Cotswold Way, Day 7 Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton

Looking back at Day 7 on the Cotswold Way and our 16km hike from Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton.

This was another hot one – smack dab in the middle of the unexpected and inconvenient UK heat wave. Temps were forecasted to hit 36C but we lucked out and it topped out at a ‘comfy’ 33C while we were on the trail. Ugh! No matter, we were getting ahead of the heat by starting early again. We left the Dog Inn in Old Sodbury at 5am. It was even a touch chilly as we started out and I got to wear the thin long sleeve I had dragged from Canada for a good minute or two.

Our ramble the first hours of the day had all the things that make early morning walking my favorite! Great temp, amazing landscape, good friends and all is quiet. I find peace when walking and with these conditions, I was in complete Zen!

We walked across wheat field after wheat field, which were easy underfoot and had very little incline, as the sun came up – making the landscape (and our photos) looks pretty magical! Even the dew glistening off the spider webs in our path or across the wheat tops looked pretty and I don’t think I have ever put pretty and spider in the same sentence. Ick.

The icing on the early morning cake? We were blessed with a view of hot air balloons off in the distance. Beautiful! When planning this trip to the Cotswold many people asked ‘where is that’ and my answer was always ‘do you know those images of rolling green hills, clear blue skies and air balloons on calendars, puzzles and screen savers? That’s the Cotswolds’. I could not even believe we got to actually experience this in person. Wow, pinch me I was in a puzzle!

Following a lengthy and thoroughly enjoyable hot air balloon photo shoot – we are all scrapbookers and photograph junkies so you cannot even imagine how many photos we took collectively – we were on our way again.

Not too long later we came upon some signage that diverted the Way around a police incident on Beacon Lane or Road or some such place. The diversion didn’t change the distance we walked, just took us off then back to the route a little.

As we walked the diversion, which I think was about an hour, we discussed what the possible police incident could be. In my always very logical and pragmatic approach to life, I assumed the obvious – a multi person murder / suicide event. Oh wait maybe a horrible alien cult problem. Hmm no. Most definitely and had to be a serial killer. For sure. In stark contrast to my drama, Cheryl suggested it was likely just a grow-op. Which I interpret as a scary, international gang growing whatever makes heroine and amassing stock piles of weapons of mass destruction and serial killing. Obviously. Definitely. Whatever the reason, nothing came up in the media – we looked – so one of my assumptions is surely true if it was so very secret squirrel.

Back to the walk …

We stopped in Tormarton for our morning break – some snacks and a chance to get the feet out of our shoes and up for a bit. I personally had to break every 2-3 hours due to my pesky foot injuries and I needed to do some surgery on my hiking shoes. They were falling apart and I had been using duct tape, sports tape and a sewing kit for the last 100+ km already. They just needed to work with me for a few more days – so a bit more duct tape and sweet talking was required! ‘I love you shoes-sies, we got this! Please do not fall apart on me now’ may have been heard as I coaxed them back to hike-able condition.

Rosa was feeling the need to keep waltzing so spent a just bit of time with us at the break spot and then carried on the Way. It was fun knowing she was ahead of us and we would be ‘hunting’ her aka excited to see her again once the rest of us got going again. I am competitive person by nature so felt a bit like the greyhound with the rabbit on the track in front.

While ‘hunting’ Rosa, we passed through a fantastic forested area called Dryham Wood and came across a message box!

When Cheryl, Shar and I came across the message book, among messages from MANY walkers, we saw a note from Rosa. A proof of life that she was ahead of us and we were on her tail! The hunt continues.

After spending some time to add our own message – which included a hello to our New York friends who were behind us on the trail and a drawing of all of us by our resident artist Shar (she is mumbling ‘I am an artist’ right now as she reads this I bet) – the ‘hunt Rosa’ adventure picked up again.

Pleased to report, we found her not too far after the forest and it’s funny how good it felt to have the band back together. I think she got lonely and stopped to wait for us cause her long legs and steady pace could have our ran us all day if she wanted to.

After a bunch more kilometers, we were so excited to arrive at little cafe just off route. A dangerous road walk (think playing chicken with a big truck or 2) by Shar to confirm it was open, followed by a much safer jaunt across a field by the rest of us to join her, and we had a fantastic place for our Elevensies break. This may have included bacon rolls, hot tea, black pudding and more. Such a fantastic spot and we were out of the sun!

Today’s final walking destination was Cold Ashton, a very-tiny-wee town (read that as a grouping of houses and a parish hall) where we would be getting a pre-arranged taxi to Bath where we had our next B&B. The taxi was meant to come for us at 4pm but we were due to arrive in Cold Ashton by noon and we wanted to get the Bath asap to get out of the heat. A morning of calling and texting via WhatsApp with the taxi transport company while I walked (good thing it was easy walking today or I would have fallen in a death gully) – and we had a taxi pick up for noon!

Following our break, we made our way to Cold Ashton to make sure we were ready for the taxi. The time between arrival and pick up afforded time for a little photo session!

Our taxi was on time and made quick work of the 20min ride to the Walton’s Guest House in Bath. We would be staying at this B&B for the next 3 nights and we were excited about not packing everything each morning.

We had showers and naps and then headed out about Bath (in the sweltering heat) for the evening – this included an amazing Italian meal on the riverside for Cheryl’s birthday. The best Carbonara I ever had that day and the worst sleep ever for all of us that night – historic buildings are not built for heat waves. Sweat, toss, sweat, hit pillow in frustration, sweat, toss, and morning alarm. The belly full of pasta and pints did not help but totally worth it!

More on our Bath excursions in a future post and our final day on the Cotswolds Way too!

Brande

Cotswold Way, Day 6 Dursley to Old Sodbury

Day 6 of 8 on the Cotswold Way was the first day we saw the temperatures rise to well above the 30C mark. The heatwave that we are experiencing here in England has definitely changed our approach to the walk and I am secretly loving it .. we have decided to start these last days of the Way as the sunrises at 5am. My favourite time to be hiking! Brings back fond memories of my Camino adventure.

All of us were up at 430am (if not earlier) to get ready and quietly sneak out the doors of the Woodlands House B&B in Dursley. The B&B does not do breakfast for 430am so instead they left us a nice note and had some fruit, crisps (potato chips) and granola bars for us to grab and go. I have to admit I did missed my full English Breakfast and pot of tea.

As we started our walk with the moon heading to bed and the sun coming up all in the first hour of the day. The temperature was perfect and, crazy enough, still warm enough to be in just tank tops and shorts (a signal of the heat to come!)

The Way kicked off with a climb out of the town (of course), a nice jaunt across a golf course, some more uphill and then we were rewarded with our first break of the day at the Broadway Tower.

An amazing tower on the top of a lengthy hill surrounded by forest and fantastic footpaths all over the place. No wonder we saw so many early morning dog walkers here – they too were beating the heat of the day at a great place!

While the rest of us settled into our first break to enjoy our trial breakfast, Shar popped up the 187 steps of the tower to see the 360 views of the landscape. Adding more steps to an already 26km day on a skinny old, stone, skinny spiral staircase was not my idea of a good time. She was our tribute to head up and see what she could see – while we snacked lol.

While sitting enjoying our breakfast we heard scary, freaky animal screaming from the forest we would be entering next – like blood curdling kind of screaming. We had no idea what made the sound. A bird of prey, tortured souls, maybe a werewolf! The dogs in the area were barking heaps when it happened too. When we asked the locals who passed us what is was they also had no idea. What the heck?! I asked one chap walking his dog if there are werewolves in the areas, jokingly of course, oh wow he laughed. We chatted about our hike with him a bit more and as we said goodbye, he said ‘good luck with the beasties’. Hilarious!

Happy to report we made it through the woods safely. We may never know if it was a werewolf or white walker or a death eater.

From there we crossed field after field of crops and livestock. One crop we had not seen yet was a field of, we think, Canola plants. They were head height and the field was so long it took us quite some time to get through – poor Cheryl was in the front of our pack on spider web clearing duty and her shoulders and arms were on fire by the time we came through. Thanks Cheryl!

I took my turn on spider web clearing in the next Vegetation Corridor of Humid Hell (what we came to call skinny paths between chest height brambles and grasses). One of the down sides of getting out first on the trail is that no other hikers cleared the arachnids for us already.

One ‘exciting’ moment on the trial was when we tried to get through a pasture of cattle. Other walkers came through before us and cause the cattle to move to one end of the pasture which was quite skinny with bramble (thistle, stinging nettle, blackberry bushes, etc) and either side and our gate dead centre where the beef were currently standing. Doh!

We tried to find a high path to get past and down to the gate but nope, trued a low route and nope, tried to encourage them as a group to move along to one side or the other but nope, and tried to walk through them also nope.

After way too many minutes in the hot sun hoping they might move away from the gate on their own, we made our way through the devil brambles and used the arms wide and saying ‘Bubba Bubba Bubba’ over and over again (not sure why I used that word in the first place but we all got in on it and it worked) moved the massive cows off the path enough to get to the gate. We mostly came out unscathed…Rosa’s legs (she was the lead on the bramble taming portion of our plan) however will never be the same!

In our travels we passed a few other cool sights, another tower, a fantastic church, neat shine stile and some new Cotswold Way sign style we hadn’t seen before.

Our most favorite moment, was this sweet sign from a local child offering us weary hikers some fresh water on way too hot of a day.

Just a few kilometers from Old Sodbury, our destination for the day, we stumbled into the Beaufort Arms pub to refresh with some iced sparkling water and a look at the trail ahead. The temp was already in the 30s and we had just finished a long section of the trail where there was little or no shade to take breaks in.

As it got hot on the trail our technique was to hike from shade to shade. Cross a long pasture in the sun, take a micro standing break in the shade to cool down and slow the heart rate – repeat! During the afternoon, these shaded breaks were getting far and few between with no trees or clouds to provide refuge. We were sorta, kinda, totally melting.

Looking at the trail ahead, we had just a few km left but it was all through wide open farmland – that meant waist high crops and zero trees / shade. We would have been like mini donuts on the deep fryer conveyor belt at a carnival. I like to eat donuts not be a donut. So what to do? When in doubt let the path decide…

The bartender (we refer to her as Beaufort Bonnie now) was going into Old Sodbury at the end of her shift in an hour and offered us a ride AND the kitchen had cooked too many roasted potatoes for Sunday dinner and brought us out a warm bowl for free to enjoy. A sign to order cold pints to wash the potatoes of joy down and hitch the ride!

We arrived at the Old Sodbury, thanks Beaufort Bonnie, at about 4pm to enjoy a shower, maybe a nap, and then a great supper in the Dogs Inn pub (also our accommodation) and some pints in the beer garden with some other hikers we met along the way. Fun!

A fantastic way to end the day before we start again tomorrow at 5am again!

Brandé

Cotswold Way, Day 5 Haresfield to Dursley

Day 5 of 8 is in the books and wow what a scorcher! We are in the middle of a heat wave here in England. I could never have guessed we would be up against 35+C temperatures! Too hot!

To beat the beat, we got our day started as soon as possible – skipping the included hot breaky from the Beacon Inn for a granola, fruit and yogurt option. We also got a ride from Jaguar Jenny (her name is Jenny and she drove, you guessed it, a Jaguar) back up to the trail head to save us a 2km CLIMB up a country lane that is not part of the Cotswold Way! Seems like a small distance but a climb like that in this heat takes time and energy we needed for the actual trail. Thanks again Jenny!

From there, we still had a climb though. The Path started with a forest climb up to our first high point of the day and great views! Which we immediately followed with a decline and another climb to the next one!

After that it was a lot of agricultural land walking – a corn field, wheat field, vineyard and pastures for the rest of the morning.

We stopped for ‘elevensies’ on a grassy, shaded spot in the town of Ebley. A chance to pop off the boots and socks to dry, get the feet up and enjoy some yummy snacks and good company.

At Eberley, we had a choice to make – a scenic route up and around the town with views across the hills OR an urban route through the little towns. The routes met up again in Pen Wood.

We maximized the experience and split 2 and 2! I had the pleasure of walking the scenic route and while I did not enjoy the burning hot, steep, long pastures we had to climb or the edge of the gully we had to walk … the views were pretty awesome!

The band was back together again in a couple hours in one of the highlights of the Way, Pen Wood, for our’twosies’ break. Then we started to make our way to our home for the night, Dursley.

But not before the Cotswold threw us another curve ball with a final, STEEP climb that near did my fear of heights right in! This pic does not do it justice – how steep and and how high the path is was so intimidating from the bottom. I could reach out and touch the hill as I slowly trudged my way up and may have resorted to a few very unattractive Gollum moments.

The reward was amazing though – great views and a long downhill trudge into Dursley where we found some delicious cold pints and a fantastic dinner at the King’s Head to end our day!

Brandé

Cotswold Way, Day 4 Birdlip to Haresfeild

Day 4 of 8 of the Cotswold Way wrapped up yesterday at 23km (8.5hours) and it was one of those amazing yet full of personal challenging days on the trail…

If you have done any multi day treks you know exactly what I mean .. the trail is great but your body or your headspace or your gear or your whatever is not great and it impacts every darn step you take and every thought you have. Pretty amazing how much a small or a very big personal thing can impact your day’s 40,000+ steps regardless of how majestic the views are. For those of you who have had ‘that day’ – we see you, we honour you, we send hugs, we cheerlead you, and we cheers your perseverance no matter what that looks like for you!

We started the day with a short but a death defying jog down a busy road from our hotel to the trail head – good morning! Then we were right away into a long and peaceful forest track for quite and time. Meeting dog walkers and petting some pups on our way.

From there we had our usual forest track mixed with fields and some lane bits…

We had the chance to stop a golf course the path runs directly through the middle of for our first break – snacks and an accidental half-pint! Such a good little stop.

From there we kept on trucking and made our way into Painswick. We had the chance to visit Saint Mary’s Church that has 99 Yew tree growing – legend has it the devil will not let the 100th Yew tree grow. Pretty amazing.

We met the cutest little grandma on the trail and her grand-doggie Teddy and got some puppy pets in before we grabbed some lunch for our afternoon break and headed out of town. We stopped on a grassy hill just out of town and enjoyed a socks and shoes off with feet up yummy lunch!

Just after lunch we were rewarded with, of course, some big steep climbs out of the town – we have come to expect this after every town – and the ‘halfway’ point. Just 55 miles to Bath and 47 miles to Chipping Campden .. so not really, really the half way point but still photo worthy! This marker was in the middle of some farmer’s cattle field.

From there we were in the home stretch (well a couple hours of home stretch but who is counting .. we were every kilometer!).

We finished the day with a 1.4 kilometer downhill lane off the Path into Haresfeild straight into our home for the night, the Beacon Inn. This place was pretty fantastic! We were all jammed into the same room like a summer camp and oh the arrival pint on the deck was exactly what we needed to cheers the day! A few visits by their pet chicken George as we sat on the patio was a nice touch too!

Brandé

Cotswold Way, Day 3 Cleeve Hill to Birdlip

Day 3 of 8 of the Cotswold Way is complete.

While this was a long one clocking in at a final 27km and over 9hours on the trail (breaks, photos, and random wandering included), it was a fantastic day! I really liked the trail today except for the ‘valley of death drop’ – my name for the approx 1km on tiny sheep trails on the edge of a deep gully. I hate heights so my heart was racing big style to push through that part!

We started the day from The Rising Sun Hotel with a good breakfast and, you guessed it, a STEEP climb up out of Cleeve Hill to the highest point of the Way. At over 300m this is the highest point of the trail.

After a quick ‘spontaneous energizing dance party’, we walked and walked and walked – stopping around noon for our lunch spot and again at 2-ish our afternoon break when we found a great shady spot and when the dogs were barking (aka feet were starting to make themselves heard!)

We found an awesome spot for a cold drink just as the sun started to heat up mid-afternoon at a diner on the side of the road. The staff were less than friendly but the Fanta was delicious!

