Day 1: Chepstow to Monmouth
19.2 miles. Our first day on the trail was perhaps abut more than we’d bargained for and we finished it with aching feet and burning shoulders.
After an enormous traditional English breakfast and a quick search for methylated spirits we headed out at 0900. I would’ve preferred an earlier start but that was the best we could do with Shari’s morning sluggishness and our general level of preparedness. Our path-finding was mostly without mishap, and added only perhaps 15 minutes and a quarter mile to our day. The trail traversed primarily fields and woods with the occasional foray through residential alleys. Cows and sheep, and later swans, were regular companions. The weather was stunning: mid-60’s, clear and windless, allowing us to hike sleeveless comfortably.
Around every turn in the trail we had yet another stunning view of the Wye River valley and surrounding patchwork of wood and fields, all just starting to show fall colors. The forests are deep, cool and dark, making it all to easy to imagine archers lying in wait for unwary troops or travelers. We took a side trip to Tintern Abbey, an 11th century Cistercian relic in remarkably good condition. That added perhaps a mile or two and and a couple of hours to our day but was totally worth the time and effort.
The only problem we’ve had so far is my having left our plug adaptor at our lodging in Chepstow, meaning we’re currently unable to recharge batteries for phone, GPS and camera.