Offa’s Dyke Path, 2012

Offa’s Dyke Path (UK National Trail), 177 miles, 14 walking days, May 2012

Prestatyn – Bodfari – Clwyd Gate – Llangollen – Craignant – Llanymynech – Buttington/Welshpool – Brompton Crossroads – Knighton (halfway) – Kington – Hay-on-Wye – Pandy – Llanvihangel-Ystern -Llewern – Whitebrook – Sedbury Cliffs (Chepstow)

Offa’s Dyke Path is not an easy UK National Trail but it is a trail of adventure and challenge. The 1,200-year-old trail weaves its way down the whole length of the England-Wales border from Prestatyn in the north to Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow in the south. The remnants of the dyke become visible around Llangollen and fade away as you approach Sedbury Cliffs . We encountered quite a lot of rain (sheltering one day at the George 3rd Jubilee Tower on the top of Moel Famau) and many puff-puff no-talk switchback hills, especially around the Knighton area but there are areas of great beauty such as Hergist Ridge (the inspiration for Mike Oldfield’s musical composition) and Hattershall Ridge. The trail has more than its fair share of historic buildings: Chirk Castle (well worth a visit), White Castle, Tintern Abbey (a huge tourist trap), the Kymin (a naval temple built in 1800), and the atmospheric Castell Dinas Bran near Llangollen. We walked by the side of canals teeming with wildlife and experienced the thrill of walking on the windswept Pontcysyllte Aqueduct built by Thomas Telford between 1795 -1805.

Along the trail, we sampled beer in Offa’s Dyke Brewery at Trefonen, ice cream made from sheep’s milk in Hay-on-Wye, and feasted on the classic Y Fenni cheddar-and-mustard-seed cheese, now a favourite of mine. Carol suffered from leaking boots and I from water-logged hearing aids but we managed to play Pooh sticks on the 17th century Ditchyeld Bridge. Carol won, but she lost out in the dodging-the-sheep-droppings competition!

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