Pilgrimpace's Blog


walking the cistercian way – part 5 – final days

There followed several wonderful days on this homeward stretch, making my way round towards Penrhys, stopping at Caerleon, Risca and Pontypridd, again with wonderful hospitality from friends to allow me to finish the pilgrimage.  I lost my hat.  I shredded my trousers making an ill-advised short cut over a fence when I had got very slightly off route.  On a couple of days I found an odd thing with my speed.  Conditions underfoot and my knee meant two mornings where I was averaging around one mile an hour.  I knew I had to put speed on to make it to my ending points in time.  Somehow I made well over three miles an hour.  I am not sure how this happened.

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A day of three woods – Chepstow Park, Earlswood (which is no longer there), and the Wentwood.  Sandwiches by the beautiful Earlswood Methodist Church, built by the labour of local women in the eighteenth century.  Taking the wrong path, but finding it came out in the right place.  On the ridge above the Usk north east of Caerleon, a precious few minutes walking along one of the last bits of the old pilgrim way from London to St Davids that is not under a main road.

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A morning happily looking round Roman remains, twisting my knee slightly climbing down muddy, steep Lodge Hill.  Deciding this meant it was better to head for Risca via minor roads rather than the paths of the Cistercian Way – and then finding out that this would have been the route taken by sick and infirm pilgrims.  Recovering enough to climb Twmbarlwm.

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Climbing up and down the Valleys, finding my way up and around Mynydd Machen.  Very moving to be above the Valleys on the 50th Anniversary of Aberfan, reflecting and praying on this, passing men wearing black suits, the flags at half mast, feeling the anger.

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A farmer offering accommodation and quad biking for youth work.  A small holder asking where I was bound exclaiming “Penryhs! It’s God’s country there!”

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