Date: 27 May 2014
Walked from: Llangollen, Wales
Walked to: Racecourse Common, England
Walked with: Annette, Stewart ‘with a W’, Peter and ‘Compeed’ Andrew
Distance: 15 miles
Stayed: Wynnstay Hotel, Oswestry
Weather: Dry, sunny, even hot for a bit!
Today started with me discovering I’d burn a hole in my bottom. Ok, not actually my arse, but the arse bit of my trousers. In future, if a heater says ‘do not cover’ on it, I may take more notice. Therefore the second thing that happened today was I went to the outdoor shop and bought myself a new pair of walking trousers…
Met up with the rest of today’s walking gang at 9.15am on the bridge and spent the next half an hour walking back up hill to the Offa’s Dyke route, under the watchful eye of the mystical and brooding looking Castell Dinas Bran.
Today’s two-footed adventure was another great one, which included the luminous green dankness of Trevor Hall Wood, the fantastic Telford-constructed 126ft high Pontcysyllte Aquaduct (completed 1805) and pretty 14th century Chirk Castle – where we lunched in the grounds, enjoying the sunshine on our faces and watching small children whizz by on National Trust rental segways. The walk back down the hill from the castle also involved our first actual rendezvous with Offa’s Dyke itself. The purpose of the Dyke seems much debated but historians largely seem to agree it was built by a king in 800AD (or so) as a type of defensive wall. Essentially it’s a heap of earth that goes on for a long way. And whatever its purpose originally and the look it’s working now, it’s certainly a good excuse for a 180 mile-long walk along the English-Welsh borders. Having finally met the subject of our walk we spent the next few hours walking along or besides it, generally in an uphill direction that was hotter and sweatier than our currently rain-drenched friends in the south of England would ever believe!
Annette and I bailed on Stewart and Peter at Racecourse Common (last race there was in the mid 1800s, so you’ve missed the boat if you were planning on placing a bet), sharing a taxi into town with Andrew. They were both such nice and interesting chaps, but they finish the walk two days before I do so that’s the last I’ll see of them sadly. Perhaps the next time I’m in Penrith I’ll look them up; they were excellent walking companions and their mutual love of walking and Stewart’s seemingly limitless knowledge of the great outdoors and the flora and fauna that fills it really added to our trip over the last couple of days.
Annette and I finished up our day in our ‘treat’ hotel, which had a sauna, jacuzzi and swimming pool. The jacuzzi was, quite possibly, the best thing ever. That and the ten tonnes of carbonara I had for dinner tonight. Next stop: sleep and then a 16 miler tomorrow.