From Dyke to Duct

Back on Offa’s Dyke today and managed to get a map in a local Post Office. I feel so much more comfortable with an OS map even if I am on a well way marked trail. When I woke up this morning I opened the tent flap and got a brew on the go. Early morning dog walkers on the tow path shouted a jovial good morning across the canal to me thus confirming that this is the friendliest place in the world.

sheep wool hanging from barbed wire fence
Welsh bunting
viewpoint looking into cloud sky
nice view if you could see it
tea making facilituies next to a stile
a stilish brew

Today I say good bye to The Dyke and headed off to Chirk to meet up with Kerriann and Hugo who have brought up essential supplies. I am also going to take my first day off as I think I have minor sprains in both feet, they hurt if they twist sideways. I think a day off will do me good.
I met a couple of walkers from Cornwall today who have been considering what to do when they retire – they have been walking Offa’s Dyke with friends in weekend stages. They felt the weight of my rucksack and immediately ruled out wild camping LEJOG ! 

end of Offa's Dyke
goodbye to the dyke
canal boats on an aqueduct
Chirk Aqueduct

It’s lovely to meet up with Kerriann and Hugo and to have a long soak in a hotel bath.

The Shropshire Rollercoaster

Today’s section of Offa’s Dyke was difficult but beautiful with stunning views. This section of the route is known as the Shropshire Rollercoaster. Take a look at the contours on the map and you’ll see how steep the climbs are – the closer the contour lines the steeper the hill. I take them very, very slowly, especially on a sunny day like today. I also give myself a breather every 100 steps. One advantage of taking lots of breaks is that I get to notice the wildlife and especially the kites and buzzards that seemed to circle over me like vultures over a dying animal. Maybe I looked worse than I felt.

Offa's contours
check out those contours, phwoar!

I met a few walkers that were suffering today, one had set daily targets of 17 miles plus and was, I think, regretting it. Having hauled myself up and down the hills I was looking forward to a pint of shandy or two at the Blue Bell pub but no such luck – it doesn’t open at lunchtimes. I sat down outside the pub and looked at my maps – with no pub lunch I would need provisions. A lovely chap pulled up in his van and rearranged things on his roof rack then wandered over and started telling me about the area. He advised me to go into Montgomery which has pubs (open ones), shops etc. He also advised that I should follow the Shropshire Union Canal after Welshpool – an easier and more interesting route he said. Thank you nice man.

I’ve booked into an lovely B & B called Llwyn House in Montgomery. I’ve had a soak in a Radox bath and my washing is done and drying. Linda who runs this establishment didn’t even seem to notice how smelly I must be after several days of wild camping with no water.

When Offa built his dyke in the 8th century he managed to avoid almost all the pubs and shops – bloody silly of him if you ask me!

I recall that the ancient track, The Ridgeway, had similar problems. One has to drop down into the villages to find water, shops and pubs then have the steep climb back up to the path.

I had the bright idea of photographing all the styles today to show you how many there are and how beautiful some of them are. By 10 o’clock in the morning I realised that there are far too many to make this practical. So here are some styles in the sun before 10. I particularly like the triple decker with zigzag steps – which one do you prefer? Do you think I am becoming a style nerd?

It was also a rare surprise to find a water tap on the path.

Shropshire tap
loving this tap

Maybe tomorrow I will do the gates of Offa’s Dyke before 10 am. What do you think? Feel free to suggest themes for these blogs.

I could have done with my hat today in the sunshine – my face is looking rather weathered.

Boundaries and Breakfast

Walking along Offa’s Dyke has got me thinking about boundaries. It seems that Offa built this bloody great long dyke just to mark the boundary- to show people what was his. It’s not a defensive structure; it would be impossible to make one this long. What a lot of effort simply to mark a boundary.

I’ve been drifting in and out of Wales for a week or more now and to be honest everything is the same; the trees, the sheep, the weather, the people, the churches, birds. The difference is simply a line drawn by man on a map or, in Offa’s case, a big ditch and mound. Yet boundaries cause so many problems, wars and disputes.  When I wild camp, like now, in an empty patch of land it seems madness that I am acting illegally; somebody owns this plot and could, technically, turf me off it because of a line on a map.

I’ve just had a visitor, a nice local chap who has invited me in to his cottage for a cup of tea in the morning – that’s nice.

Shropshire tap
nice to have a supportive tap

Mick and Gayle overtook me today; they’re the couple who have walked LEJOG before. In looking at their blog I notice that they’ve also walked from the South Eastern corner of Britain to the North Western corner of Scotland; now that is impressive! Take a look at their blog

I had a lovely pub lunch in Knighton and then tackled a massive climb to the ridge – the sun was shining and it was hot. When I eventually got to the top, I stripped a few layers off and laid out in the sun and snoozed for an hour. It was lovely.

I have had a request (Anthony) for a culinary edition of the blog but every day has been different. So best I just use today as an example:

Breakfast – I have run out of porridge so had dehydrated noodles instead (can’t remember the flavour but they all taste the same).  The surplus water made a cup of tea.

Lunch in a pub- leg of lamb with rosemary, mint and seasonal vegetables followed by a sponge pudding with custard. Wash that lot down with two pints of bitter shandy.

Filled up my two 750ml water containers.

Afternoon snack – Mars bar.

2nd afternoon snack – bag of nuts and raisins.

Evening – large mug of tea. Dehydrated mushroom soup.

Any nutritionists out there? Is this a good diet? Probably not – but I reckon you can eat what you want on a walk like this.

Am camped close to another trig point tonight. My friend Arthur sent me this link to a lovely article on trig points – l love the painted ones .