Mellington Hall to Springhill Farm, Offa’s Dyke – Day 14

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Walk to Knighton aborted due to Storm Ali. Cross winds battered us as we walked, possibly the toughest walk to date, we called it a day at Springhill Farm and took the road to Clun.

It started off as a bright day, three hour drive got me to Mellington Hall by 9.15am. The general manager at the hotel was friendliness personified as I changed into my boots in front of a roaring fire.

She was surprised that we were intent on walking in the gale force winds. She even gave her card, with strict instructions to call if we got into difficulty. The staff here have been super, even though we have not stayed at the hotel.

Esther and Alex arrived and we set off sharply, heading through Mellington Woods, the wind howling through the trees.
We met a lone walker, who expressed surprise that we were going to attempt to get as far as Knighton. “Toughest stretch, worst of weathers” was his cryptic comment.

I did wonder at this stage whether we had made a wise decision.

Out of the woods and onto a roadway, gradually heading upwards towards the Kerry Ridgeway, before we were out on the series of steep ascents and descents called The Switchback, noted in most blogs and guidebooks as the toughest challenge on the path!

Most of the walk is through undulating fields, frequently on the Dyke, I spare a thought for the workforce who had toiled away at this earthwork, still here some 1200 years later.

We come across a dying sheep, Esther and Alex dash back to the nearest house, only to find that a walker has already called in, and the farmer had been informed. I stayed talking quietly to the sheep, it tried to lift its head, looking at me piteously.

We moved on hoping the farmer would come along soon, and put the poor animal out of its misery. Some miles later we saw another sheep carcass, the birds and other animals had fed well on the poor beast.

Having huffed and puffed my way up several ups and downs, I was glad to get to Churchtown and the pretty setting of St John the Baptist. We popped inside to get a respite from the wind. A simple church, with a number of religious tracts on the walls, a quiet interlude before another tussle with the elements.

On our way, a steep climb awaits and it is raining. Heads bowed, we eventually reach Hergan at 408m/1340 ft.
We follow a line of trees, then down some 120 steps. A short “dog leg” turn on a road near a cottage, crossing a footbridge over a stream, we head up hill.

The path narrows above Bridge Farm and Pond – we stop for lunch. All were glad of a break. As well as highs and lows, we had also clambered over loads of styles.

We met a group of women walkers who had come from Knighton, and to,d us it had taken them six hours to get to this point. The three of us looked at each other and we all knew at that stage we wouldn’t get to Knighton today.

They told us that the half way point wasn’t far ahead, but there was a very steep descent ahead. I groaned loudly…..

A quick con-flab after the ladies had departed and we decided to get onto the road at Springhill Farm and then walk to Clun. A quick call by Alex to her husband to pick us up in Clun rather than Knighton and we scrambled down another hill.

We stopped to take a picture of the half way marker, although from our point of view having walked from Sedbury to Hay on Wye already, the sign was meaningless in terms of our journey.

Storm Ali you defeated us….


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