A story of two brothers walking together along Offa's Dyke,
united through pain and exhaustion -
with a few laughs along the way.
A hike where the unpredictable becomes predictable
and the unfamiliar becomes familiar.
Read on and discover Ken and Paul's
experiences as they trek along

Offa's Dyke.
(Rebecca and Bethany Davies)
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OFF ON AN OFFA'S DYKE HIKE
A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS

Ken and Paul Davies

INTRODUCTION

It must be great to fulfill a lifelong ambition. Most people have one, many never get the opportunity of attempting theirs.

I recall my primary school teacher in Dolgellau, Mr Hugh Hughes telling us about Offa's Dyke, adding that there was a long distance footpath going along it, from south to north Wales. As an eleven year old, I remember thinking "I'd like to walk that one day!"

Time went by and many years later, 1980 in fact, I saw and purchased a guidebook covering the walk. I phoned my brother Paul and asked him whether he would like to accompany me on the expedition. "You must be joking!" he exclaimed, being quite a sensible lad. After some discussion and map reading, his remark changed to "When do we start?"

So, on the 5th September 1980, two intrepid raw novices to the art of hiking, walking and camping, set out on their perilous journey through pain barriers, blisters, wet clothes, wrong turnings and also much enjoyment! 

However, before the tale begins, here's a bit of history about Offa's Dyke itself.

OFFA
FACTS

Offa was the King of Mercia from 757 to 796 and he, together with his experts, designed a Dyke along the Welsh border, to separate if from England, then known as Mercia.

It is believed that the task of building the Dyke was given to the landowners. They were responsible for their particular section of the Dyke. A glance at Ordnance Survey maps of the various sections of the Dyke will show that many sections are now missing. This is probably due to erosion and also the possibility that some landowners were better equipped, or keener to build the Dyke than others, which must have been accomplished mainly during peace time.

The Dyke is basically an earthwork which was the frontier, probably with various roads or pathways 'through' the Dyke to enable trading between the two 'countries'.

Any Welshman would give his right hand to get across the border, and in one region, he literally had to! Anybody found on the 'wrong' side of the Dyke would lose his right hand and he would be sent back home 'to lick his wounds'.

The Dyke was never completed. It started at Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow and stopped just short of Prestatyn, at Rhuddlan wher Offa died in 796. A Welsh poem entitled 'Morfa Rhuddlan'  describes a battle which took place in 795 and ended in a Welsh defeat.

Finally, as previously stated, Paul and I were both novices to the game of hiking and certainly to cover a long distance footpath of some 180 miles! Consequently, we needed to purchase several items of equipment to embark on our mission.

We would therefore like to thank the following for reducing our initial outlay, by very kindly loaning their equipment; Pam Evans, Pam Jones and Pete. Many thanks to Mrs Shirley Jones and her son Phil of Llandeilo for supplying transport to Swansea and to our parents for not trying to discourage us.

We kept a diary each evening at the end of our daily trek. It is reproduced here, exactly as written, 'warts and all'! Just a word of warning, please don't try this at home!

The walk was undertaken in two parts, Sedbury Cliffs to Knighton in 1980 and Knighton to Prestatyn in 1981.

Ken and Paul Davies 

Day 1
5th September 1980
OFFA WE GO!

Our start was much later than had been hoped, thanks to the British Rail timetable.
Mrs Shirley Jones kindly supplied our transport by car from Llandeilo at 10.30 am to Swansea to catch our train. We said our farewells to Dad and Mam, who were able to to travel with us to the station.

We boarded the train, changing at Newport, having met a young lad who was returning to Germany after a spell at home with his parents. We got talking about hiking and he gave us several useful tips, such as wearing socks over our shoes to cross slippery rivers or streams, dipping matches in wax to keep them waterproof.

We had a five minute wait at Newport for our Chepstow connection and enjoyed a last good hot water wash before reaching our destination.

Arrived at Chepstow. Purchased camera films in a nearby chemist shop and some fruit, while awaiting a bus to take us to Buttington Tump stop, where the driver pointed us on our way. We still managed to go the wrong way, heading towards the sea for about half a mile, but returned to see the first of many white acorns which were to act as markers for us on our walk.


Photo and text copyright Mike Simms and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons Licence.
Sedbury Cliff Chepstow
Much less well known than Aust Cliff, on the opposite bank of the Severn Estuary, Sedbury Cliff exposes similar late Triassic to earliest Jurassic rocks.


Photo and text copyright Roy Parkhouse and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Offa's Dyke Long Distance Path - Southern End
This stone marks the southern end of the 168 mile Offa's Dyke Long Distance Path. The first part of the path runs downhill through the trees and over a small stream. The Severn Estuary and Sedbury Cliffs are directly behind the camera.

We reached Sedbury Cliffs and the start of our walk where we met a couple of lads who had just completed the walk, having set out from Prestatyn some days earlier.

We loaded our packs on our backs, which were heavy but quite bearable then, and with map (Offa's Dyke Path by John B. Jones) in hand, started on our way.

The first part was mainly the Dyke itself, which was quite well preserved and easy to follow, until reaching the built up area of Tutshill, where we encountered some difficulty. We were naturally very pleased to leave this part as we touched Chapel House Wood on the banks of the River Wye, walking on grassland again. We felt that we were truly on our way as we noticed the Severn Bridge slowly, but surely, disappearing in our wake.

OFFA FACTS
Thirty miles of earthwork can still be recognised along the 150 mile frontier between the English Midland Kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh Kingdoms along a line from the Severn Estuary near Chepstow, to the Irish Sea at Prestatyn.

After an hour and a quarter's walk, the path suddenly emerged on the edge of a deep quarry above the Wye, as we headed towards Wintours Leap, along a narrow, fenced path.

Wintour's Leap, allegedly so called after Sir John Wintour who escaped from an attack by Parliamentarian troups, by leaping his horse over the 200 foot cliff. From this viewpoint, we looked down river towards Chepstow and along the Laucaut Peninsula.

We soon stopped for a meal of hard boiled eggs, sausages and chocolate in a field before  joining the B4228. We could tell from the view that we had already covered a considerable distance. The pace had been very fast, too fast perhaps.

At this time we only had two metal water flasks and decided that we should always keep one of them full, and continue to refill the other as often as possible. We obtained our first refill from a friendly old dear in a nearby cottage adjoining the road.

A sharp turn to the left took us again into fields towards Dennel Hill Wood, where the path guided us onto the Dyke and a climb to Worgan's Wood. It was difficult to follow the path again here as we discovered when we ended up in a field of cows. I left Paul with the equipment (he was glad of the rest!) and retraced our steps until picking up the correct path and we continued on our way.


Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Offa's Dyke Path near the Devil's Pulpit

 We literally trudged along Shorn Cliff and reached the Devil's Pulpit, overlooking Tintern Abbey. The time was about 6.30pm. We made a cup of tea, which took some time. Had this not been the first time for us to use our lightweight calor gas stove, we would have turned the gas on a bit more! Our cuppa transpired to be rather luke warm!

We were now constantly on the look out for our first campsite. The land around here was very unsuitable. After some discussion, we decided that as tomorrow would be Saturday, we could get some supplies at Tintern and headed for a campsite near there.


The Devil's Pulpit
Photo copyright Steven Wibberley
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

My right foot was by now very sore from the constant rubbing of the new boots and was crippling at times. No, we had not broken them in beforehand! A bad start considering that this was our first day.

By now it was getting dark and we started our descent. We took a wrong turning and must have journeyed at least two unnecessary miles through woodlands and along more paths, one of which was very dark indeed. Our torch proved to be a saviour.


The Moon and Sixpence
Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

We passed a farmhouse with a woman by a caravan and headed towards Tintern, over a bridge and aimed for a pub meal.

The Moon and Sixpence supplied us the necessary refreshment, which we ate outside the pub - mainly to safeguard our rucksacks which we'd left there.

The landlord directed us to a campsite "only about half a mile away". We got there some two miles later, having pounded a busy, dark main road. On reaching the spot, it was closed! We had no alternative than to return to Tintern.

TINTERN ABBEY
In 1901 it was handed over to the Crown.
Currently occupied by the Department of the Environment, it is open to the public.
 


Copyright Richard Croft and licensed
for
reuse under this Creative Commons
Licence

Tintern Abbey stands in green fields on the banks of the River Wye. Founded in 1131 in the reign of Henry I, as an Abbey for Cistercian Monks. It was largely rebuilt in the 13th Century.
Henry VIII's Acts for the Dissolution of manasteries led to the Abbey's suppression in 1536. Its remains were passed on to the Earl of Worcester the following year.

It was now about 10pm and the only way we could find somewhere to stay was with the aid of the local constabulory, who phoned a nearby farm - the one we'd passed earlier, who put us up without difficulty.

We were truly shattered and had to erect the tent in total darkness. Good old Paul was busy watching  the night sky and admiring some moving lights. Fortunately I was still strong enough to manage on my own. Unrolled the tent, flattened it out, pegged it out, erected the tent poles.

"There's another light over there!" said Paul unassumingly.

The tent was eventually up. I threw everything inside - including Paul. I felt very much like leaving my feet outside! We slept well - we had no choice. The farm dog was barking as we settled down in our portable home. No doubt he, like Paul, could see lights - ours! 

Day 2
   6th September 1980
EARLY PROBLEMS

We awoke at Tintern Farm, where we had camped overnight. Our equipment was soon packed away in our rucksacks. Today's breakfast was a rare delicacy - a currant bun and honey!

The sky was overcast - looked like rain, so we donned our bight orange protective clothing, prior to re-visiting Tintern - in daylight this time. We purchased a two litre plastic bottle of pop, which would be very useful for storing water.

We phoned home to say all was well and left Tintern at 9-15 am. Retraced our steps for a while until turning off to follow the River Wye again.

My sore foot soon played up again, and in a final effort to ease the pain from constant rubbing against the new shoes, I decided to cut the new leather. A difficult decision to make, but it worked - an instant cure.

