Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Irishwoman who went up a hill…and nearly got stuck


Hatterall Hill. We were on that bit where it goes all vertical and dangerous, the bit where no sane person would venture.

We’ve had another lovely, long weekend in Wales, which included a climb up Hatterall Hill (aka THE HILL OF DOOM!). After walking for some miles, the last one being almost entirely uphill, we were very nearly at the ridge. We were promised spectacular views of England on one side of the hill, and the dark, glowering Black mountains of Wales on the other. So when we finally got there (after a particularly exhausting and completely pointless detour which is where everything started to go wrong), I noticed that Wales and England had swapped places. I suggested this to MrCat, but he wasn’t having it, despite all argument to the contrary.

“No, really. England is in the wrong place. It should be on the right, not the left”.

“I don’t think so”.

“No. No really. Look – that is a patchwork of gentle, green fields. That is your stereotypical English landscape. See those whopping great mountains over there, the BLACK ones? That’s definitely Wales. That is not, most definitely NOT, Hereford or Worcester. Actually, I don’t even think this is the ridge path”.


“Let’s carry on, shall we?”

So we carried on. And by now it was 5pm, and we’d been walking for hours. And all of a sudden, we were on the edge of what appeared to be a precipice, with no path, no shelter, and no clue where we were. The wind was so strong it was impossible to breathe. I insisted we go back, MrCat used logic and said all would be well. But it would have meant walking along this tiny little path, clinging on to the side of the hill, as the sun sank lower and lower, with no idea whether it would meet the main path again or not. And if it didn’t, and it was dark by then, it would have been horrible. So I got panicky (MrCat later said he was quite impressed, as my panic translated into walking very fast, and very vigorously, at speed away from the edge of the hill). I wasn’t walking. I was stomping.

bblog1 Shangri-la at the end of a long walk

Half an hour later we were back on the wrong path we’d been on before, but at least it was sheltered. In MrCat’s rucksack we had all we needed to survive a night in the open.

1. A bottle of water
2. A big bag of satsumas
3. A box of fondant fancies which, as every fule no, is vital for outdoor survival.

Five mintues after this, we finally found the Offa’s Dyke ridge path. It was about 2 metres away from where MrCat had decided to take his random, and ill advised, detour through the gorse.

I didn’t say anything. I just gave him “the look”.

The path down Hatterall Hill drops into the grounds of Llanthony Priory, another one of those beautiful monastic ruins so beloved of your blog host. As luck would have it, part of the cellar of the priory has been converted into a teeny little bar, where cold beer can be acquired by shell shocked walkers. It would have been rude not to buy some. It’s what the monks would have wanted.


Llanthony Priory – you can see the entrance to the teeny bar just on the left


This week I have been mostly making an enormo-alligator from a 1970’s pattern book, and reading Seance.


JuliaB said...

oooer! that sounds a bit treacherous! thank goodness for the friendly tavern at the end. xx

The Coffee Lady said...

oh, those monks. They're prophetic.