I awake at my usual walking rhythm time at dawn and am immediately aware of how uncomfortable I feel. My heart beats out the pattern of adrenalin that I associate with fear. I have finished my blog already so know I can sleep till 8 a luxury I haven’t had this trip. I doze fitfully waking every half hour, each time noticing the presence of adrenalin each time. I feel unwanted here, it gives me a flavour of how it must be to be rejected for your race – somehow I gave breached unbreakable rules.
Though on the surface everything is perfect; spotlessly clean room and en suite bathroom, delicious food, and silent surroundings, the atmosphere is not pleasant. Over breakfast the foursome on the other table talk politics, clearly Green in their outlook, it is encouraging to have a sense that our current government seem to have upset even those who in other respects might seem to be of their persuasion.
They describe a business which, out of a hundred employees above 80% are dishonest in some way and ask would anyone use the services of such a company. They are talking about our current government.
I like my companions, all but one of the men, who seems not to like that I have walked through Wales in my flip flops and keeps trying to make sarcastic comments. I hazard a guess that he feels somehow threatened by a woman undertaking such an endeavour in such a fashion, and don’t rise to the bait, but feel sad that if it weren’t for him I might have got to talk to the others more.
The women ask where I am headed today and when I explain my dilemma, that I had planned to stay here today, haven’t heard from my next host as there is no mobile signal, and may need to catch a bus into Machynlleth, she suggests the man might take me as he is going to CAT today. He immediately says he isn’t going for hours yet and makes it quite clear this is not what he wants. Peter offers to get me the phone to see if the nearest pub, some 7 miles away, might put me up tonight.
Outside it is raining and the mist has come down. I can sense he is feeling a little bad now that what was to have been my rest day is now a walk in the rain, destination uncertain.
I refuse the phone, saying I will ask when I get there. I have already phoned ahead the previous night to check I can go there to write during the day when I was told I couldn’t stay here.
As I get ready to leave the light and airy breakfast conservatory room the talk amongst the others is an all boys together camaraderie concerning the rights to information about good management of wood that Peter has written and retained the rights too. There is laughter that he has been canny enough to keep on earning from a document he wrote for his own use and allows others to use.
I pack ready to leave and Peter pays me cash back for the second night I had paid for in advance to ensure a peaceful rest day having finished the first stage of my journey. I had hoped to wash clothes here, catch up on correspondence, and allow the learnings from the walk up the Wye to soak in.
Now I am ready to leave this ancient farm that has been retrofitted to the highest standards, and am able to recognise the good that is being done whilst at the same time and even more strongly aware that it is inner transition that really counts. A warm friendly empathic welcome would have made all the difference between me recommending this place as a first class eco establishment and deciding that it really cannot be included in my warriors way walk to recommend to others. It is rather a reminder that outer transition alone can never make a difference. It is however, a sign that times have turned. Those with money and land are insuring that their actions are those of protecting the environment and our heritage. Just a few years ago this might not have been the case. I have mentioned peak oil and heard the men explain to their womenfolk what this means.
As I leave Peter holds the door for me and beneath his policeman’s old school demeanour I sense that there really is a sense of responsibility that is not altogether comfortable with me walking off into the rain and the mist.
I set off. It is not cold in spite of the inclement looking weather. It is an easy walk to Stay little through the remains of a once dense forest that now has native woodland growing up out of the scrubland left behind after clearing. I am still uncertain what to do beyond to head for the pub at Dylife. Perhaps I can walk to Machynlleth over the mountain road. At the turn off, a couple of miles from Dylife, the signpost says its 11 miles. I have walked 6 already, the mist if anything is lower, and there is a wind getting up.
I resolve to get to Dylife and then take it from there. A mile along the road a viewpoint is marked and an amazing information board proclaims a spectacular gorge, the map says waterfall, the view I have, is of nothing, absolutely nothing. The mists shroud the whole valley and have begun to sweep over the road now too. Still a mile to go and the wind is pushing at me and I am glad not to be close to a precipice.