The bank of the Wye was very pleasant and we took some 8mm film shots. Walked through 'polygorum cuspidation', a type of large foxglove - they were marvellous looking flowers, but we did not have the energy to take a photo - so we enjoyed a drink instead.

We were going very well up to now, with only mild blisters to think about, although Paul's rucksack straps were cutting into his shoulders from too much weight. Followed the river around, passing Llandogo on the other side - we were only a few strides from there last night!

Breakfast (proper) at 11-30.

Breakfast consisted of beans, boiled egg, large pork pie, crisps, crumbled bread rolls - no margarine, this had melted in the tub, kept in a plastic bag, and pop.


Copyright Tim Heaton and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons Licence

Reached Bigsweir Bridge which is about 150 years old and stretches 160 yards across the River Wye.


We joined the A466 for a few yards, then along a 'B' road which rose sharply to 'The Fence', before rejoining the Dyke. This was to be the best sight and walk of the Dyke to date, with drops of between 30 and 40 feet to the left, through wooded territory and flat landscape to the right.

OFFA FACTS
There is usually a ditch on the Welsh side of the Dyke and a bank thrown up from it on the Mercian side.
On some stretches, the bank still stands 20 feet high above the bottom of the ditch, but in others it could never have been more than 12 feet high.
Some stretches of very low 'boundary bank' have no west ditch.

Along a path which was covered with stones, roots and trees. We trudged on quite well through enchanting areas called Quicken Tree Wood, Creeping Hill and Moon Grove.

The weather had improved and we were soaked through perspiration. This slowed us down a bit and after traversing the wooded areas, we stopped for a breather and a change of clothing. We'd foolishly worn long trousers and jeans. The latter garments were drastically doctored to shorts. Our feet were sore and blistering nicely. Our money had gone all soggy in our pockets.

We continued in our cooler condition and made excellent ground with the aid of cool breezes. The pace again was good.

On reaching Highbury Farm we saw a perfect view of the next few miles ahead of us, including Lower Redbrook and Monmouth. Here we decided that we must get salt before attempting the Black Mountains, for fear of dehydration.

Paul overlooks the village of Lower Redbrook.

Then disaster. We noticed that a strap was splitting on one of the rucksacks. This fact was to change the course of our journey. Would we reach Monmouth and get repairs done, or would we stop here, mission having failed?

We rejoined the A466 at Lower Redbrook and replenished our water at the local garage. We were now up to four litres supply. We decided that we would try to make it to Monmouth and see whether we could purchase a new strap there.

We headed towards Monmouth along the A466, rather than take the official path, which ascended another hill. We felt that there would be less strain on the strap if we kept to level ground. We pushed ourselves very hard to get to Monmouth and the walk was indeed very painful on our feet - having been used to the cushioned grass begore. We arrived at Monmouth at 3-15pm and went for a rest (a well earned one at that!) by the river. Off came the boots - what a relief.

Left Paul to doctor his feet, having already seen to mine and headed towards the town centre to look for a new strap and some salt. All calls at sports shops were no use. I eventually found a cobblers shop, showed him the damaged strap and he informed me that it would take a week to repair. However, he sold me some cobbler's thread and a needle for 20 pence.

Returned to the river feeling a bit more cheerful now and treated the two og us to ice cream. Managed to buy some salt aswell. Continued through Monmouth, phoned home. Crossed the Monnow Bridge where some youths wolf-whistled at Paul.

Looking back at Monnow Bridge

Copyright Stuart Buchan and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Monnow Bridge, the only specimen left in Britain of a fortified gateway actually standing on a bridge, was built in 1270.

It is an unique fortification which is not part of the walled defence of Monmouth.

The gatehouse originally had a single arch. Pathways were cut into the walls when the bridge was widened. During the Chartist excitement in Monmouthshire around 1840, rough loopholes were made in the walls for muskets, in order to cover the western approach to the town


Walked down Watery Lane and were again on the look-out for a  camping place - hoping naturally that we would not encounter the same difficulties as last night.

The pain in our feet was pretty bad again by now. Struggled on past Bailey Pit Farm and set up our tent in a small enclosure over a style, overlooked by the deserted Bailey Pit Farm at 6 pm. The tent to our surprise was very damp, but fortunately it soon dried out. Supper consisted of Pot Noodles with crackers and hot tea this time! Urgent repair work started on our damaged strap which luckily was repairable. Decided to keep a close watch on all our straps in future.

We retired for an early night, listening to Radio 4 and writing the day's notes. Tractors were busily bailing in a nearby field and a horsewoman and her dog were patrolling our site.

Off to Pandy tomorrow at the end of today's walk and the mighty challenge of the Black Mountains. This we felt, would be the stiffest test of the whole walk.

Day 3
   7th September 1980
A FRESH START?

Breakfast today consisted solely of a litre of Kelloggs Rise and Shine between us. Preparing a meal for an early start was a bit of a chore. Packed our tent and loaded our equipment carefully examining our previous night's repair work to the ruckstrap strap. All appeared well - continuous checks were the order of the day. Took some movie shots as we bade farewell to our picturesque overnight spot, near Old Bailey Pit Farm.


Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Made good progress along forestry tracks through King's Wood. At one point we passed through Monmouth Parish, marked by a stone dated 1837.

Descended to Lower Hendre before taking a wrong turning near Grace Dieu Abbey. Bad map reading resulted in us walking on the wrong side of a stream and wondering whether or not we were tresspassing. Soon corrected our course and rejoined the correct route near Abbey Bridge.

Continued along paths and roads helping ourselves to nuts and blackberries on the way. The packs again were very heavy. Weather was on the cool side.

Offa's Dyke Path at Llanfihangel-Ystern-Llewern

Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Headed towards Llanfihangel-Ystera-Llewern, via the churchyard,  calling at Sunnybank Farm  for some more water - gave the young lad there 20 pence for his troubles.

Turned left at the Church in the hamlet, followed a stream and then along a 'B' class road, before heading for Grange Farm where we stopped for a breather and some more movie shots. Here we dined on stale currant bus - lovely - surprising what you eat when you're hungry!

The Black Mountains were now clearly visible in the distance, near Grange Farm and the weather looked good.

  
Our guide book advised us to be on the lookout for bulls - we naturally heeded its advice but we saw only cows and sheep. Paul reckoned he would not know a bull if he saw one! We entered Llandeilo United feeling very tired. Had a lengthy discussion about about a single stretch of wire which crossed a field. Was it an electric fence?

On to Llantilio Crosseny where we tried to phone home at 12-35, unsuccessfully.


Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this
Creative Commons Licence.


 Treated ourselves to a pint at The Hostry Inn. As we sat outside discussing our trek, an oldish chap came across for a chat. He was also doing the walk, but in sections, using transport and staying in 'lodgings' on route. We also treated ouselves to a wash at the Inn and the landlord kindly supplied us with a pen as we felt we needed a reserve.

Continued up a lane to Lower White Castle, where we stopped for a meal of hard boiled eggs, sausages, beans and cheese. Hampered by a bee during our 'nosh'. Helped ourselves to water from a nearby trough.

White Castle in the distance.

Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this
Creative Commons Licence.


Circled White Castle itself and took another movie shot - the first with the lens cap still on! Our pace had slowed down considerably due to foot problems again
.

OFFA FACTS
By the end of the seventh century,
Mercia had grown to be the most powerful of the seven Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.
In 757, King Aethelbald of Mercia was murdered by his own bodyguard and, during the few months of bloody civil war that followed, his blood relation, Offa, seized the throne.
He was known as King Offa II.

On to Caggle Street, followed by another rest. Here we loaded everything and decided that we just could not carry on as we had been doing. We rearranged everything. We cut our trousers down to size - half of the salt purchased in Monmouth was unceremoniously poured away - out went the Crawfords Cream Crackers, out went the toothpaste. Drastic measures these - but why continue with unnecessary items?


Copyright Chris Heaton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Old barn north of Caggle Street, passed by the Offa's Dyke Path


Two other intrepid Dykers passed as we rested. We struggled on with several rests for a while - we'd broken our stride and were finding it very difficult indeed now,

Two blokes in a car stopped us and asked whether we knew where the scrambling event was being held!?!

Entered a churchyard and were very wary of a couple of dogs who came to meet us. Woman cleaning steps by the Church.

We soon got hoplelessly lost, but heard and saw the scrambling event and headed in that direction absolutely shattered. Someone at the scramble pointed us on our way, up a hill in time to see the end of the scramble. Made good ground again to some hilltops and saw Pandy in the distance, and of course, the Black Mountains.

Approaching Pandy, looking for a suitable place to camp.
The Black Mountains look on.


Copyright Chris Heaton and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons Licence

Approaching Pandy from the South.
The Black Mountains beckon beyond.


Went to enquire at a farm for camping permission - no one at home. We felt we might be luckier in Pandy itself and went through a building estate to arrive at the Rising Sun Inn, with its adjoining campsite. Saw the two hikers we'd met near Caggle Street. Uncertain about our position on the map and decided to worry about that in the morning!

Enjoyed two well deserved pints of shandy at the Inn. Here we phoned home and also tried to contact Pete who had considered joining us around the Knighton area. Couldn't get hold of him. Undaunted, we indulged in a chicken barbecue with 'double dogs'. Another just reward. Replenished our water supply and had a good wash.

Bed at 9pm, ready for our demanding day tomorrow along the Black Mountains. We'd covered a fair mileage today. On the whole, particularly in the afternoon, it had been very hot - this certainly slowed us down.

 

Day 4
8th September 1980
THE BIG ONE

Pen won't write!

4 am - rain. It woke us both and our thoughts were that we were in for a bad, wet and possibly dangerous day. Back to sleep.

6 am - awake again - no rain - hope it keeps off. Plenty of trains and traffic going by. Washed and freshened up at the 'gents' on the campsite.
 
