Coed Llangwyfan to Clwyd Gate, Offa’s Dyke – Day 5

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A bright, sunny day and we continue onwards. In Scotland we collect Monroes in the Clwydian Range it is all about the Moel.

Moel Arthur at 1496 feet is the first challenge. Turning right from the car park, you reach a sign to the left taking you through to the start of the ascent. Clear signposting up the slope, with some magnificent views across to Snowdonia. We stopped to talk to a group of archaeologist investigating an area of ground near the path.

As soon as you are up and topping out, you head down towards a small car park. Crossing through the car park you start the next slog uphill. Looking back at Moel Arthur you can clearly see the scale of the hillfort. Onwards we go to Moel Famau ( Mothers’ Mountain) at 1820 feet the highest hill on the range, passing through Moel Llys y Coed and Moel Dywyll.

We are amazed by the views across the Vale of Clwyd on such a clear day.

Every time we approached a hill that was close to a car park, it became very busy with people. We had several conversations en route, Australians, French, some locals and as it was the start of the school holidays quite a few Brits. As we plodded uphill, a young woman can be seen fast approaching below – I could not believe she was running up the mountain in the heat.

The rather ugly Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau was teeming with people.

We dropped down to the car park at Bwlch Penbarra, before tackling the steepest slope – Foel Fenlli at 1676 ft. I reverted to my 50 steps, stop, deep breath and continue with 100 steps. The technique worked and we swiftly reached the top.

A steep descent to a conifer forest, across a field following a fence, then up one side of the field eventually looking down at a farmhouse. Slightly relieved, we start the home run down to Clwyd Gate, so called as it used to be a toll road.

This is a pretty strenuous section, but the views make it all worthwhile.

Bodfari to coed Llanwyfan, Offa’s Dyke – Day 4

We positioned our cars early morning, one in Bodfari and the other at Clwyd Gate.

Over the footbridge on the river Wheeler we go, following the path to house with a red post box in front, heading up through the bracken until you reach a height, giving a clear view of Bodfari and its white church.

You can’t escape the radio mast on Moel y Parc as you follow a stoney track uphill, going past an atmospheric barn nestling below. The path takes us to a gateway by a small pull in big enough for a few cars to park. The next sign is a bit ambiguous. Just don’t follow the sign for Clifford byway or you will have to make your way back up to the gate. Go through the gate and head uphill and you are soon out on open moorland. The heather and gorse is beginning to bloom, and I have never seen so many bilberry clumps, although some of the plants are already turning a burnished red from the hot early summer.

You top out at 1442 feet at Pen y Cloddiau, an Iron Age fort, before starting your descent, eventually reaching Coed Llangwyfan on our right.
The Clwydian hills were covered in mist by now, with the first drops of rain in weeks. We togged up in our wet weather gear, before exiting the trees at the car park.

The downpour put paid to our walking for the day, which meant that we were miles away from our cars. The plan was to walk in Llandyrnog and ring for a taxi.
Half way down the road, a light blue jaguar stops, and the driver recognised us from walking the path. We felt guilty dripping all over the car’s cream interior, but not so guilty as to refuse a lift.

Having been dropped at the junction to Bodfari, we were quickly offered another lift by a young woman with a soft Scottish accent, who also enjoyed walking Wales’s paths. It was still raining when we reached the car, and the visibility at Clwyd Gate was limited. We congratulated ourselves on a decision well made, settling down to watch Wimbledon tennis for the afternoon.

Prestatyn to Bodfari, Offa’s Dyke – Day 3

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We parked one car in Bodfari before making our way to Prestatyn and the car park next to the Nova Centre. Posing for pictures at the start/finish sculpture, a much more notable landmark than the squat stone which dignifies the start/finish point in South Wales.

The distance marker here says the trail is 182 miles to Chepstow. In Sedbury Cliffs, the South Wales starting point states 168 miles. Pick a number!
We window shop along Prestatyn High Street, continuing steadily uphill following the signs.

While we posed to take in the sculpture of a Roman Helmet, and taking our guide book out to check the route, a helpful lady stopped the car and pointed us in the right direction. We love fellow walking enthusiasts.

Across the Bryn Prestatyn Hillside, through bracken and gorse opening up with great views down to Meliden and Prestatyn, eventually through farmland.
A small ruin of a two bedroom cottage called Pant y Fachwen provides a perfect stop for a break. It is hard to believe that 9
children and their parents used to live here in the late 19th century.

Later on we reached an old water mill, and once again were reminded of the busy wooden industry that flourished here.
We reached Rhuallt in a good time, eating our lunch on a bench, we followed the sign uphill out of the village, missing a sign on the right hand side taking us in a slantwise direction.

After half an hour and no recognisable signs, a steep hill we saw a road sign for Disserth and realised we were well off the Offa’s Dyke. Esther sweet talked a van driver to take us back down the hill and we were on our way. The right direction following a footbridge over the A55. We met a gentleman near Cefn Du Hill who was walking his dog, doffing his hat to us, we got into conversation. He had known Esther’s father, and falling into step he led us over the hill and down to the next intersection. Wetold us a number of stories about the residents around the path, which added a bit of zest to our walk. We were sorry to see him go.

