Rob lent me his old down jacket – the one Christian found in the dog shop. I wore it like a hug in the moon cold night and the frosty morning when my tent poles were painful to touch.

I camped on the common under Black Mountain, it was closely grazed by ponies and sheep and Welsh Black cows, trembling gold in the dawn. The air was cold in my lungs, and thin and bright enough to shimmer my soul.

towardsmonmouthIt was so early I had the view to myself; Hay Bluff saturated in blue mist to the west, and to the east the valleys dissolved and vanishing in and out of silvery clouds.

At the top, wind buffeted round the toughened tussock grass, the brown heather and the black mud. A black grouse hurtled into the air and larks rose when the wind dropped. Herefordshire hills were lying in tissue paper clouds, fifty shades of grey like whales in a silver sea, and distant tarns shone like bright coins.

It was fifteen miles or so along the ridge to Pandy; down there where the sun was hot, the grass green and the celandines gleaming.