Wednesday 12th September 2007

Harods Stones need adjustingWell Over the Border, Down Wales Way lacks the same ring.

A beautiful day at home raised expectations for a nice run down the M4 to Wales. These were not surprisingly dashed at Slough ("come friendly bomb and fall on Slough", you can google the rest, well worth while if you've ever been to Slough) by fog/low cloud which ran the entire way to the Severn Bridge.

I stood it for as long as I could but had to stop at Newbury to put in the jacket liner before I froze solid. Another stop a bit later for a surprisingly good scone and coffee and we were in Wales. God bless Marks & Sparks "Simply Food", most un-British but they have stuff with taste!

Our planned route to Monmouth on the recommended A466 was not signposted so we missed the turn and ended up doing a cross country to Harold's Stones at Trelleck. 3500 years old rocks (why did they do this?) plus a very lovely St Anne's Healing(?) spring, festooned with ribbons and scarves and all sorts. Plainly the spring is still doing a big trade. Fortunately a local suggested that the police might take exception to our parking in the middle of a junction, (I can't see why, there was no traffic) and suggested we migrate to a nearby car park. Clearly a good plan.

Annes SpringA very nice lunch at 'Coffee#1' in Monmouth with a nice cross country run along the B4233 to Abergavenny to follow. It's wonderful how little traffic there is on the back roads mid week, which is just as well as there is not much room for traffic to pass.

Our target for the day is the Half Moon Pub at Llanthony in the Vale of Ewvas but despite the fog we are well early. Pausing to consider this at Pantygelli (seriously) another local, after asking if we were lost, (the very idea), suggested we head up to Longtown and do the round trip of the vale. Sounded like a plan.

The castle at Longtown is well worth a look. 12th Century and in surprisingly good order. Sadly the roads are 10th Century although they have been tar sealed more recently, possibly in the 13th century. Talk about narrow Trev. I have never seen so many black skid marks where (hopefully) a crash has been narrowly averted by really, really, hard braking. Luckily for us each time we came upon traffic (three times) we were at a passing space and we could see them well in advance. I tried (unsuccessfully) to follow a white van, knowing that they would run interference for us but could just not keep up!

The road goes on foreverThe Half Moon hove into view exactly on time at 6pm and is set in an ideal bucolic location, as quiet as you could wish for. I'll report on the beer and food later. £30 for the night, including breakfast, is, in this country as good as you get.


Well the beer was excellent but the bar was cold and I think quiet would be a fair description. The Rough Guide perhaps overplays its hand but then we understand that the pub has changed hands in recent times. Essentially the food was plain but quite edible, my room (next to the bog) is very mostly very quiet but you get the benefit of every plumbing noise, the rooms have heaters and electric jugs and are well presented, the views truly rural.

I probably wouldn't stay here again. The noise from the bog is just so loud in my room! If you're thinking of staying check the location of your room relative to the bogs very carefully.

There'll be no surprise that cell phone and internet have yet to make their way to this part of the planet, hence the delay in blogging.