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David's Offa's Dyke Story: Chapter One - Keep on Walking!
4 Min Read
02 February 2024
David's Offa's Dyke Story: Chapter One - Keep on Walking!

David’s been travelling with us since 2019 and has completed a whopping 11 of our trips during that time! He loves to take on our long-distance adventures - from the Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Full Italian Via Francigena to St Cuthbert’s Way and the full Camino St Jean to Santiago – he's done them all! David’s latest trip took him from North to South Wales along the Offa’s Dyke trail. As his adventure was bursting at the seams with experiences, we’ve split his story into four inspiring chapters – each one focussing on a different theme. This is chapter one – where he tells us about the people he met along the route and some wisdom he received from a fellow 86-year-old walker...

Solo Walking – But Not Really

Apart from a few days of rain the weather was very kind to me. I loved the incredible range of landscapes I walked through on my journey. The official distance is 177 miles but with detours en-route I actually walked 235 miles. As always on my solo long-distance walking adventures, I met lots of lovely people, most who were walking sections of the trail, a few who were doing the whole trail like me, and locals. I loved every step on this magnificent trail.

‘Cymru’, the Welsh name for Wales also translates to ‘friends’ or ‘fellow countrymen’, which seems fitting for this trip. Along the route, I met adventurers from different walks of life. Some I met fleetingly, others I spent hours and even days walking with. All special moments of company peppered throughout my solo adventure.

Offa's Dyke

Wise Words

My journey started quietly, with only a couple of passers-by breaking up the solitude. But after a quiet first day, day two introduced me to David and Christina from nearby Cefyn-y-Bedd on their morning walk. At 86 David gave me some advice as a young 70-year-old. “Keep on walking!" he told me. Later that day I crossed paths with Liam from Connecticut, USA, a fellow solo traveller who shared that he was camping along his south-to-north Offa's Dyke journey. No camping with Macs Adventure! Only warm, welcoming and locally run establishments to rest my tired legs at the end of each day.

On day three I stumbled upon John, Tony and Terry from Merseyside at Moel Famau or ‘the Mother Mountain’. Standing 555 metres tall (1,820 feet), it’s crowned with the Jubilee Tower, built in 1810 to mark the jubilee of King George III. The trio had been walking together for 23 years as part of a walking group. Tony, 81, gave me the same advice as David. “Keep on walking”! Of course, it’s what Lynne said to me before she passed away. So naturally I took their advice and did just that.

David Offa's Dyke

All Walks of Life

I was also fortunate to meet Siobahn from the nearby village of Treuddyn who was out on the trails for the day. We chatted for ages about the local area and our shared love of walking. She told me all about how she’s a member of a local rambling group and how the leader of this group has developed a new pilgrimage trail across North Wales which will impressively be starring on the BBC’s ‘Pilgrimage’ documentary!

Along my journey from Llandegla to Llangollen, as I was walking through some extensive moorland, I came across three groups of students from Rydal School in Colwyn Bay - they were doing their Duke of Edinburgh silver award - such a lovely group of positive young people. That same day I chatted with Sian and Rob from Brecon who had used Macs Adventure when they did the Pennine Way. Then there was David from Birmingham walking Offa’s Dyke south to north. He was raising funds for a charity he supports in South Africa. See what I mean? All walks of life!

Conversation and Camaraderie Just before I arrived in Welshpool, I chatted to Brendan from Peterborough. He’d already cycled and camped for 62 days from London following all the famous canals in England and Wales. When I met him, he still had seven weeks of travelling left. Quite a feat!

At the top of the steep hill to Beacon Ring Iron Age fort, I was able to stamp my Offa’s Dyke passport, and it was there where I met Lee – the gamekeeper to the Leighton Estate where the Beacon Rig fort is located. Shortly after I bumped into John, a local dairy farmer who told me about his farming life and how his father sent him to Glasgow on the train on his own when he was 13, to look after their prize cows at a big agricultural show.

After 8.5 hours of walking on day eight and a very steep climb up Llanymynech Hill, I began to feel quite tired. But just a few miles from my destination, on the forest-covered ridge, I suddenly came across Brenda and Dawn. They were like angels appearing in a mirage! They were doing Offa’s Dyke in stages but that afternoon they were walking a circular from Llanymynech. Turned out they were also staying in the same hotel as me. Energised with conversation and company I suddenly felt a bounce in my step and before I knew it, we’d arrived at our hotel.

David Offa's Dyke

Walking Buddies

On day 12 I met Craig from North Carolina. He’d just arrived, and we became walking buddies for the next three days. We walked over the stunning Hergest Ridge, admired the exteriors of the churches in the villages of Gladestry and Newchurch and wandered through wonderful forests. Craig said how it reminded him of home in North Carolina - except here there were no black bears or coyotes! At the end of day 14, I wished my fellow hiker farewell as his taxi arrived to take him to his B&B further down the valley.

Two days later when walking from Bigsweir Bridge to Tintern, I met and chatted with Jon and Fyn from near Stansted. The father and son duo were just embarking on their ‘south to north’ Offa’s Dyke adventure. They were sure to make some special memories!

When entering Chepstow on my last day, I was so happy to reach my final destination on this epic national trail. I had a lovely conversation with locals Elaine and Ivor. Ivor reminisced about watching a torchlit procession from below the stone ramparts of Chepstow Castle, the very spot we were standing on. It marked the end of WWII in 1945 and the end of the national black-out! As I entered my overnight accommodation -The Coach and Horses - I met Leuan and Jodi where I bought them a drink plus my own to celebrate my completion of the Offa’s Dyke Path!

If you’re planning a solo trip, I encourage you to talk to fellow walkers and passersby you meet along the way. I’m lucky to have bumped into a whole array of interesting people. You’ll find they're almost always glad to pause for a chat. How did you find walking in the downpour? Wasn’t that view spectacular? It’s nice to exchange thoughts and feelings about shared experiences. The friendly interactions break up the day and you may even find you have some company for a while.

Kirsty Schneider

Written by

Kirsty Schneider
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