|Offa's Dyke - South|
By Mark Walford|
There's no doubt about it, time really does fly. It's already a month on from the walk and yet I barely seem to have unpacked. I have few physical reminders of the week - a couple of toenails have turned a Gothic black and every so often my dodgy knee will twinge, evoking fond memories of cheeky gradients hidden beyond a stile. But I do have the pictures, my memories, and this set of scribblings. As predicted I missed the discomfort and exertion as soon as I put a business suit back on and became a Project Manager again. I have a new screen saver on my laptop, a view down the sublime valley of Radnor, taken as we descended from Bradnor hill, and I have spent many moments staring at it wistfully as phones ring and keyboards rattle all around me.
As a route I cannot recommend Offa's Dyke enough. It has everything you need really, mouth-watering scenery, well defined footpaths, friendly hospitality, gaunt ruins (the buildings - not us) and of course hills. My abiding memory is the amount of 'upping and downing' (as my younger daughter would say when she was small) required. It didn't detract from the experience one bit though; without all that climbing the views would have been the poorer. It isn't a particularly arduous trail, nowhere near as demanding as, say, the Kintyre Way and most averagely fit people will cope with this. Youthful super fit folks like Loves Young Dream will scarcely notice it, and there are those, like a certain octogenarian Aussie, who will always show by example that anybody can do it. Just grab a pack, pull on those boots, and walk.
As for next year, well I can't wait of course. I'll be back for part two of Offa's Dyke, swearing at the pointless climbing of pointless hills, forcing my soft city feet into outdoor shoes, suffering the inevitable blisters, chafing, and knotted leg muscles that will serve to point out that I really need to be fitter and probably conclude with me doing nothing about it.
Oh and of course I'll be at the rear end of a line of four, with a Strider, an Ambler and a Rambler ahead of me. But I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, when the day is done and the beer is ordered and we rest tired bodies the miles walked are the same for all of us but, more importantly, are happily shared.