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 8 walking from Brompton Crossroads to Knighton on 12th April 2010 (13.5 miles).
We had a good night’s rest at Millington Hall – it has such an amazing location, and in the morning it was so peaceful with the sound of a horde of woodpeckers tapping away among the trees. The only concern was that my dog, who had so far thoroughly enjoyed her super-long dog walk, was off her food the night before (probably due to the nasty things she had come in contact with a couple of days before)
As we packed up camp, the support team arrived so that my dad, a doctor, could strap up my feet (and give me pain killers) to hopefully reduce the issues I was having with my metatarsal bridge, and we headed out on what is viewed as the hardest part of Offa’s Dyke – the Switchback across the Shropshire Hills.
To get an idea of the Switchback, lay your fingers on a table in front of you – now imagine each finger is a hill and then walking from left to right having to go up and down each finger!
Just after leaving the campsite, we got a tweet from @Boidy, asking us to wave at a cottage just down the lane. As we waved (don’t ask why we actually did!), a man came out who turned out to be a old friend of @Boidy. After a chat, and a very generous offer of provisions (we declined having stocked up from the support vehicle), we headed out into the hills.
The actual Offa’s Dyke is at it’s best on this leg of the national trail. It was our constant companion as we climbed up and down each hill, and it is not hard to imagine how big a job it must have been to build it. I have to admit to a little secret though, whilst this leg was fairly hard work, it was not as difficult as I had imagined. The drops were quite steep, but the inclines were fairly steady – we could both imagine it being much harder work coming North (which most people do)!
On a technical note, this leg was the first time I struggled with mobile signal . Previously I had a surprisingly good connection most of the time with T-Mobile, but the Shropshire Hills meant a good few hours “in the dark”. Fortunately Viewranger, the software we were using for our live routes, has a facility to save your location and update when the signal reappears, although I did miss our constant Twitter companions (I should perhaps add that both Alex and the support team had terrible signal for most of the challenge – they were both on O2!)
At lunchtime we met up with the support team, who had been busy buying a new water pouch (mine had burst the day before) and a proper metatarsal bridge support. They also delivered a care package from @HoptonHouseBnB, where they were staying for the next few days – some absolutely legendary home baked goods! Karen, who runs Hopton House, had been a supporter of us since the very start, and I understand her breakfast’s are to die for!
Whilst munching on a delicious muffin, I sadly had to make the decision to leave my dog with the support team for the rest of the day. She was not in pain or slowing us down, but I could tell she was tired, and considering she had not eaten the day before, I felt it was for the best. After all, she has no concept of what the challenge is about, and it seemed unfair if she was not completely enjoying herself.
Whilst I missed my dog for the rest of the day, I have to admit to enjoying not having the constant pulling on my arms (and my feet). In no time at all we had climbed and descended the last few hills into Knighton.
We were camping at Panpwnton Camp Site, literally just off Offa’s Dyke before entering Knighton. I was reunited with my dog, who was a bundle of energy after her afternoon off (I am pleased to report that she also wolfed down her dinner!). After a hard, but enjoyable day, we put up the tent, and then headed into town for a pub dinner and a few pints!