I wanted to walk a bit on Offa's Dyke in Wales, a north/south path which intersects with Glyndwr's Way at Knighton. Glyndwr's Way, an east/west long distance path in Wales, is my primary objective. I allocated 3 1/2 days for Offa's Dyke Path and 9 days to complete Glyndwr's Way. Transportation and accomodations were booked in advance. I'm walking solo with 15 pounds in my pack including water and snacks. I like to travel light. I like to think it's an art.
Photo of Gregg in a sunnier clime at 69 years old.
WALKING OFFA'S DYKE PATH
Tuesday 25 Sept 2007
Pandy to Llanthony - 6 miles
Arrived at Heathrow from San Francisco at 7 am, took one hour to pass immigration, waved through customs and hopped on the tube to Paddington for the train to Hereford. Within an hour, I caught a bus to Pandy where I could jump onto Offa's Dyke Path. Its been raining, but weather is now clearing up and looking nice.
Starting Up Hatterrall Hill
I was dropped at the Pandy Inn about 14:15, crossed the road to Lancaster Arms and found the ODP waymark pointing across the field towards Hatterrall Hill. Its a nice but tough view-filled climb to the trig point at 1500 ft, then along the ridge to about 2000 ft and on to the Beacon's Way cairn where I start the muddy, steep descent to Llanthony Priory and my B&B for the night, Half Moon Hotel. Its 5 pm and no one is at Half Moon so I go over to the Priory Pub for a pint. Little has changed since Cathryn and I were here five years ago, both the Priory and the pub are still incredible places. Eventually, I'm able to check into Half Moon.
Halfway Up Hatterrall Hill
Inhabitants On The Ridge
Hatterrall Trig Point
The hotel seems a little grubby but the only game in town. Its normally closed on Tuesday, but there are three other people here, a Canadian couple from Ottawa and an English girl from Reading. George seems a little put out that he doesn't have the night off but fixed us a good lasagna with chips and salad, even opened the bar for some ale.
Llanthony's Vale Of Ewyas
Llanthony Priory From Ridge
Wednesday 26 Sept 2007
Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye - 14 miles
George was very friendly this morning, telling me all about the path, what to see and how to get back up to the ridge. He even went outside and pointed out the route. Looked daunting, a very steep climb.
I left about 9:00, well ahead of the Canadians and started climbing immediately. It got very steep very quickly. From the Priory to Offa's Dyke Path on the ridge is about 1400 feet, over 1 1/2 miles. ODP runs along the ridge at about 2000 to 2200 ft elev, a nice ridge with great views but fairly boggy.
Overlooking Half Moon Hotel
Steep Path To ODP, Ridge Walk In Background
Other Walkers On The Slope
Upper Assension To Offa's Dyke Path
This morning is cold, windy and rainy. Sleet fell for about 20 min so my earflaps and gloves came in handy. I met about 14 walkers, about half walking all or part of ODP and had nice conversations with several of them. At the Hay Bluff trig point (2300 ft), a couple took my photo as I broke for lunch. I was really there! I had a sausage from Half Moon and a energy bar. The bar was almost frozen, couldn't bite it but broke off pieces and let them warm up in my mouth. The rain has stopped, now off and on cloudy and sunny. You can supposedly see nine counties from here.
Approach To Hay Bluff Trig Point
Gregg At Hay Bluff Trig Point
Looking Back At Descent From Hay Bluff
Its been wonderful ridge walking, but now I go straight down off Hay Bluff, actually a surprisingly easy descent after hearing how hard it was. Four miles to Hay. Eventually, I took a wrong turn at a stone wall (poor waymarking or was I just not paying attention), but found the path again further on. Arrived in Hay at 15:30. I bought a phone card at the post office, also a novel for 30 pence at the outdoor Castle bookshop, then easily found Belmont House B&B. A large comfortable room with lots of delicious hot water.
Overlooking Hay On Wye
Belmont House B&B In Hay
Dinner was Moroccan lamb w/cous-cous, figs and apricots at the Black Lion where Cathryn and I ate five years ago. The local Wye Valley ale was sadly forgettable. But then, a nice soft bed, a 30 pence novel, what more could I want.
Thursday 27 Sept 2007
Hay on Wye to Kington 16 miles
Clock Tower In Hay
At breakfast, I talk to the chatty Hampshire couple I met on the walk yesterday. They pick up their car and drive ahead, walk, and taxi back to their car. A good breakfast, off by 9:00 again. I cross the River Wye opposite the clock tower and walk above the river through woods and flowers. Then a locked gate! What's up? Just turning back, I met an Australian couple who pointed to a half-hidden sign and stile in the hedge 20 feet back. Four eyes are better than two and they had a guidebook as well. I went on ahead, but stopped later to take a photo and they offered to take one of me. We walked together the rest of the day. They had lived in the USA for awhile, he is in IT and travels all over. We kept ascending to higher ground, then descending to villages. We met a pair of old timers who were only interested in where the next pub was. A long climb over Disgwylfa Hill and down into Gladestry where we found the pub where those two fellows last fueled up.
Flowers Along The River Wye
Royal Oak Inn At Gladestry
We sat on a bench to eat lunch, then made the long climb up onto Hergest Ridge where we saw the oddest looking trees. They looked straight out of the dinosaur age, perhaps ancient yew trees. It was beautiful walking along the greenway on the ridge, eventually descending into Kington. My friends, Paul and Sue, were ending their walk here and we said goodby. Walking to the TIC, I saw the Hampshire couple picking up their car, "looking for your B&B"? Actually, I was trying to locate Hergest Court where the Mabinogion was stored for centuries before being translated into English. I found it was a couple of miles out of town, so I went on to Southbourne B&B and asked my host, Geoff, about it. He had a photo, a 15th century timber-frame building, part of a farm. The farm family now lives in a new house, only 250 years old.
Gregg On Hergest Ridge
B&B In Kington
I had dinner at the Swan Hotel. Very good food, sliced pork with new potatoes and vegetables and Bombadier Ale. The ale seemed a bit sour, am I getting too picky? Back to the B&B for journal writing and reading. Tomorrow there will be a lot of dyke walking.
Friday 28 Sept 2007
Kington to Knighton - 15 miles
Good breakfast, nice hosts! I followed Newton Lane over to meet Offa's Dyke Path, then straight up Bradnor Hill to the highest golf course in England at over 1200 feet. Yes, I'm just a couple of miles on the English side of the border with Wales. These are the infamous "marches", where the English feared to cross.
Bradnor Hill Golf Sign
Watch For Golf Balls
Climbing higher onto Rushock Hill, I cross a waymarked stile and meet a farmer on his ATV who tells me "this is the wrong stile, ODP has been rerouted 200 ft to your left going uphill. This will take you downhill and you will get lost". Well, he was right! I then gained my first section of the actual dyke, although its rather small. Around Herrock Hill and across the Vale of Radnor, both quite beautiful, through woods onto Burfa Hill where I follow the dyke again for several miles. This section of the dyke was quite impressive. Near Dolly Green, a fighter jet buzzed about 100 ft overhead. He was over the next range of hills before I could blink.
Vale Of Radnor
More Dyke Walking
After lunch by a stream, up up up over Furrow Hill and Hawthorne Hill, then more dyke walking. At a road intersection, I stopped for a herd of sheep being shepherded from the fields over into a nearby farmyard. I was glad for an excuse to rest. For the first time ever, my calves were burning. This day was up and down constantly, many long, steep ascents and descents, very hard on me.
Sheep Keeping Their Distance
More Of Offa's Dyke
In Knighton, I went to the TIC in hopes of finding more information about Glyndwr's Way which I'm starting tomorrow. All I found was the National Trail Guide which I already had. The lady really didn't know anything! Knighton is a nice looking town, lots of shops and several banks. I used a cash machine before going to my B&B, the Horse & Jockey Inn, a 15th century coaching inn. Jacqi put me in a wonderful upstairs cottage room, beautifully furnished. I ate in their restaurant, enjoying a very good lamb shank with Speckled Hen ale.
Horse And Jockey Inn In Knighton
In my room, I studied my Glyndwr's Way guidebook and maps to prepare for the route over the next several days along Glyndwr's Way as it looped west tp the Irish Sea, then back to the "marches" at Welshpool. That walk is posted seperately on this site.