Enjoyed a cup of tea with honey as we collected our 'home' together. Had no real idea where we on the map but once we started, we soon established our position - thanks to the telegraph poles marked on the map.

Set out at 9 am, crossed river, rail and road and headed for the hills and the black yonder. Sky now clear - fortunately.

At this point we decided to take two hour shifts in carrying our packs, as one was rather lighter than the other.

Soon made good ground and we were above Pandy. This soon became a steep climb. Took glucose tablets.

Above; Leaving Pandy
Below; Ascending the Black Mountains, looking towards England


Climbed through the area of Crucorney Fawr onto the Hatterall Hill. Saw two walkers in the distance, who later became reassuring guides.

Black Mountains - view towards Wales.

The landscape on the Black Mountains becomes wild and remote, a place to avoid in mist and rain. A sinister legend tells of the Old Lady of the Black Mountains, said to appear at night or in mist, in the form of an old woman with a pot or wooden cane in her hand, and who, going before the wayfarer, will cause him to lose his way.

A friendlier spectre, siad to appear to travellers lost in the mountains between Llanthony and Longtown, is of a man who will guide them to the nearest road, before disappearing.

 
Walking this area reminded us of the Dogellau region of Wales. Continued climbing to some 1600 feet and stopped for a meal of a tin of pork and stuffing roll, crisps and water.

To our left was the valley which contained Llanthony Priory and to our right, the far off stretches of the old Mercia, or Herefordshire as it is now. One minute, we were walking on green springy turf, the next on heather, then short grass and bracken.

It was now 10-50 am and we swapped packs. The going was getting tougher but our feet were fine. This was a case of head down and hard slog, not knowing what lay ahead of us.

Passed several mounds of stones and Ordnance Survey columns. On route, we passed a lad from Bala hiking on his own, then two men who had set out from Hay some three hours previously. We also met a family group.

Pen-y-Beacon, Hay Bluff

Copyright Toby Speight and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Enjoyed a couple of water stops and had a quick look at some murky pools, shown as springs on the map. Good job we decided not to depend on these for our water. Plenty of mountain ponies and sheep about. We decided to don our tops as the wind was high and cold.


Copyright Shaun Ferguson and licensed for reuse under this
Creative Commons Licence.

Offa's Dyke Path with the route ahead heading to Hay Bluff


The ground became black with peat and was very soggy in places and at one point, I nearly lost a boot! The heavens opened later, although we had no rain clouds above us - the rain was being blown on to us from our left. This was it, we thought. Fine weather up to now - was this going to be our bad break? We continued with the rain hitting like machine gun bullets. Again, head down and plod on. 

The views up to now  had been magnificent, particularly on the Hatterall Ridges. Shortly after the rain had died down, we stopped for a meal which was undoubtedly the best yet: beef and onion soup, Lincoln biscuits, half a Yorkie bar each, a mouthful of honey and some panadols - just in case! All this devoured at a shelter. The soup took ages to prepare as our cooker was constantly the recipient of gusty blasts, which we tried our best to divert.

OFFA FACTS
Offa's Dyke is recognised as the greatest monument to the organising and engineering ability of British peoples in the centuries between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Norman Conquest, 600 years later. It is also recognised as the greatest monument of the 8th Century AD in the whole of north-western Europe, although this is the period of Charlemagne, when the present nations of Europe began to take shape.

We went on with our uphill climb through the bracken and bog, with clouds gathering on both sides. We lost our two guides in the distance somewhere.

Paul's attitude had changed. He was absolutely soul destroyed and fed up, but kept on, despite his increasing tiredness, but we both knew we had to carry on and that we must make Hay (while the sun shines!).

Hang gliders visible in the distance, and an old Hercules aircraft flew some feet - below us! We reached the final ordnance survey post of this part of the Black Mountains and saw two youngsters dressed in normal clothing - something they were to later regret.

We could see more storms brewing to our right and straight ahead of us as we reached Hay Bluff, before starting our zig-zag sescent. On reaching the bottom, we looked back at our magnificent achievement.

The skies opened and we became drenched, or at least would have been but for our protective clothing. Our feet reminded us of their existence.


Copyright Jim Barton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

An extensive view of the Wye valley opens up as height is gained on the route southwards towards Hay Bluff.

Carried on towards Hay on Wye, which had appeared as a welcoming sight from our high platform, with the River Wye lazying its way around. Tomorrow  we'd be following its course but our only thoughts then were how glad we were to have overcome what we'd decided beforehand would be our greatest test.

Followed a road for a short while and crossed some land past a burial chamber of some sort. Paul's foot was holding him back as I trudged on. Pau's comment was "How come you're so fit?"

Trudged through a farmyard, down a track and along another road, but Hay seemed no nearer. We covered some five miles from the foot of the Black Mountains to Hay on Wye itself.


Photo and text copyright Chris Heaton
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Final field before entry into the town. This looks away from Hay-on-Wye along the clear course of the Offa's Dyke National Trail - those coming in from Pandy, over 17 miles away across the Black Mountains will be fairly shattered by the time they reach here.


Arrived Hay about 4-45 pm and rewarded our journey with an ice cream and a pint of milk. Replenisged our food supply. Enquired in a sweetshop whethere there was a place to camp in the vicinity and the proprietor there directed us to Tirymynach Farm, where we ended up, and lo and behold, our two guides were also camped here!

We were that hungry, we polished off our rations and agreed to purchase some more tomorrow. Dined on beans, crisps, soup cheese, meat and egg.  Our clothes were very damp - we agreed to light our cooker inside the tent, under very close supervision in an effort to dry them out. Luckily we had a change of clothing. We were charged 30 pence for our pitch and paid £1, which seemed to be the going rate.

Paul siarad Cymraeg to the farmer, who didn't understand him! The toilets were around the back of the farmhouse and water tap at the tractor shed. Time for bed 8-45 pm. Everyehere by now very dark but there was an annoying dog barking.

Oh yes, switched the cooker off! 

 

Day 5
9th September 1980
PAUL'S PARADISE!

Another maginicent feat of walking today. All the way from Hay to Lower Harpton.

Set out at 8.45am and lef our two guides of yesterday behind, they were thinkning in terms of having an easy restful day today, unlike us.

Our attempts at finding a launderette in Hay to dry our damp clothes had failed yesterday and we thrrefore resorted to hang our clothes on the backs of the rucksacks to dry.

We retraced our tracks a short distance from Tirymynach Farm to the bridge this side of the Wye, where the Dyke path continued.

A quiet, peaceful setting along the banks of the Wye, through trees.

 The river was calm and a couple of swans were in the process of waking.  

Our feet felt fine, memories of yesterday's pain had left them.

Leaving the banks of the river, we continued to higher ground and joined the A4153 road temporarily, removing our orange protective tops prior to  continuing along a 'no through road' lane.

It was quite warm work. We saw three Ordnance Survey chaps who appeared to be checking their maps.

On then into Bettws Dingle, a pleasant wooded area, where we caught up with the two people who had passed us a couple of days ago near Caggle Street as we were shortening our trousers and also rearranging our packs.

We passed them and 'took the lead' near Penrhyn Farm.

By 10.30 we had reached 1,000 feet and took a photo of the Black Mountains. Our plan was to refurbish our supply of food at Newchurch. The way there was mostly along paths, roads and tracks, some wooded, but mostly hedged.


The Black Mountains - conquered!

The 8mm film we were taking of our journey had run out on the Black Mountains so we had therefore to wait for a chemist shop to purchase another. Sadly this part of the walk could not be filmed. Some day, we decided, we may be able to fill in the blanks

We reached Newchurch after a stiff descent, our feet were again causing us some concern.


Newchurch


Offa's Dyke signpost at Newchurch


Sadly, Newchurch bragged no shops whatsoever. Must now wait until Gladestry before buying supplies. Fortunately we were told that the latter was blessed with a shop! From Newchurch, we climber Disgwylfa Hill and our bearings went hay-wire, resulting in an unnecessary trek for half an hour, but we were soon on course again, when we stumbled on Grove Farm. We felt that our two fellow walkers must surely have passed us by now.

We descended slowly from 1,200 feet to Gladestry, have met another wayfarer going south - he was either Australian or Canadian, who remarked at our good timimg from Hay. He confirmed that there was an Inn in Gladestry which served food!

Continued on our journey, stopping only for Paul to remove a plaster from his blister. Our feet were throbbing nicely by this time as we trudged on, meeting one of the three Ordnance Survey bods we'd passed previously.


Photo and text copyright Chris Heaton
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

This is the narrow into Gladestry lane from Michaelchurch
adopted by the Offa's Dyke Path - entering the village from the south east.


Reached Gladestry at 1.00 pm and enjoyed a refreshing wash and an excellent meal of gammon, chips and salad for £1.00 at the Royal Oak.


Our rucksacks take a rest outside
The Royal Oak


The clock in the pub caused great amusement and lifted our spirits considerably!

Its second hand kept dropping dramatically from '12' to '6' on its way around and took its time climbing up the other side!

Our two intrepid companions joined us in the pub some 20 minutes later, having trundled on behind us. We discovered that last night they'd experienced the delight of a comfortable bed with breakfast to follow this morning!

Left the pub at 2 pm and replenished our food supply in a shop across the road. We felt much better now and ready for our attempt on Kington. 


Yew Tree Bank

We finally left Gladestry and had a slight climb through Yew Tree Bank up to the Hergest Ridge where yet again we met the Ordnance Survey fellow - he gets around you know!

The path through heather and bracken rose to some 1,300 feet.

Took photos of some mountain ponies with Hanter Hill in the background.

"The unspoilt countryside is fine, but couldn't they spoil it a bit with a good pub?"


Walking down Hergest Ridge above, with Kington visible in the centre.
The views on either side were yet again magnificent as we headed eastward towards Kington, which we later christened Paul's Paradise! It was a really depressing little town.

We bought some more films and had coffee, sandwiches and sausage rolls in a cafe, having been told in no uncertain terms that we must leave our packs outside.

It was a real 'Coronation Street' type cafe, with the local gossips all huddled together on the table and a waitress who couldn't be bothered whether she served us or not!

We phoned Pete to arrange a rendezvous tomorrow - but will have to ring again from Knighton as he wasn't available.

The next part of our walk was a real killer. We left Kington and ascended the local golf course, the highest in England and took a movie shot showing the way we'd travelled today.

The path skirted some woods until it eventually rejoined the Dyke itself at Rushock Hill.

After a few hundred yards we turned a bend and saw a fantastic view towards the west, including  Hergest Ridge (part of our walk), Herrock Hill, Evenjobb (where we would be tomorrow) , Kerry Hills and Cader Idris.

We were by now truly whacked - although we felt far worse than that! Our walk was beginning to tell on us, as we looked for somewhere sheltered to camp.


Paul on the Dyke at Rushock Hill


OFFA FACTS
Some stretches of Dyke with no ditch probably had large timber palisades and the whole earthwork was probably reinforced with timber, and with gates at the crossing points, but no trace of these features has been recognised.



Copyright Chris Heaton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Offa's Dyke Path descending down the eastern flank of Herrock Hill towards the valley of Hindwell Brook. This part of the walk is of the highest quality.


It was now 6-30 pm. Descended Herrock Hill with gorse bushes brushing our legs, but would you believe we could not feel a thing?

As we came down, we saw a large farm ahead - Lower Harpton, where we enquired whether was anywhere to camp overnight.

The farmer took one look at us and when we explained where we'd set out from this morning, he allowed ud to camp in his orchard - as long as we didn't mind the sheep! We set up the tent and enjoyed a fantastic cup of tea! The chocolate went down well too!

Doctored and wet-wiped our feet - I'm sure they said 'Thanks'. They've cetainly served us well up to now. It started drizzling as wet set up camp, but at the time of writing it has died off. The wind however is blowing strongly. Luckily we are in a very sheltered spot and hopefully quite safe.

8-25 pm and time for bed. Tomorrow Evenjobb, Knighton and then on to Churchstoke, or at least as far as possible.    

 

Day 6
10th September 1980
PAUL'S DREAM

Today was the first real day for it to rain as we were about to set off. We decided to cook and eat our breakfast 'indoors' - this time we wondered why we had not thought of it before - although Paul had mentioned it. The reason naturally was the great fire risk.

Paul was glad to be alive this morning having seen skeletons, keys and sheep when he closed his eyes last night. A terrifying experience for him.

We had to force tea and half a tin of sardines each down ourselves for energy and warmth. This was not a pretty sight but nevertheless a great meal.

Our reserve clothing was as damp as those worn yesterday. We therefore had to choose the driest items - not recommended. Packed everything into our rucksacks inside the tent prior to setting foot outside. We packed our tent in its soaking state - we had no choice.

Replenished our water supplies again and thanked the hedge which protected us from last night's strong winds. We set off at 8-15 am and posted some cards at a nearby post box.


Looking back at Lower Harpton Farm
and Burfa Bank

Our first climb was around a small hillock called Burfa Bank, the path then turned and we entered a wood. Walked past Burfa Cottage and rejoined the Dyke and took a movie shot of our damp and dank early morning surroundings.

Heading for Evenjobb, we collected a few harmless samples of stones from the Dyke as worthwhile souvenirs. We were at about 750 feet and the Dyke was in a good state of repair.

We didn't feel too bad at this time, the wind was blowing and our clothes, although damp, felt quite comfortable. Climbed Evenjobb Hill and the views on either side were limited to relatively close quarters due to the mist.


Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

View west along the lane. The steps either side of this cutting are well-maintained, as one might expect for a Long Distance Path.


Copyright Trevor Rickard and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

View north from the edge of Burfa Wood. Offa's Dyke follows the line of trees tracking diagonally up the hill to Granner Wood and then tracks through the wood behind Evenjobb Hill at the top right of the picture.

Passed Pen Offa, a farmhouse which offered camping and self catering facilities- we never seem to able to find these places when they are required!! On to Yew Tree Farm via Discoed where we changed direction towards Presteigne before heading for Knighton.

OFFA FACTS
Offa was the King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD. He brought all the southern English Kingdom under his dominion. His influence with the Pope was strong enough to make Lichfield an Archbishopric and references in the few surviving letters and Charters of those times show that he corresponded with Cjarlemagne and the Pope on terms of equality.

This was when the weather took a turn for the worse and we hit the start of a torrential downpour. Fortunately we were heading for higher ground and the shelter of the trees on Furrow Hill.  


Photo and text copyright Raymond Perry and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Looking east from the Offa's Dyke Path towards Green Wood.
The hills of North-West Herefordshire in the distance

Luckily the rain had died down and our only thoughts, apart from the great discomfort, were reaching Knighton. But we had much further to go and this seemed the longest, most tiring stretch other than the Black Mountains.

We continued to follow the Dyke past a barn on Hawthorn Hill. The local farmer still hadn't bailed his field and had actually by now missed out on the fine weather. The rest of the walk was unsheltered and along the ridge of the hill. Taking photographs became a chore as it was very diffiult to restart after a breaking, having 'lost our stride'.

Two lads passed us who had nothing to say for themselves. Usually other fellow hikers at least said 'Hello', most stopped for a chat, but these two walked straight past!

We felt pretty much the same as the miserable weather we were currently enduring.

However a bit of singing on the way improved our morale a great deal - but Knighton never seemed to come!

We passed the memorial stone of Sir Richard Green Price M.P..

We crossed the Knighton to Presteigne road, where two men in suits appeared to be oiling a gate. Having rejoined the Dyke for a short while we continued by road until reaching a kiosk which would be a make or break decision about calling it a day at the half way stage and returning to complete the walk next year, or continuing for some more miles in our saturated clothing.

We rang Pete's parents who informed us that he'd gone to Shrewsbury and would not therefore be joining us at this stage of our venture.

We had to come to an immediate decision. We felt that had Pete been prepared to join us, we would continue for as long as our time would permit.

However as this was not the case, we felt it best to return to Llandeilo by train and phoned home to tell them of our news.

Setting out again for Knighton, disappointment came our way when we saw we had a further two miles to trek. We trudged on for what seemed like hours.


Copyright Chris Heaton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The trail heading north towards the hill on Ffridd, before dropping down to Knighton. The line of trees conceals a very deep section of ancient earthwork.


Took some movie shots of the area as we descended into Knighton. Wednesday was half day here - we were very fortunate that we had not relied the local launderette's services.

Called at The Offa's Dyke Association Headquarters at The Old Primary School, West Street, where we purchased souvenirs and joined the Offa's Dyke Association.

Made it!
Half way stage at the Commemorative Stone at the Offa's Dyke H.Q., Knighton.
Rucksack on the left loaned by Pam Kelly -
on the right by Pam Evans. Both colleagues of mine in Newtown.
Our grateful thanks to both ladies

Mrs Beech recommended a meal at The Red Lion, Knighton, which we enjoyed having first walked the 200 yards or so to the Commemorative Stone.

At Knighton station we met up again with two chaps we'd been meeting over and over again during our walk. A fitting finale before jumping on the train for Llandeilo and home.    


CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST PART
OF OUR OFFA'S DYKE HIKE
5th to 10th September 1980.

Second part to follow.

 
KNIGHTON
Tref y Clawdd


Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The centre of the small border town.
The English-Welsh border is only a few minutes walk away,
down the hill behind the clock tower
.

OFFA'S DYKE ASSOCIATION
(click here to visit their website)

Geograph Britain and Ireland
(click here to visit this website)

We were unable to take as many photos as we would have liked to during our Offa's Dyke walks. Ours are not of particularly good quality, but mean a great deal to us - taken some 30 years ago now,
with just a basic camera.
Fortunately, thanks to the Geograph Britain and Ireland website, we have been able to include more recent photos taken by some of the photographers who have kindly contributed to their website.
The photos do not truly reflect the  path of 30 years ago, but are all areas where we walked.
The photographers have also given permission to reuse their photos by Creative Common Licence and are reproduced here accordingly.

We are therefore greatly indebted to;
Jim Barton, Jonathan Billinger,  Stuart Buchan, Richard Croft,
Eirian Evans, Shaun Ferguson, Philip Halling, Chris Heaton,
Tim Heaton, Graham Horn, Roy Parkhouse,
Raymond Perry, Dot Potter, Trevor Rickard, Mike Simms,
Toby Speight, Rick Stewart, Steven Wibbereley
Each photo is individually credited.
Please visit the site to see more of their remarkable work

The Geograph Britain and Ireland project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland, and you can be part of it.

 


 COMMENCEMENT OF THE SECOND PART
OF OUR OFFA'S DYKE HIKE
14th to 20th August 1981.

Day 7
14th August 1981
ON THE TRAIL AGAIN

Arrived at Knighton at 19.25, having had a lift here courtesy of Marian.

This was the start of our continuation along Offa's Dyke to Prestatyn. We were joined by our friend Pete, who would be coming part of the way with us. He turned up at 19.45 receiving a lift from Sue. He had smashed his water bottle which had delayed his start. His mother had gone to a local shop to purchase a new one!

We set out at 8pm from Offa's Dyke H.Q., waving goodbye to the girls.

Walked past the commemorative stone, down some steps and along the River Teme, before going through a farm where some campers had erected their tents.


Views of the River Teme near Knighton

There then followed a steep uphill climb with sweat pouring off. Our shoulders were already aching a bit as we traversed Panpunton Hill at a height of about 900 feet. Went along narrow footpaths edged by gorse bushes - saucepans clattering all the way. Passed some onlooking horses.

Panpunton Hill

Copyright Rick Stewart and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Walked near some parts of the Dyke and as it was getting dark at 9pm, decided to set up camp in a nearby field.

