Richard being around meant Arran didn’t have to drive me to the drop-off point, so he and the kids got a much-needed extra sleep this morning. We began our walk at the top of the Kymin, descending into Monmouth to get coffee (me) and something for lunch (Richard), before heading on our way through the famous medieval gatehouse and out into the countryside. As a Londoner I find it very difficult to get used to towns just ending and giving way abruptly to fields (I mean, proper countryside! just minutes away!), and this was another example – 15 minutes walk from the town centre and we were walking on bridleways on the edge of fields of crops.
With unerring timing, Alfie decided to ‘do his business’ just as we got into proper countryside, and as a responsible dog owner Richard cleaned up the mess and popped it into a plastic bag. But what to do with the bag, with no convenient bins for miles around? Eventually we opted for emptying out the dregs of my coffee and putting the bag into it before replacing the coffee cup lid, which largely worked but meant that every time Richard turned round too sharply for the rest of the day there was a faint but unmistakable odour. Lovely.
The walk to Pandy was very pretty, over rolling fields and along river edges, but again not the spectacular views I had sort of been expecting. We lunched on the side of a hillside, watching a lone walker ahead of us trying to find the path a couple of fields over. We caught up with him shortly after lunch – a very friendly Spanish man called Israel who despite describing himself as ‘not much of a walker’ appeared to have walked most of Europe!
I had high hopes of the White Castle, but unfortunately it was shut so we were confined to the views of it from the outside; reassuringly impressive (although not very white, perhaps that is one of the things explained if you go in?). We headed onwards, with Richard becoming increasingly restive at the lack of a pub. My guidebook’s OS maps showed the only pub for miles as being some way off the path in Llangattock Lingoed, so we detoured, only to find no pub at all where the map said it should have been. Heavily disappointed, we trudged off down the hill, only to find that the pub (the excellent Hunters Moon Inn) was in fact just round the corner (next to the path) and my map was wrong. The pub has recently been purchased and has clearly had a lot of money spent on it and looked very charming – the landlord, and the surprising number of people who wandered past while we were drinking, were all extremely friendly AND it sells chocolate bars, which in my view is something that all pubs should do. While we were sitting there, Israel turned up and we all headed on together for the last bit into Pandy.
Highlights: Richard’s masterful quelling of restive cows; gentle hills and peaceful farms; a skittish Arabian horse in a field on the way in to Pandy; the view of the White Castle; a lovely pint under a balcony covered in clematis.