Wye Valley YHA is a lovely old fashioned hostel, rather like those I remember from my youth. It’s an old rectory and comes complete with a church in its grounds. The location, overlooking the river, is to die for. When I was still in primary school my mother would let my brother and me cycle off to Youth Hostels on our own; this would be unthinkable nowadays. Of course back then there were no provided meals, you had to cook your own. You slept in large dormitories often with no heating. You also had to take your own sleeping bag liner and guests were expected to do ‘tasks’ like cleaning the floors as part of the deal. I rather liked the old format as it forced people to interact.
But I enjoyed my stay at this hostel and met some nice people; a cyclist, a metal detectorist, a birder, and a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme instructor. An unlikely group of people but one guaranteed to inspire interesting conversation. On my walk today I had brief chats with various people who were all very encouraging. One chap walked with me for half a mile or so. He was a very keen walker, I suspect ex-military, and he was saying that the boys from the regiment do the Wye walk in 3 days, ‘mind you’, he said, ‘they walk all night as well!’
Which brings me onto one of my gripes about guide books for long distance walks. Why do they assume that all people walking the routes are super athletes and set day walk distances of 17 to 22 miles? In my humble opinion, 10 to 14 miles a day is more than enough. It reminds me of a couple Anthony and I met when we were walking the Two Moors Way. We had set up camp at about 5 o’clock and were sitting by the fire having a mug of hot chocolate when this middle-aged couple came hobbling along the path. In conversation it turned out that they had pre-booked their accommodation based on the guide book recommendations of 20 plus miles a day – they were exhausted and still had 6 miles of hilly terrain to go.
So take my advice and ignore the expert advice, set lower targets and enjoy walking without pressure – the worst that can happen is that you will have more time to enjoy your surroundings.
Ross-on-Wye made a nice lunchtime stop today and this afternoon’s walk took me past some very affluent looking houses – there is money around here – posh country estates. Hereford and further tomorrow with any luck.
Thanks for all the comments – I really enjoy reading them. It can get a tad lonely spending all day and night alone so your messages are areal boost. Forgive me if I haven’t responded to all of them but it’s difficult operating the iPad in a freezing tent and I have to do it quickly to preserve battery life.