Paul prepared our meal of hard boiled eggs, beans, luncheon meat and bread rolls, with tea and honey, as Pete and Ken erected the tent. As we packed our belongings into the tent, we discovered great pools of water on the ground sheet. This was as a result of a leaking water bottle, which was banned from 'indoors'.

We'd only covered a short distance in just about an hour - during this time we'd noticed that we could see Knucklas continuously from the top of Panpunton Hill.

Said goodnight about 50 times. It was good to be back on the walk again, having looked forward to it for almost twelve months. 

OFFA FACTS
Offa was overlord in Kent by 764 and in Sussex and the district of Hastings by 771. Offa introduced a new coin, the penny. This was usually minted in silver and occasionally in gold, bearing his portrait and on later coins, his wife Cynethryth.


Day 8
15th August 1981
OFF TRACK

Awoke at 5.50 to the sound of light rain on the tent. A look through the window which had been left open for ventilation, revealed a slight mist behind us.

Our mist enshrouded tent on Cwm Sanahan Hill

We decided to make an early start, have breakfast somewhere on route and take the day as it came. Pete had advised us of the terrain to expect on the way to Churchstoke, consisting of several valleys, climbs and drops.So at 7am the tent and our belongings safely packed away, we set off - no cup of tea - nothing to eat. 

We missed the path straightaway - well Paul did anyway - due mainly to the mist making visibility difficult. We were still on Cwm Sanahan Hill.

The Offa's Dyke markers were not very good along here, which again didn't help.

Went on a detour, only to return to right spot and find the correct path lower down the slope.

Paul (left) near Brynorgan Farm.

The path took us through farms etc., and on approaching Brynorgan Farm, we saw a green tent very well camouflaged. Pete reckoned it belonged to a C.I.A. agent. A hand emerged in a waving fashion, followed slowly by a head. 

Early morning mist through
which we'd walked

A typical shot of views
around Knighton

We crossed a road, up a steep hill and passed Garbett Hall where we saw numerous geese (above). Ken was on his guard having heard several tales of leg breaking by these creatures!

It was now 8am, an hour's walking. We'd followed a farm track for some time, up Llanfair Hill, and along the Dyke itself (top left).
The earthwork along Llanfair Hill was excellent and well preserved (left), and reached the highest point attained by the Dyke itself at 1,400 feet.

We breakfasted at 9.20am in an old quarry, dining on bread rolls, bacon, cooked by gas fire (very slowly) and boiled in water. Three rashers were thrown away in total disgust and disappointment. Also devoured some more hard boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber and tea with Marvel and honey. Took some movie shots. Continued at about 10.10am. 

OFFA FACTS
Offa's greatest desire was that his son Ecgfrith should succeed him. Ecgfrith's coronation was the first recorded in England. He was King for almost five months and was himself succeeded by his cousin Cenwulf. 


We continued following the road until it rejoined the Dyke at Springhill Farm.

After two hours of the day's walk, we felt we'd done very well; the weather had been cool; we felt OK; and the packs on our backs were quite reasonable with the exception of the ridged rucksack containing the tent.

Paul and Ken constantly swapped over packs, Pete had so far carried his own.

 


Signpost; to the left; Stoney Pound,
Bettws y Crwyn and Anchor.
To the right; Clun 
Offa's Dyke Path  sign also visible

The followed a steep descent to Lower Spoad, having passed someone who appeared to be a Scout Master of some sort, walking the path from north to south.

At Lower Spoad we topped up with water, which wasn't very pleasant - seemed quite gritty. Here, Paul was refused the request of using a toilet, but was informed that as there was a pub in Newcastle, he should try there.

View towards Edenhope Hill
before entering Churchtown in the valley

Dyke sheltered by the trees growing on it, before Churchtown


Another steep descent - this time to Churchtown which was partly surrounded by trees called Churchtown Wood! We decided that we were a bit knackered, so we prayed.......sorry, paid a visit to the small Church, and enjoyed another of our deserved rests. 

 

The church at Churchtown

On entering the Church, we all signed the visitors book. At the front of the Church lay a large boulder. Pete said "There must be a story to this". Ken said "Yes".

The wall showed a list of Rectors dating back to 1552 (which is nearly 4 o'clock). Since then, Churchtown has had twenty four Rectors. We sat in the porch for a few minutes and enjoyed a drink and an apple. 

We left the Church only to start on another strenuous climb. Ken, the hero had full charge of the big rucksack now, Paul having just as heroically carried it most of the time that day. We were proud of our efforts.

Saw an old timer with two young children who also entered the Church. Pete had left his rucksack at the Church gate.

The next climb was by far the worst. It had been quite warm and humid all day. The path rose at one hell of an inclination - several stops were necessary. We were climbing Edenhope Hill.

Two fellows passed us.
"You've forgotten your packs lads!" we shouted.
"No, we're just walking for 2 hours - we live near here!"
This kept us amused for quite a while.

Descending Spoad Hill towards Newcastle

Newcastle 

Crossed the Newcastle / Clun road and had a bit of difficulty finding the track (badly signposted); then, through a farmyard and uphill gain past Bryn y Crach - a little white house - along Graig Hill and descending into a gully. The road double backed, went past a cottage and another uphill climb toward Hergan. From this point, we were on the look-out for bulls, but as it happened, didn't see any.

There then followed a heck of a climb, walking on the Dyke.


Rest


Risky tractor driving on the hill
near Lower Spoad

Ascending Nutwood for most of the time. Stopped several times for rests and drinks of water. The Dyke was cut by several steep sided valleys.

Saw some Germans before Middle Knuck, a relatively new Youth Hostel.

The path levelled off across the top of Edenhope Hill, before dipping into another valley (Dolfawr) where we traversed a dried-up stream. Before then, we took some shelter during some heavy raindrops.

Photo on the left is of one of the many styles along the Dyke path. This one has a white acorn depicted on it.

Two of the people we'd seen previously and had thought they were German, passed us - we changed our minds having again spoken to them - they were probably either Dutch or Danes. They were going to Montgomery today, having set out from Clun. 

Ascending Nut Wood, we kept an eye out for Rupert Bear - but to no avail. We were again on the Dyke and gradually climbing to some 1,200 feet.

Crossed the Kerry Ridgeway which we'd walked a month previously in preparation for this stage of our Offa's Dyke hike. This stretched from Cider House, Dolfor to Bishop's Castle - but that's another story. Hello Ron!

The Dyke path at Kerry Hill.......

........and Kerry Ridgeway

Descended Drewin Bank to the Cwm. We reached the road which evetually led us to our camp for the night at Lower Cwm Farm. Pete knew the owner, who kindly let us use a field.

View towards Mellington Hall, Churchstoke
from our camp at Cwm Farm

It was 4pm. We rested, cleaned and 'Germolined' our feet. Had a nosh; Smash, sardines, steak, ravioli, cucumber, hard boiled eggs, followed by crushed pineapple (the tinned variety!), nuts and raisings.

Our damp clothes (from body heat) were put to dry on the tent. Wrote the day's notes and said 'hello' to a friendly cow. We would have taken movie shots, but as Pete had dropped the camera on route and seemed to have broken it, we decided not to risk wasting expensive films.

Our mobile launderette

One of our rare visitors!

Pete may be leaving us tomorrow - time will tell. He claims it has nothing to do with having to carry the heavier of our two rucksacks. His seems to be full of a sleeping bag and rather light! 


Day 9
16th August 1981
PROMISING START FADES BY THE CLOSE

Not the best night's sleep - ground very hard, but not bad considering that it was free! It had also been cold in the early hours.

Our early morning entertainment was kindly supplied by a variety of chirpy birds, some coes and also the field owner trundling past us on his pushbike!

We set out at 7.20am after enjoying the old favourite of tea with honey. Again the weather was quite cold so we donned our pullovers. Walked along the Dyke to Mellington Hall Caravan Site, where we had a wash and also our daily constitution. Replenishing our water supply, we continued on our way at 7.45 am.

The path here was through trees (Mellington Wood) and was very cool. Paul slipped and fell, landing on a saucepan which fortunately broke his fall, protecting Paul's rear, but certainly did no favours for the saucepan!

We continued towards the entrance to Mellington Hall and joined the road for a short space of time, passing the Blue Bell Inn.

Mellington Hall Lodge

Entrance to Brompton Farm

Leaving the road at Brompton Farm, we had a most enjoyable trek through wheat and barley fields and encountered some more geese - this time at Ditches Farm.

Continuing past Lymore Park, Montgomery we could see the town's clock, Castle and War Memorial quite clearly. We retraced a very small part of the walk that Paul and Ken had been on with Marian some time ago. Crossed the Montgomery / Chirbury road (above).

Paul injured his finger on a gate 'lock' which fell on it. Needless to say, we were very careful from then on. Again, excellent views of Montgomery.

We continued past Devil's Hole and stopped for breakfast at 9.55am. Our nosh consisted of peasoup, veg soup with tinned mushrooms and three chicken Oxo cubes. Three hikers passed us as we dined, one of them stopped for a chat. He was trying to catch his mates up for a £5 bet!

11am, and on the march again. We joined the road for a matter of seconds, crossed a field, road and then along the Dyke until we followed the road near Nantcribba Hall. We were soon on the Dyke again abd obtained water from a chap who was gardening, at about 12.15.

Followed the course of an old Roman Road which went went uphill towards Green Wood Cottage, where we rested at 12.40 and enjoyed an orange each. Paul's finger still hurting.

At 1pm, we continued through a very picturesque wood, with high trees and great views across the valley towards Welshpool and Powys Castle which was very prominent. 

Reached Offa's Pool (left) and had a short break at 1.35, drank some water and enjoyed an apple.

Paul nearly fell in the pool - leaning back to drink his water - retrieved his balance just in time.

The path led upwards, again through more trees.

Joined a road for a short while and then again had to climb upwards along a track and through a field. Passed someone hiding a CB radio in his car - had a quick word with his old man (?) sitting outside.

