5 o'clock on the border of England and Wales, surrounded by head-torches and anticipation. Simon and I set off down the road to start the Across Wales Walk.
The adventure began the day before as we left the south coast after lunch arriving in Ludlow late afternoon. After a couple of attempts we found a pub serving food and sat down with lasagne and chips to have another look at the map and come up with a realistic finish time. After registering at Clun village hall we spent a slightly nosiy night sleeping on the hall floor until 3:15.
The sun came up as we ran along the Kerry Ridge way, the start of an amazing day. We ran the first couple of sections with a group of runners who had done the route before and enjoyed their company and their help route finding.
After Check Point 1 we reached a high point above Llandinam and ran over 2 km a wide track downhill all the way to the village. We crossed the River Severn for the first time and joined the Severn Way.
After a short road section we reached Check Point 2, otherwise known as Jaffa Cake heaven. Our new friends left us after the check point as the hills started to rise before us with great views over Bryn y Fan.
The route takes you along the side of the Nant Gwestyn with a very steep drop down to the trees and stream below. I tried to point out the view down to his left but Simon seemed focused on looking straight ahead.
As we dropped into the valley of the Severn again we had a new experience. In the past, out running, we have been attacked by dogs, cows and seagulls. In a narrow enclosed lane we were attacked by a sheep which charged at Simon. I decided that cowardice being the better part of valour to leap into the hedge while he defended himself with his Garmin Forerunner.
We followed the long road into the Hafren Forest where we reached Check Point 3. This provides toilets and soup, both greatly appreciated before we started the climb up to Plynlimon. Once you leave the forest the long trudged up the tussocky grass to the first col starts and then on to the summit. The views from the summit cairn were amazing back over the route we had come and over Nant-y-moch (Valley of the pigs) reservoir. We dropped down to the road around the reservoir and on to Check Point 4.
By this stage we had covered about 32 miles and we were now walking and were being caught by the faster walkers. Leaving the road we covered a beautiful section over the scree path and down the Leri valley to Check Point 5.
Here I made a mistake. On offer at Check Point 5 is the famous Bread Pudding, the recipe is available on the acrosswaleswalk.co.uk site. In my confused state I missed it. Simon, who is no fool, had 3 bits and the next morning told me how delicious it was.
The last stretch was 7 road miles to Clarach Bay, to finish in 14 hrs 10mins. A minibus then takes you to Aberystwyth University Halls, where a bath and a massive plate of fish and chips await.
A fantastically organised event which covers the whole weekend. The event is obviously a favourite with a lot of people and I can see why. The route which covers a range of contrasting beautiful country, the friendly participants and the support from marshalls all make it worth coming back.