This early summer of 2018 has been the driest and hottest in years, and parts of the walk is just scorched earth, looking more like the Australian outback than Wales.

We head through the little hamlet of Sodom, yes Sodom, no spelling error! It doesn’t take long before we are walking downhill, alongside woodland of pine and oak, starting the descent into Bodfari, reaching the road at The Downing Arms where the car is parked.
A great start to the North Wales section of Offa’s Dyke.

Bigsweir Bridge to Monmouth, Offa’s Dyke – day 2

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The path is signposted off the bridge. The road goes uphill quite quickly, as we walked a gentleman stopped in his car to warn us to walk with the traffic as there were a couple of deadly bends up ahead which restricts the driver’s view, so much for following the Highway Code!

We were quickly left into a field leading into the woods. Confronted with the path in front travelling along the joining point we were confused as to which direction to turn, but a finger post some 10 yards to the right pointed the way, we eventually decided that our way of travel was through the Woodland Trust gateway and not up the lane.

Quite a few ups and downs through field and Highbury woods, and then the long, steep descent into the village of Redbrook. We sat in the park and found it hard to imagine that this pretty sleepy village used to be a centre for the tinplate and copper smelting works, with all the horrible smells and pollution attached to those industries. In addition, there was a papermill,cornmill, brewery, trams and railroad and busy river traffic taking products to market.
The path heads up at an angle from the main road beyond the car park, clearly marked up the restricted byway to the bridge that used for the Monmouth tramway, passing the cottages, then cross the road and follow the signs, a long trek uphill as far as the stables. We were sweltering in the heat, dripping with sweat.
A woman driving down the hill stopped to chat. She said the lane ahead was very dusty and exposed to the sunbut we would get a bit of a breeze when we had reached the top and a barn. She was right!

By now we had drunk most of our water bottles dry! Only one left to last the journey.

The Woodland leading to the Kymin was cool and inviting, we spent a bit of time here, reading the apt words hanging on red panels from the trees.
The Kymin roundhouse was built by the Monmouth Picnic Club and the Naval Temple was built to celebrate the battle of the Nike. Today under the guardianship of the National Trust.

A splendid view of Monmouth from here.

Our descent into Monmouth starts from here, follow the pathway, reaching the end of the lane ignore the footpath signs to your right and the private property signs. You need to turn right into a field, leading you down to a very pleasant woodland walk.
Straightforward descent from here into Monmouth. We popped in for a drink at the Mayhill Hotel, and got chatting to the friendly host. They not only cater for walkers but also for cyclists, as they have a bike lock up. All the rooms were newly furnished. The thought of staying in friendly pubs as we move away from home put a smile on my weary face

Sudbury to Bigsweir Bridge, Offa’s Dyke – Day 1

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I couldn’t decide between Nancy Sinatra “These Boots were made for Walking” or ABBA’s “Mama mia here we go again”, while driving towards the Wye Valley and the start of Offa’s Dyke Walk.

Built by King Offa, around 780 to 790AD in response to some savage raids by the Welsh. It straddles the border between England and Wales, and is today regarded as one of the premier long distance paths in Britain.

The path is 177 miles or 285Km long it runs from Sedbury, near Chepstow in the South to Prestatyn in North Wales. We are going to enjoy it in easy stages
Thanks to an eight year old blog by a group of fossilers, which pinpointed a lay-by on Beachley Road, Sedbury as a suitable parking place, and following a bit of a runaround by my satnav in tracking down Bigsweir Bridge outside Llandogo, we did have our cars parked up by 10am and were ready to set off on the first stretch of Offa’s Dyke.

Rhonda,Huw, Esther and I set off from the rather unassuming marker stone at the beginning of the path, the signs with its acorn trademark are relatively easy to follow, Huw takes the lead armed with the map.

It gets quite suburban quite quickly, not particularly gripping, but there is a pleasant view near Woodbridge House, down towards Chepstow Castle and the old cast iron bridge linking Wales and England.

Feeling a bit hemmed in by the high fences and walls we get to quite a steep incline reaching a tarmac path, we didn’t turn left for Chepstow, but headed up hill.

The key highlights from this point onwards was the view down to Wye valley gorge, much of the outlook is obliterated from sight due to the summer foliage. Admiring the large houses with their manicured gardens en route while Huw led the way, the meadows are a golden yellow, the ground is tinder dry, we are grateful for the shade of the trees. The woodlands before and after Devil’s Pulpit makes you think Hobbit and fairytales.

From Devil’s Pulpit, so called because it was thought that the Devil preached from this spot, to try and lead the Cistercian monks in the valley below astray.
Magnificent view from here of Tintern Abbey and very busy spot for walkers to congregate.

We mused over a pile of loose change on a tree stump nearby.

Then followed a random meeting and conversation with a woman who was in a dilemma as to whether to buy a futon or a sofa bed. We voted for the sofa bed, and thankfully her daughter agreed.

Chuckling we moved on, descending to the pretty village of Brockweir and a shandy in the pub. We had decided on the lower route along the river, and it was worth it for the reflections in the Wye. The whole world turned upside down, or so it seemed.

The canoeists seemed a lot cooler than we did as temperatures reached 30C. The horseflies which had been an irritant all day latched onto us now with a vengeance as we trudged to Bigsweir Bridge to pick up the car.