We reached Beacon Ring Fort where two lads were having food. Walked through a pine wood and reached a radio mast before turning towards 'Hope' - fat chance. We were now on Long Mountain. Our pace slowed down remarkably from this point on, in fact our progress could have been described as crawling. 

Fingerpost, stile and Offa's Dyke milestone along the Offa's Dyke Path

Had another meal - Smash, bean, meat and pilchards, followed by a desert of chocolate with raisins. Admired the view across the valley. We stopped here for about an hour, and then downhill - unfortunately in more ways than one. Paul was feeling rough.

OFFA FACTS
There had been a battle at Hereford in 760 and Offa ravaged parts of Wales in 778 and 784 but it seems that Offa's ambitions tended towards the domination of England, rather than towards any conquests from the Welsh, which were unlikely to produce much profit.
 

Trudged through fields and saw our first bull on this half of our expedition - a Charlet - fortunately it was otherwise engaged. Pete, an authority on bulls, informed us that it was a placid animal, and if left alone, would treat us similarly. Stopped to plot mountains which could be seen in the distance - saw Cader Idris, Aran Fawddwy and the Berwyn Range.

Dropped into the valley and Paul's condition was causing us some concern - his "guts were rotten". Rested by a kiosk. Pete and Ken trying to makr out that they were also struggling. We decided to trundle along to Buttington, having gone completely off track at one very confusing point in our guide book.

It had taken us a long time to cover a very short distance - we didn't even traverse a page in four hours!

Made for the Green Dragon Pub in Buttington and camped there at 5.50, paying 50p for our pitch.

No grub food at the pub! Sold out yesterday. Pitched tent near the railway line and then the young 'un had a rest while Pete and Ken did all the work. Paid for some cider and lemonade at £1.12 a bottle. Got truly ripped-off!

Pete disappeared to ring Sue who was off abroad tomorrow. He arranged for her to come and see us with some much appreciated fish and chips! Paul rested for the duration of the evening still feeling ill but sounding in better spirits. We might have to abandon our walk here, but tomorrow would tell.

Some trains went past, presumably returning from a day out at the coast.

Ken had difficulty sleeping - due to sunburn!


Day 10
17th August 1981
FULL STEAM AHEAD AGAIN

A very cold night - the worst we'd encountered. The forecast had been for ground frost - they were right. Pete worried about his runner beans!

It took a great deal of effort to get out of our warm sleeping bags, but once we were out, we were fine. Especially after applying Deep Heat embrocation to our bare legs.

Paul had fully recovered from yesterday's  poor health and was prepared to continue. This in itself lifted our spirits and we looked forward to another day's walk. Nothing to eat or drink before setting out at 7.20am.

Walked along the Welshpool to Shrewsbury road befor rejoinin the correct path, having made a minor detour to reach the Green Dragon. Enjoyed a stretch along  the banks of the River Severn befor crossing the Welshpool to Oswestry road. Pete was saying 'Hello' to everything in sight, including blades of grass - individually!

We were soon enjoying a walk along the banks of the Montgomeryshire Union Canal (above) - a very peaceful walk.

Soon returned to the Severn, heading towards Llanymynech. Ken had decided to try and do a non-stop walk there having taken note of the enforced poor progress of yesterday, especially after stopping for breaks. Paul similar views. Pete, out voted on the matter, agreed to come along too!

We followed  Tir y Mynach embankment, through fields scattered with caow. A times, some of the styles were in a very bad state of repair. Views of the G.P.O. radio station and Llandrinio Quarry on the right were complemented by the Llanymynech Cliffs visible ahead of us. At one point, we were close to the now disused Welshpool - Oswestry railway line.

We left the Seven - never to be seen again on this walk. Headed towards and crossed Derwas Bridge, crossed a field and rejoined our old friend, Offa's Dyke.

   The Breiddens and Offa's Dyke viewed from nearby

Four Crosses, heading towards Llanymynech 

Pete's foot started hurting, Paul OK, Ken felt blisters coming. It was now 9.45 as we headed towards Four Crosses, still on the Dyke in very green pastures. Passed a sewerage farm, Four Crosses Station and joined the main road to Llanymynech.

Had seen some exceptionally beautiful scenery but decided not to take photos here as the movie camera was probably dameged  and the 'still' photos might be the mementos of this walk. The film would be saved for North Wales, as there would be ample opportunity in the future for photos to be taken of this area.

We were dead chuffed to reach Llanymynech at 10.50, having walked for about three and a half hours, stopping only for mouthfuls of water or cider. Needless to say, by now we were starving.

Had a short rest by the Church. Pete undecided whether or not to continue with us from Llanymynech. His foot was still hurting.

We entered a cafe near a chip shop at 11.10, where breakfast was advertised at £2.25, but only served until 11am - we were 10 minutes late. The chap there was very good - he agreed to cook us three breakfasts. It was one of the best breakfasts we'd ever had, certainly on the walk! Cereal, bacon, egg, sausage, fried potato, tomato and fried bread, followed by toast - plenty of it - marmalade and two pots of tea. Paul only had two cups though! The meal brought about a sensational recovery. We had walked well and were now truly refreshed.

Pete still uncertain about continuing. Weather now getting quite warm, having been generally cool until then.

Phoned home, spoke to Dad - coin operated kiosk was not working at all well. Could only tell him that we were well and in Llanymynech! Purchased some more food and obtained some water.

Pete decided to return home. He'd been great company on the walk and we waved him goodbye as we trekked on.

It was now 1pm. We both had traces of headaches from a combination of heat, shoulder muscles aching - no doubt our heavy meal hadn't helped either. We decided to take it very easy from then on.

Left Llanymynech, heading towards the quarry and Asterley Rocks. Saw and heard a couple of lads with air rifles. The walk took  us along lanes with the rocks always prominent and had been for some considerable time. 

Asterley Rocks Llanymynech
which had commanded the scenery for miles

Went through a small wood and emerged at Llanymynech Golf Course, where we rested for about 20 minutes.

Paul, left, tries a long putt on the 13th green.

Here, we had a commanding view of the valley below us and the distance we'd travelled yesterday and today.

A fellow on a tractor guided us to the path after we'd seen another view, this time towards England.

It was then that we decided to risk taking some movie shots,in the hope that they would come out alright. The camera, lens and aperture appeared OK, but it was difficult to tell whether it would work. Anyway, we'd missed plenty of shots of views before now - it was well worth the risk.

Dropped down towards Porth y Waen. The paths had been much better than those experienced between Knighton and Churchstoke.

Followed a pleasant 'B' road towards Cefn Farm and soon reached a small hamlet called Nant Mawr (right). Replenished our water supply at Hafod y Coed. The water had been going down well.

The path then went uphill, through fern, bracken and gorse and at 3.45pm we stopped for a breather having left the wood. Talked to a lone walker (elderly) who'd come from Chirk at 10am. He informed us that we had a good view ahead of us on the hilltop. And what a magnificent one it turned out to be! We could see for literally hundreds of miles to either side. Took another movie shot.

OFFA FACTS
English names such as Buttington, Leighton, Edderton and Forden are notable to the west of the Dyke. It seems likely that  those places record the expansion of Mercia into the Welsh borderland between AD650 - 750. The later frontier of Offa was probably a political compromise to secure the whole of the corridor of the Severn Valley in this district of Powys.

Saw Llanymynech and its hills, Cader Idris, Berwyn Range, Long Mountain, the lot. Nothing but flatness towards England with the exception of one hill. We were at 900 feet.


Blodwell Rock Quarry
looking back towards Llanymynech


Resting at Moelydd
height 930 feet. Background
shows our day's trek from
Buttington, through Four Crosses
and Llanymynech

Three minutes earlier, we would have filmed  half a dozen jets flying down the valley.

We saw the village of Trefonnen and headed towards it in the hope of making camp. Went through Trefonnen Hall (instead of around it!) and walked through fields before reaching Bron y Wern, where we camped for 50p. Took some movie shots of us erecting the tent and also of an intriguing hen.

Drank some Rise and Shine, then rose and shone. Paul arranged the furniture in our 4 man tent, while Ken went for water. The tent was by the house with something known as hot water in the sink. Very friendly people. They said that not many campers were about these days - most of their trade was in bed and breakfast.

Had tea - beans with sausage, meat and fresh bran rolls, which had kept well. Doctored feet - burst a few blisters with a needle - three on the left foot. Right foot was OK, other than a slight cut by the big toe which was doctored in Llanymynech. Paul's feet fine - no problem.

Looking back on today, we'd done well in trwo long stints of walking. The sun had been out in a cloudless sky all day, but fortunately for us, so had the breezes.

It's now Monday. We'd  forecasted blindly, reaching Prestatyn by Thursday. Last night this seemed impossible - weeks away, but tonight it felt possible. We're now on page 31 in our Offa's Dyke book, having covered 11 pages since Friday evening. We can do it as long as we don't suffer another Sunday!!

Bed 7.45pm. Early start tomorrow. 

 

Day 11
18th August 1981
EARLIEST START ON RECORD

Our Earliest start on record - 6.30am. It looked as though we'd have a cool day. Walked through the village of Trefonnen, where Paul posted another film to Kodak for development.

Followed a footpath, crossed a couple of roads, on the Dyke at times. We stopped to don our protective clothing as we felt a few drops of rain.

The Dyke path took through Pentre Shannel, which contained wht appeared to be a burnt down farm We crossed yet another road and headed towards the wooded Craig Forda. Several woods had been encountered to date.

When walking through this wood we met an oldish chap with a Pakistani friend, who told us that the building we'd previously seen had once been a mill which burnt down. The mill ceased to function about 1908, when the owner got mangled in the workings!

Continuing upwards, we eventually reached two old Racecourses and took some film shots. Joined a road which circled Bakers Hill as we avoided part of the Dyke along which there was no right of way. 

Headed towards Carreg-y-Big where Paul rescued a little kitten from the road. Again along the Dyke  for some time and around Selattyn Hill. We could easily  tell we were at last in North Wales, as stone walls were in great abundance everywhere (right).

