Kate Humble: A proper holiday? It's a lovely walk on a sunny day near home

 

What is the definition of a holiday? Does a proper, bona fide holiday need to involve suitcases, new outfits and a trip to Boots for sun cream? Do you have to go away from home and, if so, for how long? Unsure, I looked it up in the dictionary: "A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done."

In that case I've had the perfect holiday – perfect because it involved no planning, no packing, no airports or ferry terminals, and no sitting in traffic for hours on a motorway. The weather was guaranteed because it was sunny when we woke up – the first sunny day in weeks – and the forecast told us it would stay sunny for the entire length of the holiday we'd just decided to have. Water bottles, a couple of bananas, dog leads, a well-worn Ordnance Survey map and we were ready to go.

The Monnow Valley walk starts in the Welsh border town of Monmouth, just up the road from where we live. It follows the route of the pretty river Monnow, from its confluence with the more famous River Wye, for 40 miles to the literary festival-friendly town of Hay-on-Wye. It would be easy enough to do the entire length of the walk in three or four days, but we've been doing it sporadically, whenever time allows, walking sections of the marked route and then finding our own way back. On this day we started just outside the village of Rowlestone. With the dogs scampering delightedly ahead, and the unfamiliar feeling of sunshine on our faces, we walked up a lane, clambered over a stile, and then climbed up a steep, sloping field to be rewarded by far-reaching views across the patchwork of fields and woods – the dramatic outlines of Hay Bluff and the Skirrid sharp against the blue sky.

After the village of Walterstone, we descended towards the river, crossed it by a wooden footbridge and started the steep, breathless climb up the other side of the valley, the hedgerows crowded with wild flowers and birds furiously foraging to feed their young.

A narrow path alongside a millstream brought us to the Herefordshire village of Clodock. The pub proved to be a gem. Run by the same family for generations, the Cornewall Arms serves drinks through a hatch and we joined the regulars for a pint of local cider in a room more reminiscent of a family sitting room than a pub. Across the road the old watermill was having an open day. There are records of a corn mill here dating back to as early as the 13th century, but the building standing now dates back to the 17th century, lovingly restored by its owners to full working order. We joined a tour, followed by tea and cake made with the mill's own flour. Fortified, we started our return walk home, relaxed, carefree, and sun-kissed.

No work had been done and we felt thoroughly festive – a proper holiday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness