Offa’s Dyke Path, Day13 Monmouth to Tintern

Day 13 of 14 done and I feel like I am still melting – it was past 10am and over 20C before we left Monmouth this morning! Thank goodness for the forest sections we walked which gave us some incline challenges but at last they had some shade!

The immediate and long incline out of Monmouth was enough to intimidate but we ‘just kept swimming’. Gaining a bit more energy and pep as we moved farther away from the traffic sounds of the city, and as family and friends were waking up back home to text good morning. That little taste / text of home is so special when you abroad!

Through the day we switched between cooling forest walks and super sweaty pasture crossings! Literally taking a micro break in the shade, powering through the sunny bits into another shady spot for another break. Have you see the movie Riddick? Yah, that.

We wrapped the walking day up with a final 3 miles along the River Wye … which sounds amazing and as if there would be a cool breeze a some trees for shade, right? Nope! The above photo is what it was. Far enough away from the river to just be a hot, long pasture walk that felt like it was way, way too long! We did find a neat little picnic spot and managed to convince King Offa himself to pose for a selfie with us though so that helped.

We made it to our gorgeous accommodation, the Parva Guesthouse, around 5pm and wow did it feel good to get the boots of the hot feet. My dogs were barking big time. A shower (which may have flooded the bathroom thanks to horrible plumbing here) and some electrolytes – and we were ready for dinner.

After dinner, when the light was perfect for photographs, we walked the 15mins to the Tintern Abbey ruins – wow, just wow!

A final photo of the River Wye on our way back to the Farmhouse before settling in for the night with a tea and a cookie while we reminisce about the day and plan tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the LAST day. I am a little emotional that it is wrapping up already! We walk from Tintern to Sedbury Cliffs – the weather will be high 20s and luckily we are looking at just 16 kilometers.

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day12 Llangattock-Langoed to Monmouth

Day 12 of 14 done and it was a long but amazing one on the Path today. Clocking in at 26 kilometers and 24 degrees we arrived in Monmouth just before 5pm.

We stared the morning with a full cooked breakfast which include sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, beans, egg, fried mushrooms, toast, and some yogurt and fruit. Sometimes you even get some black pudding mmmm. All washed down with tea of course. A big breakfast fuels the hike for hours!

We joined the Path literally steps from the Old Rectory B&B door …I am on the Path and Impossible Turtle is leaving the B&B in this photo. Love it!

From there we made our way down an initial steep section and then across farmland. At about 1.5hrs the Path passed right by White Castle. Wow! We toured around the castle ruins for a good half an hour – so amazing. The pictures do not do it justice. I put up a video on the Instagram Running for the Gate but still the sheer size of all that remains is just unreal.

From White Castle, we spent the next few hours crossing more pastures and farm land and through an apple orchard. We stopped on little stone bridge for our lunch – our break spots are based on where I can toss of the hiking shoes and put the feet up for a break. Each break makes the next couple hours that much easier. Happy feet = happy hiker!

We had the pleasure of passing the ‘St. Michael’s Church of the Fiery Meteor’ in the small village of Llanvinhangel-Ystern-Llewern. (I could not makeup these names if I tried .. and it is quite entertaining to spend some of our trail time trying to pronounce the towns!)

A couple of hours later we took another short break alongside the River Wye in a fantastic little spot (thanks to the farmer for the bench … or seat as our guide book calls them).

From there we got a much welcomed break from the sun with some forest sections – hello soft walking and shade! We were just 3 miles from Monmouth at this point and keen to wrap up the day with a tea, a shower and then a pint!

Another short jaunt through some pastures we arrived in Monmouth – greeted by the fantastic bridge and tower at the start of the city centre walk and some great old buildings!

We checked in at the Ebberley House B&B (last photo below – you can see our hiking stuff hanging in the windows) and made our way to the town square for some dinner and a little more roaming around this great town! Seems they like pubs with the word Head in them – we saw an Old Nags Head Pub, The Kings Head, and the Queens Head Inn. Interesting! We also found the Monmouth Castle ruins.

