Day 10 of 14 done and I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing today was! My absolute fav day so far – just wow, wow, wow!
After a long and not so gentle climb out of Hay-on-Wye (a town I wish we had a full day to explore), we spent the next 3+ hours up on the Hatterall Ridge of the Black Mountains.
The ridge is a wide, moorland area that is a mix of packed trail or stone slabs (to fight erosion). There is heather as far as you can see and it hides the thick bog to the left and right of the Path. Dotting the landscape are so many wild ponies – including some wee baby foals that are adorable!
Can you even believe that view? The day started overcast and at a great temperature for the climb up (about 10-12C) but once up at top the sun started to peak out and the temp was fantastic (about 15-19C)! The wind even stayed quite mild which made for easy walking!
At about the 20th kilometer of the day and 330pm-ish, we found our stone marker that signaled the decent to Longtown for the night!
We wrapped up looking back at how high we really were for the day and then into our home / pub for the night at the Crown Inn for a celebration pint and some fish & chips!
Tomorrow we will check out the Longtown Castle and then walk from Pandy to a town named Llangattock (I will not be pronouncing that correctly on tomorrow morning’s video!)
Day 9 of 14 done and what a day! I have a friend! Cheryl aka trail name Impossible Turtle is my bestie to the end of Offa’s Dyke Path!
We had beautiful overcast skies today with NO rain at all and a few sunny breaks. The average temp was 15C on the ridge and 19C in the valley. Aka absolutely perfect hiking weather!
We started the day, as usual, with a climb out of the town of Kington but it was a nice incline. Enough you needed some breaks but not so steep that are cursing King Offa himself! In about an hour we were at the top and had fantastic views and the company of some wild ponies!
From there, after a little lunch in our very own homemade picnic spot, we started the long way down into Hay-on-Wye. A bit of forest time and a lot of pasture or field time too.
Coming into Hay-on-Wye felt like it took forever – but we passed some cute little gems in the forest and a number of really cool sights in the town. This town is the book store capital of the world or something fun like that – there are so many amazing bookstores and it was so hard not to go in and buy ALL the books.
The ‘long’ way in Hay probably felt longer cause of my feet … so a bit of an update … arch is a little better (tape has made a huge difference) but the beating the other foot took to over compensate is now causing me a problem. Think infected blisters. Ugh! Seems these feet cannot win but I am keeping a close eye.
Day 10 of the trail is the Hatterall Ridge – up and up and up then we walk the open grassy ridge for 3 hours. Wow!
Day 8 of 14 done and today may have been my favourite so far! I got all the things I love today, some good climbs with amazing views as a reward, lots of time in the quiet forest and a good amount of sunshine too! Also a nice distance at 22km and in about 6hours – sweet spot.
The day started with a yummy hot breakfast at 8am and by 830 I had said ‘thanks very much’ to the amazing owners at The Red Lion Inn and was on my way! I had my Sunnies on and was excited to stretch the legs again after my much needed rest day.
The day started with a heart pumping climb up and out of Knighton through a quiet dark forest (thanks to the fine folks who built in some stairs on the steeper bits) and I had the pleasure of staying quite high for a couple of hours with lots of grassy walking and fantastic views.
My fav moment of the walk … a wee old Welsh guy out checking on the sheep and cows ‘as you should do on a Sunday mornin’ joined me for a couple of long pastures. Chatting about his farm, giving me some hints on the best views and somehow guessed West Canada as my original. I did not have a visible flag on my pack! What a bloke, such a fun little visit!
From there, what goes up must come down. I spent some time angling down to the lower valley with some more forest time, pasture walking and much of the time walking on the actual Dyke itself!
I met quite a few Offa’s Dyke Walkers on this stretch. One couple (locals) mentioned they lived in Calgary once and he was one of the guys who built the Jasper Gondola! Another gave me a heads up about a VERY overgrown section of the Path ahead – very is an understatement! What I wouldn’t have given for a little travel sized weed wacker for that mile. My daily tick check was extra vigilant this evening!
I enjoyed a little snack for my lunch at the side of a little river. I somehow forgot to buy lunch for the day so an apple, crackers and a Twix for the win! The bridge had a great spot to sit and the angle made a perfect spot to pop my feet up for a little rest too! Brilliant!
Well in Wales, what goes down must go up and up and up again. The climb from this river to the top of the next ridge called Herrock Hill was a doozy – heart beating and hard working. I just ‘kept swimming’ so much so I didn’t care that I got bit by not just one horsefly but 4! They love getting their fangs into you at the worst time, and on the back of my legs and butt too! At least it’s not my face like the other day. Jerks!
Totally worth it for the view!
From there it was a pleasantly long and steady downhill into Kington. Just as I walked into town, my home for the night The Swan Inn came into sight. I was just thinking about stretching and putting my feet up … and a pint!
