Saturday, July 16, 2016


Joined By a Couple of British Walkers on Top of Offa's Dyke

In the previous posting regarding my walk last summer of about 80% of the Offa's Dyke Path, a U.K. National Trail, I covered the stretch between Chepstow and Hay-on-Wye.  In this posting, I will cover the remainder of my walk, specifically, the section between Hay-on-Wye and Llangollen.

Day 5:  Hay-on-Wye to Kington

Leaving Hay-on-Wye Along the West Bank of River Wye

Continuing Along a Farm Track

Wild foxglove is everywhere . . .

. . . as are profusions of bluebells.

There are periodic markers along the path, 
but many are hidden in beautiful but overgrown foliage.

A small farm road, bordered by beautiful wildflowers, 
leads into a shaded tunnel through lovely woods.

 Sheep greeting me at a peaceful country homestead . . . 

. . . and more wildflowers on the verge of the path . . .

I met these three Brits along the way 
and hiked with them a couple of days.  Great people!

Walking through and abandoned farmstead . . .

When the path runs adjacent to someone's farm 
or home, one frequently sees offerings like these.

My British friends on the dyke . . .

Another section where the path is actually on top of the ancient dyke . . .

Chatting with an American hiker who was 
on the return leg of a round-trip walk of Offas's Dyke Path 
(round-trip would be 354 miles,
 not counting the necessary diversions to reach accommodations)

A pleasant climb to the left of the dyke, now covered with trees . . .

Day 6: Kington to Knighton

The Offa's Dyke Path weaves back and forth
across the Wales-England border for most of the distance.

A stile with sign announcing entry into the 
Shropshire Hills, some of the most challenging terrain is the entire walk . . .

As I entered the Shropshire Hills, it occurred to me that the only reference point I had for this region of the country was A.E. Houseman's collection of poems, A Shropshire Lad, which many of us read in high school or college.  The collection has many memorable passages — remember "When I was one-and-twenty/I heard a wise man say/Give crowns and pounds and guineas/But not your heart away . . ." — but, for some reason, possibly a lifelong inclination to embrace reality for what it is, I have carried these Houseman lines around in my head for more than four decades:

                                         Stars, I have seen them fall,
                                         But when they drop and die
                                         No star is lost at all
                                         From all the star-sown sky.
                                         The toil of all that be
                                         Helps not the primal fault;
                                         It rains into the sea
                                         And still the sea is salt.

This was a rainy day and the climbing was steeper than it looks in this photo.

For the remainder of this day's hike, 
generally regarded as the toughest section of
terrain to be traversed on the Offa's Dyke Path,
 it was one up and down after another,
much of it with grades like those seen by the goats
 on the upper part of this hill.  As a result, 
I have very few photos from this day.  
This was a rainy, hard day in which every ounce of energy was 
required to get to my destination before dark, and I barely made it.

Day 7: Knighton to Cwm

This day started with some welcome shade 
and flatter terrain on top of the dyke in a wooded area.

Colorful fields opened up . . .

. . . and I met a couple of other Brits who were doing
a series of section hikes on Offa's Dyke, hoping to complete it in one year.

It was a pleasant day of hiking through pastures . . .

. . . and the patchwork fields that are so inviting throughout the U.K.

Day 8:  Cwm to Buttington

This day, which was the most relaxing day 
of the trip, began with the path following the lovely Montgomery Canal.

House and lock on the canal . . .

For long-distance walkers, few things are appreciated more than
coming upon a pleasant area where an adjacent property owner has
kindly set out chairs and homemake cookies and cakes for weary travelers.

I remember the wildflowers, trees, and shrubs
 being especially beautiful in this area of the path.

Barn and Tranquil Waters Along the Canal

Canal Path with Nesting Baby Swans on Left

Approaching a canal lock . . .

. . . walking beneath the overhead bridge . . .

. . . to discover this stunningly beautiful setting for a house . . .

One of the many bridges over the canal and path . . .

Days 9 and 10:  Buttington to LLangollen

This day began with a lovely walk through magical woods . . .

. . . then entering a supremely beautiful area
 in which the path was marked by stacked stones on each side . . .

All seemed to be going extremely well . . .

. . . until shortly after this photo, when I encountered four bulls.  After much patience, I successfully got beyond these bulls, only to find a giant longhorn bull in the next pasture, together with a large sign warning walkers that the bull was dangerous.  After spending about fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to get safely by the longhorn, a Welsh couple joined me and, together (hoping there was strength in numbers), we made it successfully to the other side of the pasture.  
After that experience, it was . . .

. . . a great relief to reach the LLangollen Canal
 and the pleasure boats traversing its waters.

My Welsh friends are ahead on the canal 
viaduct (boats go through here), which is high above . . .

. . . this river.

My Welsh friends near the end of our walk together . . . 

Last photo before I took before entering 
the town of LLangollen, Wales, where I completed my walk.


  1. Nice for you to have some company for a while, George. Those latter lowland sections are gorgeous. I do know Llangollen, and have walked a little along the canal - including crossing that viaduct.

    1. Thanks, Robert. Believe me, those tranquil lower sections of the walk were a welcome reward. The Shropshire Hills landed a few blows on my body, and I was happy to just take my time along the towpaths of those lovely canals near Llangollen.

  2. Grand photos that make me wish I was there too. I know bits and pieces of the trail but have never completed the whole thing. Maybe one day.....

    1. Thanks for stopping by, John. Hope you get to do some more walking on the Offa's Dyke path. As I indicated in my reply to Robert's comments, the portions along the canal near Llangollen are very peaceful and stunningly beautiful.

  3. George - I am no longer mobile enough to do the walk but your exquisite pictures have taken me on it - so thank you for that. And thank you also for the Housman quote; the Shropshire Lad is one of my all time favourites.

    1. Thanks, Pat. Glad you could join me visually on the walk. Also glad you enjoyed the Houseman lines; they are among my favorite — and there are many — from "A Shropshire Lad."

  4. Oh dear, the bulls ... I hope you did not think of Housman's first few lines then, pertaining to yourself. So glad you made it through.

    The scenes you share go straight in to the soul. How lovely to meet friends on the path. Just wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Ruth. As for the bulls, "all's well that ends well." Glad you liked the photos, and, as I know you intuitively understand, meeting strangers and having short encounters with them is one of the supreme pleasures of travel.

  5. I like all the paths you traveled, from dirt roads to barely seen trails through high grasses. Was you hike a metaphor for life? ;) Thank goodness you navigated the bulls safely - not pleasant, I'm sure.

    1. Thanks so much, Barb. Yes, yes, yes — all of my hiking is a metaphor for life! That's a major reason for doing it. As you can appreciate, life is full of dangerous bulls, slippery rocks, dark and fearsome woods, and paths that often seem to disappear. It's also full of ineffable beauty, much of which is unveiled in the least expected moment and the least expected place. Learning how to hike well is learning how to live well. It's as simple as that. I think you would agree.

  6. Great photos. That aquaduct is amazing, isn't it? I've been there a couple of times.

    My partner and I have taken our holiday in Wales twice a year for the last twenty years or so. We always go to Porthmadog and have often driven past some of the hills you've photographed on the way there.

    1. Thanks, Dominic! Yes, the aqueduct is amazing. Don't know Porthmadog, but most of what I seen in Wales is quite lovely. As for the walking, I was a bit surprised at some of the challenges. There were sections of the walk that were as challenging as any I had previously encountered.

  7. What an incredible experience, one beautiful scene after another ... just magical.

  8. Thanks, Teresa. It was a great trip!