A fantastic day, now off the cream up the accidental sunburn and get these feet ready for tomorrow’s walk. We are up for 10.5 miles to our accommodation at the Parva Farmhouse but taking on a little extra so we can spend some time at the Tintern Abbey ruins. Love all this old, stone stuff.

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day11 Pandy to Llangattock-Langoed

Day 11 of 14 done and this one included a few tourist opportunities too!

We started the day with a delicious cooked breakfast at The Crown Inn, and then made our way to the Longtown Castle.

There is a lot left to these castle ruins and while we were sad to see you could no longer go into the tower (repairs required to make it safe) there was enough stone walls and arches to imagine what this castle would have been like! Originally a Roman fort it was later used by the Saxons – built in the 13th century. Wow!

From the castle it was just steps away to the church also built in the 13th century. I cannot believe how well loved this church is, beautiful gardens and flower beds and still the place to go worship in the town and surrounding area.

We then made our way to the Old Pandy Inn in the wee village of, you guessed it, Pandy. This pub is known for their yummy Welsh Faggots.

I love trying very local fare – whatever that country or region boasts as a local favourite or staple. From Mopami worms deep fried and dipped in Peri Peri sauce in Zimbabwe to an entire foot long squid grilled over an open flame with lemon and pepper in Greece – I am in!

Welsh Faggots are basically meatballs but honour cooking ‘nose to tail’ .. so include all the bits and offal that would not be part of other cuts you might usually buy at the butcher. An interesting thought as you are eating them but they were really good. Served with mushy peas, gravy and chips. Yummy!

From there we made our way to Llangoteck-Langoed (try pronouncing that one!) – the path was largely agricultural with pastures and lots of crop fields. A few sweaty uphills to get the heart pumping and nothing but sunshine to get these hiker tan lines solidified!

From there we spent some time exploring the St Cadoc Church which is literally right next to our B&B .. I am trying to not think about all the 200+ year old gravestones just feet from my bedroom window. Who you gonna call?

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little sink laundry and then letting it dry in the garden under the sun while we journaled and read and chatting about our last 3 days ahead of us.

Then to the pub for a pint of some local brew and cider (Robinson’s Cider is epic by the way) .. after stopping for a little guillotine photo shoot on the way as you do!

Tomorrow we are off to Monmouth and right on the Path we get to visit White Castle. It’s a longer day at 22+ km but the weather looks great and the path inviting!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day10 Hay-on-Wye to Longtown

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!)

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day9 Kington to Hay-on-Wye

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!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day8 Knighton to Kington

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!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day7 Day of Rest

Today is a rest day for this gal!

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!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day6 Buttington to Lower Cym

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!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day5 Trefonen to Welshpool

Day 5 of 14 done and I loved it! Ok full disclosure it was a LONG 27km that took me over 8hrs to complete and the last couple of kilometers along the canal and then through Welshpool city to town centre seemed to take FOREVER … but what an easy walking, long stride, sunny day!

I started the day with sunglasses on and a climb through grassy sheep filled fields to the top of Moelydd at 934feet. A nice little warm up to the day – a little yoga and stretching may or may not have occurred at the top.

From there the path moved into some fantastic forest walking. A little dark, soft underfoot, sounds muted and another very steep and long climb up to the Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve. Such a great section of the trail and oddly some of it was along a golf course!

The only downside – I was clearly the first person through the forest this morning. I was glittering with webs by the time I made it through and had to send a few 8 legged hitch hikers on their way. Free loaders!

As I came down from the Reserve I was surprised to be welcomed to England! I knew the Offa’s Dyke crossed the border a few times but just felt odd to actually experience being in Wales one minute and England the next! And no one asked for my passport of vaccine proof lol.

The next bit was a couple hours walking the canal. This section is ‘dead flat’ as per my guide book and the entertainment was all the different tunnels/bridges.

