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.

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