In April 2010, Alex and I (and my dog) undertook an epic adventure to walk the Offa’s Dyke National Trail in aid of MS Society. This is my account of Day 5, on 9th April 2010, walking Llangollen to Trefonen (16 miles)
After a light breakfast we climbed back up the hill to rejoin the official route. Alex summarised our morning routine (quite accurately!): “Settled into morning routine,get up,wash,dress,breakfast,lose the coin toss,carry the heavy bag.Set off.”
This leg consists of a significant amount of tarmac, initially following the picturesque high road above Llangollen before dropping down to Telford’s Pont Cysyllte canal aqueduct. The weather was cloudy but warm, and it was safe to say neither of us felt particularly inspired – we just kept on trudging to eat up the miles!
As we approached the aquaduct we decided to take the alternative route which takes us over the aquaduct, fortuitously this also meant we came across a tea shop – which meant a relaxing break in the sunshine drinking tea.
The aquaduct is the longest and highest one in Britain – a grade I listed building and a World Heritage Site (source – Wikpedia). To be honest I am not sure we thought about crossing it all the way through – there we were with big rucksacks (in my case with a big roll mat sticking out) and a dog which looks scary to children and is overly “friendly” to other dogs, trying to walk down a metre wide tow path (water one side and a big drop the other) filled with tourists, children and their dogs. We made it to the other side, but it was possibly the most stressful experience of my life!
After a few more miles of trudging along canal tow path (interestingly at one point we were 50m from a layby we broke down in the year before on the way to a training weekend in Snowdonia) we came upon Pete (@Pete_Knight on Twitter) who was walking with us for the rest of the day. Pete is a veteran of Offa’s Dyke, having walked the path the previous year. We found Pete very knowledgeable and personable – and we were very grateful to have him along on what had so far been a day of trudging.
Another motivational pick me up was our first encounter with the actual Offa’s Dyke (thus far we had been following the Offa’s Dyke route with no sign of the Dyke!). It does not look like much at this point – but it put us back in touch with the history of the route we are following!
After several more miles of hard earth and tarmac, we took the permissive route to Chirk Castle to meet up with the support team. At this point I was starting to really suffer from sore and painful feet – so a break was much needed.
Chirk Castle, now managed by The National Trust, was built in1295 as part of King Edward I’s chain of fortresses across the North of Wales (source: Wikipedia). A permissive route on Offa’s Dyke is open April to September which takes you through the grounds and right past the castle itself.
From Chirk Castle, and a fairly steep climb, the route rejoins Offa’s Dyke which it follows for several miles.
To be honest the rest of the day was a bit of blur – my feet were absolutely agony and all I could do was focus on keeping going. There was a lot more roads and the remains of the Oswestry Racecourse. By the time we reached the pub in Trefonen (which is also the location of the Offa’s Dyke brewery) I could barely walk and my feet felt like they were on fire. After a quick pint, we bid farewell to Pete – I was very grateful for his company, as his conversation kept me distracted from the pain in my feet!
We had struggled to find a campsite anywhere near Trefonen, but thanks to the wonders of Twitter, we had arranged to camp in the garden of Jude (@JabberingJude) who lived nearby. I came across Jude after doing a local search and asked her for recommendations of local campsites – without hesitation she had offered us space in her garden!
Alex and I had a thoroughly top evening with Jude, her husband Gary, and their lovely children – and we were spoiled rotten: home cooked dinner, fresh flapjack, beer, and a cooked breakfast in the morning (with possibly the best black pudding we have ever had). We had a lot of fun – and it was definitely our latest night to bed of the whole trip!
Jude is a fantastic artist, and you can see some of her work on her website: http://www.artbyjude.co.uk/
Gary runs his own business GWR Fasteners – http://www.gwr-fasteners.co.uk/