You ever have one of those days when your body feels broken and you wonder why you put yourself through it? I admit it I'm shattered after another hiking weekend of misrepresented hike lengths (tip ... add at least half again to any number told!) and body parts which keep failing to meet my personal expectations! On the plus side I did sleep well and NO BLISTERS which after the last few trips is a miracle!!!
The Welsh border lands (the Welsh Marches) and walking along the Offa's Dyke Path is one of the great walks in the United Kingdom (apparently). The Path stretches 177 miles from Chepstow in South Wales all the way up to Prestatyn on Liverpool Bay right up north. This weekend we got to played on two different bits of the Path.
Saturday was billed as a '11 mile' hike along Hatterrall Ridge in the Black Mountains, but you could do the 14 mile extreme option if you needed a challenge (I tend to find with hiking I'm challenged enough!).
The reality was a 15.7 (22 for the nutters) mile hike which started with a straight up from the Olchon Valley in Herefordshire, England
(calves/lungs/breathing ... challenged!) then along Offa's Dyke Path along the ridge before dropping down into the Vale of Ewyas in the Brecon Beacon National Park and also in Wales! What goes up steep comes down steep but at least at the bottom we got to stop at the Llanthony Priory (a ruinous little number) and ... the pub! A pub is always dangerous as you stop mid hike for 45 minutes, have a relax and find you can barely walk post lunch break. We had been lucky with the morning, but the afternoon session which was hiking back up the valley until we could swing back over the ridge to the English side was lovely until about the last hour when it decided to rain as well. A first for me on hiking trips was being in bed asleep at 11pm and not waking until woken at 8am the next day ... I couldn't even finish my wine (shock!). I was officially knackered by that hike!
Thank god Sunday was to be a much more relaxed pace before the drive back to London along the lowest and most gentle part of Offa's Dyke. No major up hills, just a
gentle 6 miles to the pub and back. Can anyone say Bollocks!! Admittedly there were no steep uphills, just a couple of miles of gradual upward walking into a severe headwind, followed by down still with a severe headwind ... distance to the halfway pub ... 6 miles. Distance back ... unknown, however a snap poll put it at about 4 or so miles, so the '6' was probably more a '10' mile in total. Lucky it was a beautiful walk through country lanes, woodland (bluebells!) and lush green spring fields, there was even a few babbling brooks thrown in to mix things up a bit, but for the record being knackered makes it harder to enjoy!!
Will take me a couple of days to recover, just in time to bugger off back to North Wales again this weekend to do more walking! Snowdonia here we come and we will not be leaving until you are defeated (and have offered up your reward of bacon and apple pancakes ... but more on that next week!).
ps. if ever staying in Kington you have to go to Ye Olde Tavern
which has the friendliest landlady in the world
... this pub rocks, but ask for lager at your peril!
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