for living outside for a month apart from food and water but it wasnt the lightest gear. My shoulders were getting very uncomfortable and I seemed to have developed an injury to my lower right back. By 9.30 it was almost dark  and I literally could not walk another step so found somewhere very close to put the tent up and crashed out. Slow going in the morning saw me break camp in time for the rain to settle in and more time was lost trying to find the path. Eventually deciding I had found the right way I headed off across some fields and I noticed the gates latches were consistently similar in design.