The Mary Jones Walk



In 1800 a 15-year-old girl named Mary Jones who had saved for six years walked more than 26 miles through the wilds of North Wales to buy a Bible in Welsh. When this weaver's daughter came to the home of Thomas Charles (the man in the chair) and discovered the last Bible had been sold she was distraught and broke down in tears. He was able to sell her one he had promised to someone else, but he was so moved by a young woman's hunger for the book in her own language he set wheels in motion which led to the founding of the modern-day Bible Society. Today, 2,479 languages have part of the Bible - leaving 4,421 without a single segment translated. A great galvaniser of people in my local church hit upon the idea of raising some cash for the society at the same time.



We headed up to Bala. The four drive spun by in a blaze of sunshine. The scenary switches around a bend from the lush, rolling, almost-West Country pastures of Montgomeryshire into the austere but Tolkeinesque peaks of Gwynedd.



We spread the walk over two days, and Saturday featured blue skies and summertime vibes. The walls of Mary Jones's house and all of her chapel still stand, as we meandered it was great to yak with friends new and old.





Unlike in so much of the UK, this was not a path beaten by a thousands other tourist-pilgrims that day. One of the most striking aspects of the scenary was the isolation in which farmers and their families live.



Sure, there was a spirit of glee on a sunny day. But to make this trek alone - perhaps aged 15 and carrying six years' of savings - would have been a very lonely trek.



I was so enjoying the conversation that I walked smack into this tree and ended up flat on my back. Actually, it was quite nice to lie down for a while.



The next day, after great food and wine, a smaller group of us continued for the second leg of the trek. The sunshine was gone but in the drizzle different aspects of the terrain were revealed.



We met one farmer and probably a few thousands sheep. Their bleating fills the valleys like the cry of seagulls along a cliff.





It was splendid to be joined for this leg of the hike by Brian, a man with a great sense of direction and a penchant for colourful shirts. He regularly cycles 40 miles a day so this was a simple stroll.



When Bala lake (Llyn Tegid) swung into view it was clear the walk was nearly done and the sun came out.



My toes were glad to stop walking; they had turned the colour of a Christmas reindeer's nose. But my lungs were full of air sweeter than anything Chanel can put in a bottle. Brian and I drove home and left the Mary Jones's trail to the isolation she ventured into with a clutch of coins and a heart of hope.