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 6 walking from Trefonen to Pool Quay on 10th April 2010 (15 miles).
After the wonderful evening the night before with Jude and her family, a fantastic cooked breakfast (the best black pudding ever!), and a leisurely start to the morning, Alex and I were in high spirits ready for the day ahead. It looked to be another warm and sunny day, my feet seemed much better, and Alex was even quite happy despite losing the coin toss (again)!
The first part of the day was mainly sheep fields and tiny country lanes, but we were eventually rewarded(?) with a steep climb up to the top of Llanymynech Hill. The hill has a golf course on its flat top, and we followed Offa’s Dyke around the edge watching the golfers.
The hill was the site of a battleground for Caractacus in AD 50, in his quest to rid the country of Romans, and the gold course straddles the English-Welsh border [Source – Wikipedia]. The south side of the hill has some picturesque cliffs, caused by lime mining in the area, where we met the support team who had bravely climbed part of the hill to escort us down to Llanyomynech village and lunch!
This stretch of Offa’s Dyke is renowned for being “the dull bit” – to be fair it is probably a nice little stretch in it’s own right, following the Montgomery Canal and the River Severn, but it is definitely the least interesting part of Offa’s Dyke path overall. The problems with my feet had also started to reappear, and without anything interesting to take my mind off the pain, every step became a struggle.
During the afternoon, we encountered several obstacles. The first obstacle was crossing a, fortunately not that busy, lorry park – the footpath, which cut straight through the park, was bordered by yellow lines which really did not leave you feeling very protected from the lorries all around you.
Almost immediately we hit the second obstacle as we tried to pass the edge of a cow farm – at first the ground seemed to just be dried mud, but when the dog sunk to her waist we realised in horror that it was actually deep moist cow excrement that had crusted over! The dog was completely covered in the stuff! We just about managed to negotiate the obstacle by jumping across floating hay bails, scaling walls and clambering on gates to keep off the ground.
To add insult to injury, once we had struggled through the excrement, we discovered that the Offa’s Dyke path had (sensibly) been routed around the farm – obvious if you were coming from the South, but impossible to see from the North! The dog was thrown into the next available river to clean off (but not before licking some equally unpleasant liquid being injected into a field we were crossing).
The remainder of the day was spent walking the Severn embankment, a flood defense built on top of Offa’s Dyke – it really wasn’t the same, and my aching feet made the last few miles pass very slowly.
It was with great relief when we finally made it to The Powis Arms in Pool Quay, where Alex’s mum was waiting for us – it took several beers and a huge plate of food before my feet started feeling slightly better! The food was great, and the owners of the pub are quite happy to let walkers on Offa’s Dyke camp in the beer garden (although they also have some bnb rooms for the less adventurous)!
Day 6 was tough – but nothing would prepare me for my struggles on Day 7… to be continued…