Part 1 – Springhill Farm to Knighton
Part 2 – Dolley Green to Knighton
Frustration! The day started badly. Crawling out of bed at 6am I could hear the rain beating down against the bedroom window.
I threw my walking gear into the car. Two hours up the road it was still raining and the tyre check alarm on my car starts flashing. Nearest lay-by, I climb out to check if I had a flat, but all seemed OK. At the nearest garage, I get change for the air machine and get very wet. The light continues as does the rain. Another garage, another air stop, another dousing and I grumble obscenely! Hey, the light thing goes off, the sky clears and I arrive in Knighton two minutes behind schedule.
Esther is waiting for me, we scoff some strawberry tarts bought from my local Portuguese bakery . We have coffee and a wander in the Offa’s Dyke Centre before heading off to Springhill to start our walk.
We head down the track and onwards to Llanfair Hill. The Dyke stands proud and looks magnificent in the landscape.
We walk along the track beside the Dyke. The sky is a brilliant blue, reminding me of a poem by A E Housman – “How clear, how lovely bright…..” I always found his poetry depressing, so much death or dying, but I am revisiting and listening to an audio of The Shropshire Lad, a tokenism to the
English side of Offa’s masterpiece.
We meet a couple of Australians, they were cheerful enough, but warned us of the slippery slopes ahead. I didn’t have the heart to tell them of the switchbacks ahead of them travelling north.
Another couple came by, American this time, and made the same comments. By now, we were at the highest point of the Dyke at 430mtrs/ 1408 ft.
The landscape is dotted with sheep grazing, a few pines, we head down through the dingle over a footbridge, and up the slope, quite slippery following the rain, steep but not too taxing.
Contented looking sheep and cattle grazing, superb views across from Cwm Sanaham Hill. We stopped for lunch at a memorial cairn and seat looking down on the river Teme and Knighton, before descending into the valley below, crossing the railway line into Knighton, planting our feet on the dividing line between England and Wales and back to the Offa’s Dyke Centre – Part 1 of the walk complete.
You are probably wondering why we split the walk into separate halves. The weather was a key factor. Storm Bronagh was still bringing downpours, and uncertain weather. If we had to abandon then the shorter the distance between us and our cars the better.
Part 2 – car juggling -drive to Springhill, my sat nav found what seemed to be the narrowest road in Wales for the return journey to Knighton. The sky darkens and it pours. It is 3.30 in the afternoon. We leave one car at Knighton and head for Dolley Green (it would make such a great stage name). We ask a chap mowing a grass verge where best to leave the car, he suggest Ackhill Baptist Church parking area.
We soon set up the hill heading north back to Knighton. The late afternoon light casts long shadows – Esther talked to our friends, we were meant to be staying overnight, but as the weather was holding we knew it would be late when we came off the hills. It was agreed that to travel north after our walk didn’t make sense, we decided to look for somewhere to stay either at Knighton or further south!
We still had a spring in our step as we ventured up Furrow Hill, when the Dyke is clear again. Surrounded by amazing views of the Black mountains to the south, westward to Radnor Forest and north to the Kerry Hills.
Skirting a small forest to Hawthorn Hill, along farmland on either side of the Dyke. Passing the ostentatious monument to Sir Richard Green-Price who influenced the railway coming through these towns, until we reach the B4355 where sits a commemorative stone for the construction of the Dyke. Sadly, it has the wrong date on it!
Crossing the road, a few stiles and gates and we are back on the road again, quite fast moving traffic, we were pleased to reach the phone box and head down the lane to Rhos y meirch before going through a hodge Padgett of fields and woodland, before eventually coming out onto a housing estate in Knighton, making our way to the Offa’s Dyke Centre.
After phoning around a couple of B&Bs we eventually popped into the Horse and Jockey pub, where the staff were wonderful, the rooms cosy, the most amazing bed linen and comfortable beds with good hearty food. I can whole heartedly recommend. Ideal for tired, ailing walkers.