Now I told you about the best part of the Path but do you know the best part of the day?! I have been joined by the one and only Impossible Turtle (trail name!) for the second half of this amazing Path!
There will be shenanigans than usual with Cheryl at my side!
Tomorrow we are walking Kington to Hay on Wye about 24km which includes a long ridge walk – and the weather looks amazing!
I started the day at the Offa’s Dyke Cottage B&B with a full Welsh breakfast and then some. I was the only one staying at the Offa’s Dyke Cottage B&B and just look at the spread they made me. Breakfast heaven!
From there, I made my way to Knighton by literally accompanying my luggage as it was transferred – a really pleasant hour drive with the luggage lady. She was so fantastic telling me a bit about the wildlife and small towns as we passed them. Such a great visit – filled up my people cup after so much time alone on the Path!
Knighton literally means ‘town of the Dyke’ and marks just over the half way point for us ramblers walking North from Prestatyn to South! A great place to pause.
I am staying at the Red Lion Inn in Knighton. The owners were so kind to let me check in super early – so it could be a foot up, little adventure, foot up kind of day.
My the little adventures have been mostly about chores – first up was a visit to the tiny little laundromat (foot up while the clothes were washing and drying) to refresh my hiking clothes for the last half of the Path.
The owner of the Red Lion Inn walked me down to the laundry so I wouldn’t miss it as it’s quite a small doorway (I would have totally missed it) and gave me a bowl of ‘washing up mix’. Literally a glass bowl from their kitchen with detergent in it. So sweet.
While doing laundry I met a nice women folding her clothes and we got to talking about the trail and books. I asked her if there was a place to buy a book in town, sadly no. We talked about how great it is to finish a book but then how bad it is to then be without a book – which is my current problem. Anyway, she left .. and 5mins later she comes in and hands me a book. She popped home to grab it for me! So, so sweet!
Back to the Inn to hang my now clean clothes and spend … you guessed it .. the afternoon with my feet up!
A little outing late afternoon to get some tape for my foot, grab an early supper and snap a few pics of this cute little town was my last adventure.
A pretty low key day that’s for sure. I am excited to get back on trail tomorrow!
Day 6 of 14 done and dusted folks! Today was a great day – the path and the weather behaved marvelously and my foot, for the most part, minded it’s own business too! A win!
The day started with a 1.5hr up, up, up and more up that got the heart pumping! It was largely through livestock fields or pastures so pretty easy walking underfoot. Nothing too-too steep but just enough of an incline that you still need to really work for it. The next gate or stile in the distance is a major milestone.
What goes up, gives you a great view, and must go down. The next section of the walk stayed up top for a bit in a forested area and included a tour of the Beacon Ring which would have been one of the beacon fire locations from the ole castle days. Very cool! (Yes Shar, like Lord of the Rings lol)
Even cooler was the Offa’s Dyke Path Stamp box I found. Scrapbookers dream! These little boxes are in a number of places along the trail and believe or not I found two of them today!
From there it was mostly a gentle downhill stroll (one uphill with stairs that went on forever) through the forest. I did see a German couple walking North but I think they were going for ‘personal best time’ so no idea where they were heading to or coming from. A ‘hiya’ and ‘good walk’ was our exchange. They were speedy!
After coming out of the forests downhill portion, it was all about the open fields and another field and another. For the most part I had the path to myself – once in a while sharing with a few sheep of course who were so kind and gave me my personal space.
Met an old American fellow also walking North he was quite excited about being in his last few+ days of this walk and waxed poetic about Cotswold Way (he did it last year).
And a few more forest bits to wrap up the day – this section reminded me of the Hobbit! (You can take a peek at the different trail highlights in a compilation video of each day on @runningforthegate Instagram)
I stopped a couple of times to do the sunscreen thing – it doesn’t really show in the photos but it was one of those overcast but still bright days. Those are when I burn the worst! Oh and one quick stop for a shoe change and half sandwich – funny how much energy you put out when walking but so little appetite. The Welcome to Shopshire signs were in so many places – what a friendly bunch!
So really it was a near solid 6hr walking day, I left at just before 10am and arrived at my B&B at 4pm. The Offa’s Dyke Cottage B&B is literally on the Path – and is absolutely amazing! I thought I was still a couple hours away but a quick map check out it at the 45min mark instead and that put a pep in the step!
I have the run of the place. They made me a fabulous cottage pie (like shepherds pie) and so many wonderful veggies for supper, now I am sitting in the guest’s living room in front of a fire with a view out over the country side. Wow! Everyone needs this gem on their ODP!
Ok that’s a wrap for the day! A tea and a book by the fireplace is in order.
Tomorrow I am off to Knighton for a heal-my-stupid-wrecked-foot-in-a-day rest so I can ‘keep swimming’ the rest of the OPD and then onto Cotswolds Way. I am all about the long game on this one peeps and am currently at about 140km of the 450km+ planned!