We wrapped up the day with our feet up and a wee dram of Honey Mead before showers and an awesome dinner and some drinks at the bar right in the Royal Oak Hotel where we were staying!

A fantastic day that felt longer than planned of course but wow does it feel great to be sore but happy when you arrive exhausted at the hotel!

Brandé

Cotswold Way, Day1 Chipping Campden to Wood Stanway

Day 1 of 8 of the Cotswold Way is a wrap and wow there is just nothing like it!

The Cotswold walk is a National Path in England from Chipping Campden to Bath. The distance is 164 kilometers and the trail is largely rolling hills between quintessential butterscotch colored brick and thatched roof buildings clustered together into small villages. The buildings are so different than any other area I have walked in before in the UK – so signature! Very touristy compared to Offa’s Dyke Path truth be told but only in the towns. While on the Path it’s just us and nature!

We (myself, my sister Shar and our two besties Rosa and Cheryl) kicked of the fun this morning just after 8am at the official start/finish – which is the very old market area of Chipping Campden.

From there we made our way out of town and and across parkland and pastures and quiet lanes most of the day. The temp was meant to be about 24degrees so we were a bit worried about walking in the heat – but the ‘trail provides’ as they say and it was warm but we had cloud cover all day. Yahoo!

We walked right through a little village called Broadway where we stopped for a fantastic lunch at the deli. A goat cheese with chili jam and red onions toastie (panini) for lunch? Yes please!

We made our way out … or should I say up .. from Broadway after lunch to enjoy more pastures, quiet lanes, and parkland.

Our afternoon (or two-sies) break was on some well placed rocks along a quiet lane – just long enough to have a bit of a snack and for me to put my foot up for a wee bit. If I stay ahead of it with pain killers, sports tape and elevation for a bit every 10+ kilometers – its golden!

As we came into Stanway, a small village just before the hamlet where we are staying called Wood Stanway, we discovered the Stanway Fountain and Manor House was open. So we popped in for a break at the 300 foot fountain (largest gravity fountain in the world?) and a look around the home and estate that has been with the same family since the 1600s. You can even tour the actual manor house – but not the house kitchen as the Earl himself was making a cup of tea. For reals!

From there it was a short skip and a jump (ok at 20+ kilometers there was no actual skipping and jumping) we arrived at the Wood Stanway Farmhouse our B&B got the night. Not only was this B&B farm house built over 400 years ago, but our host Maggie was amazing, and she made us a delicious home-cooked meal for dinner. Wow! Checks all the boxes.

That’s an early night for us. 2 of our crew are still adjusting to their 7hr time change and all of us are keen to get a good sleep and on the Path early tomorrow before the day gets too hot!

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day14 Tintern to Sedbury

Day 14 of 14 done! That’s right today we reached the ‘finish line’ – wrapping up the Offa’s Dyke Path adventure in Sedbury!

We started the day in Tintern cross a very cool old Tramway Bridge that is now only for pedestrians and bikes to cross the River Wye (which seems to be pronounced We in mid to North Wales but in South Wales is Way). You could see the amazing Abbey ruins to the right as we walked across!

Then we had a longer than expected flat forest walk to kick off the morning .. aka we got to chatting and missed out turn (there was no sign post or way marking in our defense)! We ended up adding an extra couple of kilometers when we back tracked but also a great conversation – so still a win.

We got ourselves sorted and were happy to see the first Offa’s Dyke Signage for the day!

From there it was up and up and up into the forest which had a very Lord of the Rings vibe to it – so fantastic! There were many Gondor and Elves and Baggins and Shire references. Largely by me, total Tolkien nerd!

Our time in the forest continued for the morning and into the early afternoon. Thank goodness as the day quickly heating up to 26C and the shade of the trees and soft path kept us cool and warm for most of the day!

We had our lunch at the top of the forest at a place called the Devil’s Pulpit – with views of the Tintern Abbey again but much farther below.