The rain has stopped, it never really did much more than mizzle since I set off but the mist is my concern. I have climbed 100 feet already and will climb more before I make it over the tops to Machynlleth. It doesn’t seem sensible to go on another 9 miles in these conditions.
When I see the turn off for the Star inn and turn off the road the wind is gusty and the road behind me obscured in whiteness.
With relief I see the inn with its bright yellow door is a minute from the road end. I knock at the door, I have been told they don’t keep regular hours and that they will let me in when I arrive. No one hears me knock so I go around the side of the building to try again, noticing that the wind cannot be felt here and that I could shelter here for a while anyway.
But Louise sees me and beckons me back round the front and opens up.
From here on my day becomes magical and I feel I am back in the world I know. It is as though I strayed off the path and entered a parallel universe when I went to Cwmbiga but now I am amongst like minded folk once more.
Louise, who has said I can come as long as I don’t want to talk, and is happy that I am a writer and just want a quiet space and some lunch, and I chat away nineteen to the dozen. It is great to hear her story and of how an old drovers pub in the middle of nowhere has become a residential centre for transformation.
The Star inn, as well as offering bed and breakfast for walkers and cyclists, is also Serendipity, where you can come and learn how to free yourself from the childhood belief systems that block your creativity and capacity for achieving the things you want to succeed in in life.
It is an amazing mixture, down to earth and normal enough for the most mainstream of customers to feel at home, yet at the same time offering the most transformational work. Flyers for up and coming workshops are laid out on the bar. Louise teaches the work of Louise Hay, the American Heal Your Life teacher who advocates that every physical malady is an indication of unhealthy thoughts that are often not conscious but rule the way we live.
The Star is the perfect place for me to have ended up sheltering at. A place of inner work just sitting by the roadside in the middle of rural Wales halfway up a moutainside deep in the Cambrian mountains at 400feet. As we talk of the purpose of this warriors way walk, to join up places offering guidance for those who want to embark on a journey to know themselves better, I remember Jess from Llanrindod and Pete in Penault on the northern pilgrims route to Bardsey who i havent met yet, and the plan to reopen the old pilgrims routes in Wales and to link centres of inspiration and inner guidance.
Louise’s inner voice had been telling her to come to Wales for several years before she heeded it and found the old pub in great need of repair but within her price range. Within a short time the roof blew off, but the insurance company helped with that and the upstairs rooms were renovated with the rest of the money she had. I tell of my inner voice which is telling me to seek out a place where I can offer refuge, here in Wales. I realise that something’s exciting is happening. The call I have heard has been heard by others too and the network of centres of refuge where people can begin to know themselves better from the inside has already begun. I feel the importance of my story book guide to these places.
I eat homemade curried parsnip soup, banana loaf and peppermint tea and a little dog sits close by me and I feel his companionship.
Then Shivam, from the nearby Spirithorse who I have hoped to stay with replies to my email. He will to collect me on his way back. He is away from home further south in the lovely Rhayader, where the charity shop is a community shop and the charity in question the local community itself, it all feels very synchronous. Louise has not met the Spirithorse people yet, but would like to. I find it interesting that in this tiny place smaller than a hamlet by English standards, and yet not by the Welsh, who have always lived in spread out homesteads and smallholders, there should be not one, but two places where folk can come and do an inner journey.
My own journey begins to take on a magic again, the flow of the first intention I put out is guiding me to the right people and places. I feel thankful to Peter at Cwmbiga for his role in ensuring I ended up at Serendipity.
Seren, I learn, as I recall I have been taught once before, by Naomi from transition Wolverhampton who called her daughter by this most auspicious name, means Star in Welsh. It certainly is a shining star in this bleak misty day for me.
I get an email from Perry my host from transition Hereford, to send me the link to the eco housing co-op in Kingstone which is actively seeking members to buy in and build a passiv haus.
I remember I am not alone. The fearfulness of the bleak walk through the mist from Cwmbiga dissipates. Friends old and new surround me, virtually and actually.
Contact Serendipity here: