While we could have walked across Pontcysyllte Aquaduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site, we decided to take the lower route. Canal tarmac and road seem to be a large part of this leg of the Dyke.
Very picturesque stretch of the canal opened up ahead and for the first time we get to a sign indicating that this is the start of an 88 mile stretch of Offa’s Dyke, built in the 8th century to keep the warring factions of Welsh and Anglo Saxons apart.
At Irish Bridge we start to climb subtly at first, quite a few ups and downs on the route.
Along the road we catch sight of Chirk Castle, built in 1295 and now run by the National Trust. The path takes you down to the castle following the permissive route, open April to October. A steep downhill follows, before reaching the oak tree at the so called Gate of the Dead – where Henry II’s troops were ambushed by the Men of Owain Gwynedd. Further along there are panels recounting the Battle of Crogen, and a plaque on the bridge at Castle Mill. We are now in the Ceiriog Valley and it gets steeper.
We can now understand the chap in the cafe who said “Don’t underestimate the Shropshire Hills”. Coupled with the gnarled roots along the Dyke, it slows us down somewhat.
At Oswestry Equestrian Centre we ran into a young lady from Nantes, walking the Dyke with her partner, they had already settled into their campsite for the night.
Quite a bit of road walking took us to Oswestry Race course and the remains of the grand stand. We let our imagination run away with us to the golden days of racing, to the point where Esther mounted the statue of a horse.
It was a welcome relief to enter into the cool of Candy Wood knowing we were fast approaching Trefonen.
The post office serves coffee, while the pub is the home of Offa’s Dyke Brewery. We just wanted home and showers!