June 19, 2019. 11.5 miles. Church of St. Cadoc, Pandy, Black Mountains, Hatterrall Ridge, Llanthony Priory.
One of the wonderful, small highlights of this stretch is the Church of St. Cadoc in Llangattock Lingoed. Surrounded by a 3-4-foot stone wall and a green yard of tombstones from the 18th and 19th centuries - and earlier - the small, white church has a beautiful, square tower tht seems to be typical of Welsh churches. Inside, the darkness and quiet are solumn and comforting. The remnants of the 15th-century painting of St. George are stunning in this modest chapel. I had the feeling of community in the space and a real sense of prayer - and I know at least one of our group did pray there. The church's earliest dedication dates back to the 6th century. The coffee for walkers in the back of the church was warm and appreciated.
We lunched at the Old Pandy Inn in Pandy, with some good pub food. Peyton treated his blisters - the first of the journey - and we got back on the trail.
We had good views of The Skirrid, a long hill looking somewhat like a giant whale.
After Pandy, the afternoon was a climb up Hatterrall Hill, 1,743 feet. It was a challenging climb and slow-going for some in the group - not as steep as the climb up to White Castle, but much longer. But the views at the summit were spectacular. The day was warm with a mix of sun and clouds and a good breeze on the hill. Small squares of farmland stretched out to the east, and stark hills to the west.
Also on the top we saw several wild horses, some with incredibly long manes covering their eyes, like the bangs of a 1960s pop star.
Walking was easy and lovely along the ridge.
At the end of the day we took a downhill turn to the left off the main trail to Llanthony, where we explored the beautiful ruins of the Llanthony Priory. There's a small - really small - pub there, and while the others ate, I wandered around the priory, imagining what it must have been like 400 years ago. It's in a stunning setting, with the hills towering around you and the arches of the priory rising straight over your head. A sublime spot to sit and think.