|Offa's Dyke - South|
By Mark Walford
Date: Friday September 4th 2009
The is a long distance footpath opened in 1971, running the length of the English\Welsh border for 177 miles from Chepstow in the south to Prestatyn in the north. It partly follows the line of an ancient earthworks built as a defence against Welsh incursions by King Offa of Mercia in the eighth century.
We intend to tackle the walk in three parts:
Part 1 - Chepstow to Knighton 80 Miles September 2009
Part 2 - Knighton to Brompton 15 Miles May 2010
Part 3 - Brompton to Prestatyn 82 Miles September 2010
Why did we choose this route? Well partly because it happens to be in one of our favourite parts of the UK, partly because my Brother Colin is lucky enough to live within a stone's throw of the southern reaches of the walk and we could all crash at his cottage, (which leads nicely on to) a saving of a wad of cash.
Four of us got together to plan the trip, myself, my brother Colin, my cousin Jo, and Bod, the latter being an honorary member of the Walford clan.
Men in Black in Ross ....
After a last final and harassing morning at work I finally escaped the office, called into the house to grab my belongings, and headed off to pick up Cousin Jo. He emerged from his house with a medium sized rucksack slung across one shoulder. I had the tailgate open ready for all his gear to be stowed. He threw the pack in and went to get into the car.
"Where's the rest?" I enquired.
"That's it," he replied. I had four bags, a laptop, all my walking gear, and assorted camera and video cases and I still felt ill prepared. Jo had packed his whole week into something the size of a Tesco shopping bag. One of us had got our logistics wrong.
The day was fair and the traffic light so we made the trip from Birmingham to Ross-On-Wye in less than an hour, arriving at Brock Cottage to find Colin waiting for us with an anticipatory grin on his face.
"Bod's arrived in Ross," he informed us, "and wants to know when we can go for a beer."
Bod was supposed to have shared a B&B with another friend planning to do the walk with us
but unforeseen circumstances found him having to stay in Ross on his own for the week.
I unpacked the camera and spent a dubious few minutes filming Colin's bare feet, all unblemished and pristine, intending to do a 'before and after' comparison after a week's walking. Thankfully for all concerned I forgot to do the 'after' video.
We met Bod at the Man Of Ross pub, had a few beers, shared a few opinions about the walk ahead, stocked up on groceries in a local supermarket with all the self consciousness of four blokes wheeling a single shopping trolley about, and made it to the White Lion in time for an evening meal by the banks of the Wye.
The beer garden was full of shaven headed men in black suits, as if some male only funeral had taken place, or a Men In Black convention was being held in Ross. They were rowdy but not intrusive, and seemed to be preparing to head off someplace else. We soon picked up the unmistakeable twang of the Brummie as they sang and chatted and lapsed into football
songs. Not only were they from Birmingham but they were from my area of Birmingham. I'd travelled over seventy miles to share dinner with neighbours. Eventually they left the Lion, heading over the bridge and into town in a long drawn out and drunken line.
We all decided that an early night was in order and we drove to Brock Cottage and were tucked up in bed before News At Ten had reached the 'and finally' item.