Walked on until 10am when we enjoyed a short break. Two lads passed us again.

OFFA FACTS
In  building the Dyke, Offa was probably inspired by the epic poem which told how his 5th century namesake -"with his single sword - drew the boundary against the Myringas at Fifeldor". An excellent work in Slesvik is still said to carry the same name of this earlier Offa.
 

Chirk Castle and aquaduct were visible to our left. Went through Mar's Wood before rejoining a road on our way to Froncysyllte and the prospect of a good pub meal.  


North Wales from Selattyn Hill


Views towards Chirk Castle

We took the wrong turning as we approached the canal, turning left instead of right. Retraced our steps when we saw a couple of barges on the canal (left).
Approached and crossed a bridge, rejoining the proper route again. Followed the banks of the canal for some time and saw the Aquaduct Inn, Froncysyllte on a nearby hill and went up there for our meal. What a meal! The landlady could only muster up a couple of rolls each - ham and cheese and onion, plus a drink. Left the pub at 12.50.

George Borrow wrote in Wild Wales;

Arrived at the foot of the hill, I walked along the bank of the canal to the west. Presently I came to a barge lying by the bank, the boatman was in it. I entered into conversation  with him. He told me that the canal and its branches extended over a great part of England. That the boats carried slates - that he had frequently gone as far as Paddington by the canal-....... that they passed by many towns, among others Northampton and that he liked no place as much as Llangollen


Pontcysyllte


Viaduct from Pontcysyllte


Continued along the canal and over the narrow Pontcysyllte aquaduct. Several barges rested in the boatyard. Crossed a road and at Trevor, we phoned home.

We left the inhabited area and stopped for a short break, listening to Paul's radio - sang along to "Je suis a Rock Star" by Bill Wyman.

Ascended Trevor Wood in "Llangollen Rural" and got lost again in a waymarked alternative area on our map. We went down, instead of up and lost the track, disregarding a scratched arrow on the path (done with a stick) - we thought, foolishly that it was a bluff. Eventually turned back and followed the arrow. Our feet were beginning to feel rough again.

Reached aroad at the top of the wood having struggled through gorse and bracken. As a result of: 1) our rest and 2) the bracken, we were to become covered with flea bites!

We could see Llangollen in the valley below (left) and just ahead of us was Castell Dinas Bran perched above Wern Uchaf Wood (below).

The Offa's Dyke path took us along a road. At this time we began to feel shattered and hoped that we'd find a place to camp soon.

Continued under the magnificent Trevor Rocks, stopping several times to ease the pain on our weary feet.

Many day trippers were out enjoying the views. We were desperate for a place to camp and called at a couple places - no reply - probably holiday homes.

Eventually found someone in at 'Tan y Graig'. She advised us to rejoin the path (which we'd missed) and camp along there, near a white house.

This we did, camping under the shadow of the magnificent rocks, hoping that no boulders would come our way.

Camped at 5.15. It was very difficult pegging the tent down, due to the very rocky nature of the ground below.

We managed somehow.

We dined on beans and sausage (tin) and ham, followed by pineapple. Another hard  day's walking and a very, very well earned rest. Paul's feet which had done very well until now, were beginning to cause him some concern. Ken's had packed up a long time ago.


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Click here - Wikipedia -
for more on Castell Dinas Bran

CASTELL DINAS BRAN
Dinas Brân is in what was once the ancient Kingdom of Powys. The last Prince of Powys Gruffydd Maelor died in 1191 and the kingdom was divided into Powys Fadog in the north and Powys Wenwynwyn in the south. His son, Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor was lord of Powys Fadog and founded the nearby Valle Crucis Abbey. Although no archaeological evidence has been found some records suggest he ruled from Dinas Brân.

Our progress  had been depressingly slow at the end of the day - the only thing that drove us on was the need to find a campsite. Some good news though - only nine more pages of maps to go. Prestatyn nears.

George Borrow wrote in Wild Wales;

We soon came to a road leading east and west. "This way" said he, pointing in the direction of the west, "leads back to Llangollen, the other to Offa's Dyke and England".
We turned to the west. He inquired if I had  ever heard before of Offa's Dyke.
"Oh yes" said I, "it was built by an old Saxon King called Offa, against  the incursions of the Welsh".
"There was a time" said my companion, "when it was customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman, who was found to the east of the dyke, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman whom they found to the west of it. Let us be thankful that we are now more humane to each other".

 

Day 12
19th August 1981
DANGER

A restless night. Paul was covered in flea bites - or at least we hoped that they were fea bites! This was confirmed later when Ken also started to suffer from them.

We were also concerned about our campsite being directly under the cliffs. Several stones were heard during the night, falling down the steep scree slope, dislodged by sheep. Paul could also hear something scratching underground.

At 7.20am, we were again on our way.

We had now realised that we started our day's walking much better on an empty stomach. The preparation and the digestion seemed to eat up valuable time and in addition, slowed us down.

The next part of the walk was to be the most dangerous of the whole walk.


Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

We had to pass below five cliffs - Creigiau Eglwyseg (above) along a very narrow and treacherous footpath - Llwybr y Fuwch. I doubt whether cows could walk along it now. We were about half wat up a scree slope which was very steep and on a couple of occasions there was no path as such at all. At best, the path was some nine inches wide, but on average, about 6 inches.


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Taking leave of the exposed screes of Creigiau Eglwyseg, the trail descends into the tranquil wooded dell at Worlds End.


The path went around and over (oops!) the last cliff, and we had the pleasure of a springy descent to rejoin a road near World's End. There were some lads camping nearby. 8 am.

The road went uphill to some 1,400 feet before we had to turn off and attempt traversing Llandegla Moors, left. White posts could be seen across the moor - we were very thankfull that there was no mist about, otherwise crossing it would have been difficult.
The path went through heather all the way until joining a small forest and later it became gorse and bog.

Saw a couple of lads who'd desperately camped on the path, just before the Youth Hostel.

At 10am we reached the pleasant village of Llandegla. Phoned Marian, told her we'd probably be back in Newtown on Saturday.

Our feet were still sore. We'd anticipated a good meal and a rest before continuing. On reaching the pub, we saw a sign which read; "We shall re-open on Saturday". Enquired at the local shop cum Post Office and were informed that the pub had been closed since January of this year, and new people had recently taken it over.

We decided not to try the other village pub which was some mile and a half away in a different direction, Instead, we bought some more provisions before attempting the formidable Clwydian Range. We both therefore enjoyed chocolate, lucozade and fruit before restarting - this was our day's breakfast!

Whilst sitting and eating outside the sub Post Office, we saw a young lad approaching us in an army combat outfit, he must have been 6 or 7. A young girl laughed at him. He contnued whistling, looking self important with a Daily Post under his arm, and said, "Don't laugh at me, I'm in the army - really."

We passed our second bull on this half of the walk and also met two oldish chaps going in the other direction. At 1pm, we stopped for a meal at The Clwyd Gate Inn (right) and enjoyed the magnificent view from there as we devoured our food. Paul had scampi and chips, Ken had chicken and chips. We also took advantage of the toilets to wash and freshen up.


Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A few drops of rain greeted us as we left the Inn at 2pm, rejoining the busy main road for a short distance before turning left and heading for Gyrn.

On climbing Moel Eithinen we got lost trying to follow one of those blue square markers again. Paul noticed a footpath sign, but Ken chose to ignore it.

Yet again we had to retrace our footsteps and were slightly disheartened. Rejoining the path along a stone wall, we eventually reached Moel Fenlli. Clouds were in evidence above us. 

This climb was very steep and Ken had great difficulty in ascending it, taking about 20 - 30 short steps before resting again. It was a killer!

We were very concerned that we might soon be enshrouded in mist, a whisp of which Paul had seen. On reaching the summit, the strong wind nearly blew us off the top! Saw the peak of Moel Fammau, completely covered by mist. We instantly decided not to attempt it today!


View along the Clwydian Range

We had intended to get as near to Bodfari as possible during the course of our walk today. Unfortunately, we seem to have the uncanny habit of losing our way after a break and here was no exception. This time however, it would appear that we were not the only ones. A well trodden path led to an obvious dead-end, but the lesser worn of the two went in the right direction.

OFFA FACTS
Offa's Dyke must have been intended to provide a complete barrier within a space of a few years. In the first year or two the entire line must have been marked out, with a skill which arouses the admiration of all who follow it across the confusing maze of hills and valleys along the Marches of Wales.
In subsequent years, people from all the Mercian villages within forty miles of the frontier - or more - must have been sent to dig the stretch of frontier which had been marked out for them.

Crossed a road leading to Llanarmon yn Ial, and headed up to and around Chweleiriog Farm. On the way there we saw a Post Office van coming down. We passed Tyddyn Tlodion and rejoined a road. This took us to the foot of the first of the 'Moels' on the Clwydian Range. Had a brief rest at 11.45 before climbing. 

Our first encounter was Moel y Gelli which was a relatively easy ascent.

Had a great view to our left. Went on to Moel y Plas at 1,443 feet having seen and photographed Llyn Gweryd (right).

Then, alongside Moel Llech. Saw dark grey clouds ahead of us.

Around Moel Llanfair and then down Moel Gwy, feeling quite hungry. This had been a long trudge, but it was nice to get off the roads for a while. 

Went down into the valley below Moel Fenlli, passing a dead sheep which had been covered by a sack or something. Got down to 1,016 feet at the Bwlch Pen Barras road, with Maeshafn Youth Hostel about  two and three quarter miles away. Saw three old dears in a car. 

Our map didn't cover the route to Maeshafn, so we obtained some directions from a teacher in charge of some children and started an apparently endless walk along the road. It went on and on and on and on and on and on!

Eventually we reached somewhere and asked a lady for directions to the Youth Hostel, only to be informed that somehow we'd managed to pass it! This we thought, was absolutely impossible. 

