Picking up from where I left you in Donkeys, steam trains and sconish moments, you'll know that it wasn't until 1.30am that we got back to the B&B to be greeted by that all too familiar sound donkeys make before they bray. We all tried to muffle our laughter in the stillness of the morning hoping that the donkeys didn't wake anyone... only to be woken up ourselves at 5.30am by the sound of a donkey braying. It did bring a smile to my face!
After a hearty full English breakfast, it was time to give Chico and Flo a groom before Hannah loaded the saddle bags with today's picnic which included fresh scones with jam and cream. We were certainly going to earn our lunch today as it was pretty much uphill all the way back to Chico's paddock.
Just like yesterday Chico knew he had a job to do and waited patiently while Hannah made final adjustments before we set off for our adventure taking a new route Hannah hadn't been along before so it was all new ground we were going to be covering most of the way.
It wasn't long before we found the first bridleway totally overgrown. We tried walking up alongside to find no means of getting back on track at the top, so it was a quick look at the map for an alternative route. Back down we went with both donkeys trotting downhill. They certainly reached the bottom before we did and were waiting for us to open the gate to carry on our journey.
Upwards we climbed with Chico doing his usual stop at every gateway. He strikes such a handsome pose as he gazes across the endless fields to the distant mountains. It would be nearer the end of our journey that we would take in a breathtaking view across Cardigan Bay in one direction and the mountainous ranges in the other direction, one of which was Snowdonia.
Upwards we still climbed reaching an old stone cottage and what seemed to be a dead end. Checking the map, we were clearly in the right place so Hannah and Jo went on ahead just to the left of the cottage on what looked like an overgrown path. It was definitely the right direction so Chico and Flo walked on up savouring the hedgerow delights. From tackling overgrown shrubs, nettles and thistles the path just opened in front of us on to green hills and blue sky above us.
We made our way a little further before declaring it was lunchtime. Picture this... four people sat enjoying a picnic while two donkeys grazed around them. Here we all were soaking up the atmosphere taking in the beauty of the countryside. Listening to the sound of donkeys munching happily on the grass around us. Remember the steam train I mentioned yesterday? As if on cue, it made its way across the valley below with its wisps of steam billowing in the air above. We could easily have imagined ourselves living in a different era.
We were too full to eat our scones so we thought we would walk on and find somewhere else to stop. There were no plans, just somewhere we felt would be a good place and we laughed at the name we thought we would call it. It was to be the sconish moment. Any of us could declare that moment as we made our way onwards and upwards through fields, woodland and old drovers' lanes.
Reaching another section where we needed to make a decision which route to take, the donkeys clearly set off on their own path to the right of where we were heading. So it was off to collect them and bring them back. Well, that's what we thought... the donkeys had other plans!
No matter how hard we tried, Chico and Flo were adamant that they didn't want to walk the way we were going. Why didn't they want to walk through what looked like an old path which two banks either side? I was about to find out. Just ahead the path took a sharp turn to the right and it was just a quagmire and I soon found myself deep in boggy ground. Those two donkeys were steering themselves away (and us) from getting ourselves into muddy water. There was no easy alternative path around this other than an extremely high climb up through some woodland and an extremely difficult walk back down an elevated section. How I wished I was as sure-footed as Chico and Flo through at this moment in time.
With us all safely through this section and walking through a field full of butterflies, Jo declared it to be our sconish moment. Tired from the difficult path we'd just come through a flask of tea and fresh scones with cream and jam were definitely in order as we watched both donkeys disappear back down the hill... clearly in disgust of us not following them in the first place!
There were still a few more hills to go from this point onwards, before we reached the point where it was downhill all the way back to their paddock. There were still plenty of gateways for Chico to stop and gaze across and for both donkeys to taste the delights in the hedgerows and delicately nibble off the tops of thistles as we walked through the fields. As we walked buzzards and kites glided and soared on thermals above us.
Sensing we were nearing the end of our journey, both myself and Dave walked hand in hand in the company of two very special donkeys that had become part of our lives – Chico and Flo – both leaving tiny hoof prints in our hearts.
New friendships had been made with Hannah and her mum Jo. Laughter and donkey tales had been shared between us... all for the love of donkeys.