I may have jinxed my juju up too though … there is a ancient Yew tree that is growing it of som rocks and I put out some incense someone had burning by the tree. They lit it and walked away – no one was around. Sorry but burning and forest are not a good mix and I could not just walk away from it! Hope I didn’t screw up anyone’s ritual or something.

After the forest we had some field walking and then we were in Chepstow (Wales) and then Sedbury (England) for the official finish of the path. It is a bit of an underwhelming finish, truth be told, after so much amazing scenery and then just ending in city stuff. I guess one of the benefits of walking the other direction is finishing with your toes in the ocean in Prestatyn. But we were elated all the same!

That’s a wrap on Offa’s!

Now a couple days to recover and then we will start the Cotswold Way …

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, 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, Day3 Clywyd Gate to Llangollen

Day 3 of 14 complete and what a beauty – I got a bit of everything today. Quiet lane waking, some hard work up and over livestock fields, quiet and dark forest paths, and even a lengthy and amazing stone pathed bog (my favorite!)

I topped out at 26 kilometers today in just over 8 hours and honestly I felt every step. Maybe a good time for a foot update…

4 months ago in a soccer / futbol match I tore 2 ligaments in my right foot. Not ruptured but a grade 3 tear aka barely hanging on. You cannot fix ligaments except with surgery and they don’t do that until they are fully torn (ruptured). The result was months of physiotherapy to make my foot and ankle and calf and hamstring stronger so they compensate for these now wimpy ligaments.

Well as I walk farther and harder (up and down steep sections of which are around every corner or stile) my muscles get tired which then let’s those ligaments misbehave. Long story long, we are only day 3 and every step feels like fire in my heel and a punch in the arch. Once I get a good clip on it feels much better (not gone) but after any break or pause it’s a bit of torture for a while and I am pretty super sore at night. Combine that with the rocky surface or cow churned up field and holy-heck-ouch. I have pain killers (not sure they work) and topical pain killer cream (I think helps a bit) and stretches but it’s feeling pretty ick.

I may need to build in a rest day and that makes this long distance hiker’s heart break – i will think about it over the next few days and pick it strategically if I do. I don’t want to mess up the Cotswold Way Walk that I do just after Offa’s with my sister Shar and our besties Rosa and Cheryl. I do have a rest day between so that’s good this and that – so that’s good!

Back to the good stuff …

I put up a compilation video on @runningforthegate Instagram off some of the different trail bits to give you an idea of that too.

What I didn’t get to do today was the scree crossing – this terrified of heights gal just couldn’t make it happen. I thought it was pretty short like 100-200meters and was fully prepared to make it /happen. But, oh no my friends it is over 2 MILES or 3.2 KILOMETERS long and there is NO exit and is largely just shoulder width with nothing on the edge. You have to strategically think about how you pass people. That is just too much for me. Ugh thinking about it makes me all tummy floppy. The tipping point was honestly 3 different walkers I passed who had just come from that section encouraging me (without prompting) to take the alternative lane route – that is was awful. Lane it is!

To give you an idea of what this scree crossing is all about … here is a photo of the scree path from the nice, flat, quiet and quaint lane I was walking (it runs parallel). See that line across the mid point of the scree slide? That is the path! The second picture is the same shot just super zoomed in to show you the hikers up there that you cannot even see in my first photo it’s so high and scary and awful and no thanks!

My day near wrapped up with a break on a bench (that they call seat around these parts) admiring the ruins of the Dinas Bras Castle – or as one old gent put it when he asked where I was headed as I walked past his farm ‘that there is a real castle not like one of those pretty Edwardian things England offers’. While having my break, I ate my classic apple and a chocolate as another old guy and I exchanged stories of our long distance walks, his favorite was West Highland Way. Me too!

From there it was a 40 min lane stroll down into Llangollen where I am staying at the Squirrels B&B which is amazing! My room is so great and perfect and I enjoyed a warm tea, some cookies and a little nap with my feet up the wall as soon as I strolled in.

After that, a short stroll to check out this cute little town – and grab a pint and dinner, of course. What a cute little town!

Tomorrow is another 26km but looks pretty amazing .. and will be as I am going to wake up and my foot will be all fixed! 😉

Brandé