From canal to cattle … I spent the next couple of hours walking a very, very, very long grassy embankment through so many livestock fields. The benefit of sheep – they are cute and move for you. The downside of cattle – they are also kinda cute but you move for them. This can add both a lot of steps and a lot of thistles and stinging nettles to your day as as you try and find ways to give them a wide berth. I felt like they were on my path EVERY TIME!

Along the embankment section I met a couple of ladies who where from England and walking the Path but crazy enough had lived in Vancouver for 20 years as nannies! I also met Al (an older American gentlemen who may also be doing the Cotswold next) and is the very same walker I was asked to say hello to by Bruce (an older English / Australian) who I met on the Path yesterday. What a network!

Now back to canal … I finished the day with a couple more hours on the canal. While maybe a bit monotonous there are some benefits – like a bench every once and a while for a snack or to throw the throbbing feet up for a wee bit.

Highlight of the day? This wee guy peeking at me as I was walking along the canal! I wanted to just cuddle and keep him so bad. Cute!!

I wrapped up in Welshpool at the 300 year old Royal Oak Inn that I am sure is haunted… but I enjoy my large glass of wine so I sleep like a baby and then wait to Google ‘ghosts of Royal Oak Inn’ tomorrow when I am already well on my way!

Speaking of tomorrow, I am off to Lower Cym and staying at the Offa’s Dyke Path B&B right on the Path. My last waking day before a rest day.

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day4 Llangollen to Trefonen

Day 4 of 14 done and today was such a pleasure. I am between mountain ranges and very much appreciated the valley time today. Do not get me wrong, there were some doozy climbs but loads of rolling slopes too and these stems can eat those kilometers right up!

After a ride back up to Dinas Bras at 930am I started my day. A couple+ hours later than my preference but that is how B&Bs roll … if you want the breaky part of the B&B that is!

The day started with a lane walk but quickly shifted into fields and a lot of forest walking too – so quiet and so soft underground in the forest! Trevor Hall Forest was perfection!

From forest to canal! I was excited to walk along the canal for a while – seeing the very long passenger boats go by was so neat. Next time I think a canal ride between towns and then walking the rest of a day would be magic.

I chose the low path along the canal to get photos of the 126 foot high aqua-duct that the canal runs across (even the boats). The walk way on the aqua-duct is an alternative Offa’s Dyke Path route for those who like heights and we have established I do not!

After my canal time, it was field to lane to rocky trail again for the rest of the afternoon. The threat of rain hung in the air all day – but only torrential rained twice for a short time (less than 30mins) and immediately followed by sunny skies! Yahoo.

I did have a run in with some very stubborn milk cows .. these little jerks would not move so I could walk through. They just looked at me and kept eating grass. When I did a little arms wide ‘move on ladies’ they all stopped eating and looked at me.

That scared me a little, so I used the barb wire fence to try to gracefully cross a cow crap / bog swamp thing and well that failed miserably when I slipped off a stone into the ick and could feel my blister burst on impact. Ugh so sanitary.

Finally made my way across the poo bog and gave all the cows a wide berth to get across the field. But then they started following me. Ugh I double timed it big time! I am not drinking milk for a week – that will learn em!

(When I did Hadrian’s Wall Path in 2008 I was literally chased by a bull so I may be a little sensitive to the whole bovine thing.)

One of my big highlights today was meeting a fantastic couple on this bridge. They retired in Australia and are on a 3 month walking holiday, they have done a few Paths here I Uk have done (like Wes Highland Way) and a few I want to (like Coast to Coast) and … believe it or not .. they will be doing the Cotswold at the same time we are! Chess and Susie – hope to see you again but maybe let’s not stand about chatting for 30mins on the Path next time 😉 Pub would be better!

I finished up my day at 21km today and caught my transport into Oswestry – another fantastic little town to check out!

That last one there is my wee home for the night and my room has a Nespresso and a milk frother in it! I have not had a coffee since I left home – I may have done a little happy dance and forgave the cow jerks from earlier.

Tomorrow I am off to Welshpool which will be a 24km walk with more time on the canal – my foot is loving the easy walking. A good ‘rest’ as the next mountain days are looming.

Brandé