At 4.45 we reached a farm called Cae'r Odyn, and asked the farmer (a Cymro) whether we could pitch our tent in one of his fields. He agreed and we paid him £1. Asked him which was the quickest way to Prestatyn from Cilcain, a village some two miles north of here. He said "With me in my land rover - I'm going to Rhyl tomorrow!"

We thanked him for his offer but declined it, saying that we fully intended reaching the coast by foot. He estimated the distance as 23 miles.

Set up camp at 5.15, having erected our tent in the looming darkness at the earliest convenient spot. Straight into our sleeping bags, which were slightly damp. We took a couple of paracetemols and Rise and Shine, before settling down for the oncoming storm.

Again we were shattered, and very disappointed at having left the official route. Tomorrow morning we will decide our final assault on Prestatyn - hopefully.


Day 13
20th August 1981
TIME TO RETHINK

What a night!

We'd camped at the wrong end of the field, and suffered a continuous hammering from the gale force winds and thrashing rain. Paul unbelievably had a comfortable nights sleep, but Ken had been fully aware of the storm.

The winds had freed one of the tents' guide ropes, and by what can only be described as a miracle, the tent stayed up. It was one hell of a storm!

The tent's ridge pole across the roof had bent in the middle, and was about 2 inches away from being straight. There was also a slight kink in the top pole. The force of the wind had stretched the tent's nylon covering.


Our tent - the morning after the storm

At one point during the storm, the gales had lifted the groundsheet off the ground. Had it not been for our combined weight and equipment, the tent would have been lifted clear off the ground.

Our 'mobile' home had stood up magnificently to the storm. Had we camped further up the field, the hedge there would have supplied adequate protection, Fortunately the wind had also dried the tent out from the rain which had pelted against it.

Still inside the tent we planned our road route to Prestatyn from a North Wales map (not ordnance survey) which had been purchased previously for circumstances such as this. At 6.15 am, the clouds were still lingering overhead.

Our route would be as follows: Cilcain (about 8 miles away), on to the A541 towards St Asaph / Denbigh, B5112 - Tremeirchion at A55. Off towards Dysserth. A5151  a small road towards Rhyl, but follow A547 to Prestatyn. Approx 17 miles.

Gave our Offa's Dyke book a well earned rest in the rucksack and continued with our 40p road map.

Departed 6.30am. Followed a narrow road all the way to Cilcain and asked a postman for directions.

Paul's boots were digging into his right heel. Entered Cilcain in the hope that we'd find a major road in the village, heading north. We were successful. Leaving the village, and on a short rise, totally out of the blue, we spotted an Offa's Dyke marker. However, at that stage we still decided to continue with our new plans as this arrow seemed to point to Moel Fammau, which was still clouded over.

Again we continued upwards, the road wasn't too steep. Plenty of countryside to be seen with a few villages to our right.

On the brow of a hill, there was lane stretching ahead of us, which according to our map went in the correct to rejoin the Dyke path, but the marker arrow pointed another way. We paused for a rest and Paul, whose feet still hurt, cut into the heel of his boot with a knife.

After a short chat, we decided to return to the official Dyke route and eventually, at 8.45am, rejoined our book map. We'd obviously followed an alternative route which had not been mentioned in our guide book. Moel Fammau was visible behind and we had obviously gone well out of our way in avoiding it. It was still covered by cloud. 

We were pleased to be back on the path once again, and away from the road, although it initially meant a good deal of climbing.

One and a quarter pages of our route map had been missed and therefore we did not cross the following; an unnamed hill at 1,500 feet, Moel Fammau, Moel Dywyll, Moel Llys-y-Coed, but rejoined on Moel Arthur - we may well have walked the slopes of Moel Llys y Coed, but we were uncertain. One of the styles we'd climbed had a walking boot stuck on it. What had happened to the other - or even its owner!


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Our descent to the Llangwyfan - Nannerch road was through heather and bracken. We'd followed the long lost poles which acted as our guide up Moel Arthur (left). On reaching the road, we had a break and enjoyed an apple and orange each, before entering the Clwyd forestry, continuing along a forest road up Penycloddiau.

The road ended abruptly and we were left on a path. The markings were poor around here and as a result of which we ended up on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence, and missed going over the hill with the BBC mast.

Descended through high fern, making our own tracks, until we reached another small lane which appeared to take us the right way. On reaching this path, Paul went to read a sign half way up a tree; "ANY DOG FOUND LOOSE ON THIS LAND WILL BE SHOT". What a shame dogs can't read we thought!

OFFA FACTS
Most of the border disputes must have arisen from cattle raiding and the most massive stretches of the Dyke were constructed as a barrier on the high uplands, rather than as a defence for valley settlements.
 

Saw some more poles ahead of us and made our way towards them. Checked our position at 'Bwlch' at 9.45, having disturbed someone from their sleep! Saw two hikers on the other side of the valley.

Decided not to take a farm track up to the path, but went lower down, crossed a stream and were soon on course again. Seem to be making a habit of this. Bodfari was our next objective.

Paul stopped again as his foot continued to hurt. He put a plaster on it and we set off.


Bodfari Church

10.10, followed an alternative route to join the road in Bodfari. Crossed a disused railway line and entered the village. Stopped outside the Downing Arms at 10.50.
Ken went to a nearby shop for chocs and postcards and then returned to the pub. Waited until 11.30 opening time. By now we were very cold.

A cleaner who'd left the pub as we'd waited for it to open told us that the home made soup was excellent. Entered the pub and put our possessions below the dartboard. Ordered drinks - a pint of bitter and orange and lemonade.

Our meal consisted of; soup (excellent), sausage, pizza and chips. A very good nosh. Discovered that we had another 10 or 12 miles to do.

Landlord was very friendly and knocked 2 pence of "for cash". We were cold again in the pub, although it had been quite warm when we entered. Piped music played, accompanied by the landlord's peculiar whistling.

Restarted 12.30. Path was directly opposite the pub and uphill. Paul thought he'd seen two hikers going the other way up the hill, straight into somebody's back garden. Ken thought it highly unlikely! Again went through woodlands at Moel y Gaer.

At one time we had to encounter a gate (one of many), and as Ken pulled it open for Paul to squeeze through as he pushed against it - then snap - the string gave way. Ken ended up sitting down and Paul went flying parallel to the gate and into a post. Most amusing! We repaired the gate before continuing.

Passed Ardwywynt farm and went through Sodom at 1pm, climbing up Cefn Du at about 850 feet, before dropping down to Penymaes where we again lost the path. One of the O.D. arrows pointed the wrong way. 


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The road to Sodom

We went away from a sheep pen and crossed a style at the other end of the field. At 2pm, we had two pages of maps left to complete the walk, and only the village of Rhuallt before going on to Prestatyn. Through fields to Rhuallt, continued past the Smithy Arms and uphill again along a road.

We passed an elderly couple, resprctable entering their car. The old dear smashed her head on the door pillar as she sat down! It looked so cimical. Her hat fell off and she bent down to pick it up, rubbing her head as she did so. We looked back about half a minute later and she was still rubbing her head.

After a good laugh we had a steep climb before crossing Ffrith Fawr (3.30pm) and joining another road towards Cwm. Passed through Marian Cwm, Marian  Bach, Marian Ffrith and Marian Mill and suddenly we were left with only one map page to complete.

Spoke Welsh to a farmer and his wife who told us that on Germans and English people seemed to walk the Dyke - it was nice seeing two Welshmen doing it!
We told them that we wanted to prove that the Welsh could also do it!

We had, during the course of our walk seen the magnificent views towards the Conway Valley and the Great Orme (right) was clearly visible, as was a good bit of the Welsh coast.

Avoided Dysserth, but missed the style at Tynewydd Farm. Paul calculated our position.

Onwards, uphill towards Tan yr Allt and our first view of Prestatyn (left) in the distance. Our final landscape walk was around an old quarry.

A couple came down from a wooded area having taken a wrong turning, saving us from doing so.

Then with some dismay  we spotted another climb ahead of us and after some deliberation decided not to go that way, also we felt that the path just couldn't go in that direction. The path appeared to be continuously leading away from Prestatyn, as if it didn't want us to go there.


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Above Prestatyn
Following the Offa's Dyke National Trail
on the Prestatyn Hillside Nature Reserve, high above the coastal resort.

Went back a few yards and joined our final trek through some trees towards our final destination. Confirmed the way with a man and finally reached a left turning which went down hill and in a straight line to the coast.

We were walking with great difficulty now, but satisfied that we had reached our goal, or at least would do in a few hundred yards.

  

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 The last signpost - Chepstow 182 miles

Purchased fish and chips, and continued through the town, over the station's railway bridge and eventually to a cold windswept coastal front. We were blown to bits, ate our meal which didn't touch the sides.

Dipped our boots in the sea, and headed for our final campsite having asked directions.

6.05pm - we'd reached the shore. Found the campsite, Ken smashed our faithful water bottle which had been carried all along, in the Gents.

We pitched our tent for the last time - straightening the ridge pole after last night's storm! Went to sleep finally to the sound of kids on the site using our tent as a tennis court.

We had walked the length of Wales, and felt really great! 

 

OFFA'S DYKE
30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
FAMILY REUNION

We held a reunioun with our respective families
in Knighton on the 12th September 2010,
to mark our 30th anniversary of
first setting foot on Offa's Dyke on the 5th September 1980


The Stone at the Offa's Dyke Centre Knighton


Paul with Teresa, Rebecca and Bethany


Ken with Marian (centre), Kim and Rhian

 
This is the way!


Bethany, Rebecca, Kim and Rhian
"You can take the girls out of Wales,
but you can't take Wales out of the girls"


Fingerpost outside the Offa's Dyke Centre, Knighton

"A story of two brothers walking together along Offa's Dyke"
No rucksacks this time though!!

1980 and 2010..... I have not altered a bit have I?

We enjoyed a lovely day together,
which included a meal in Offa's Resaurant at the Knighton Hotel.