This was an easy flat day along the Severn valley. It was sunny and hot. I rejoined the ODP by walking down to the Montgomery canal. This used to connect the Llangollen canal to Welshpool and was originally planned to form part of a canal that would extend the network up to Ellesmere Port. Only part of it is navigable now. There are said to be otters in the section near Welshpool but I didn’t see any. The first part of the towpath was through Welshpool, passing the backs of houses and then an industrial estate, hidden by a high fence. Once outside Welshpool there were fields of sheep on the left bank. I walked under trees which gave some shade from the sun that was hot even though it was only 10am. A man in a small boat passed me, stopping to clear reeds from the side of the canal. He told me he was able to sail as far as the lock at Pool Quay but was then impeded by a low bridge. I watched him navigate a swing bridge.
After about 3 miles I arrived at the hamlet of Pool Quay. I left the canal here, crossing farmland to find a path built on a modern flood defence embankment built above the river Severn. The flow was very slow, it will get a shock when it gets to Gloucester and meets a Bore coming the other way (see Lejog day 31)!
To the South I could see along Long Mountain and I could now appreciate the appropriateness on its name. To the North-east were the Breidden Hills, an old volcano. There is an iron age hillfort on the northernmost summit, partially destroyed by a quarry. On the summit I could just make out Rodney’s pillar, commemorating Admiral Rodney’s victory over the French in 1782. It was built by Montgomery Landowners who supplied oak for the fleet.
I followed the embankment for several miles. Most of the fields had cows grazing. Many of them were standing on the embankment but they let me pass without showing any interest in me. I walked past the village of Rhyd-esgyn where a cottage owner had placed a table and chairs in the shade of a clump of trees and there was homemade cake for sale. I sat in the shade and enjoyed a slice of light fruit cake. Delicious.
Not long after the village I turned off the river by a sluice gate to walk along the side of the New Cut to Derwas Bridge. There was no water in the cut so I assume it is there to protect the village in times of flood. In the next field farmers were herding cattle and driving them into an adjacent using 4 wheel drive vehicles. Not as romantic as the horses used in wild west movies but very effective.
The way forward lay across fields and, for the first time today, I was accompanied by the Dyke. The path led to the village of Four Crosses. The village is said to get its name from the Roman Roads that used to cross the area. There is a legend that when the local saint (St Tysilo) died, there was an eclipse of the sun and the shadow of a cross fell on the four sides of the church. Sadly, like several that I passed on the ODP, the village pub is now closed but I was able to get a cold soft drink and an ice cream from the garage.
I left the village to the north, crossed under the A road and rejoined the Montgomery canal which took a 2 mile loop to get to Llanynynech. This was very pleasant. To the west, the hill of Bryn Mawr appeared, the hill fort on the top hidden by trees. I passed an old salt mill; now a private home, I think, with the old crane posts still intact.
The canal and towpath crossed the Vyrnwy acqueduct. Just after the acqueduct the canal appeared to come to an abrupt halt as it crossed the B 4398, only to re-appear on the other side of the road. It then continued past the locks at Carreghofa, the lock gate can be seen through the bridge.
As I curved round to the east the Llanmynech rocks appeared, I will go up here tomorrow. As I approached the village the chimney of the Hoffman Kiln came into view. Three are only 3 Hoffman Kilns left in the UK. These were huge chambers with multiple furnaces used for firing bricks. I continued along the canal to the village and the Dolphin Inn.