Offa's Dyke Path 2002

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 3 - Kington to Buttington

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Day 5 - Sunday 7th July - Kington to Knighton

Distance: 13.5 miles, Ascent: 2,500 ft

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Only a mound remains of the dyke here but there is a marvellous view of the valley and hills beyond
Dyke at Rushock Hill
Looking back to Herrock Hill from Evenjob Hill
Herrock Hill from Evenjob Hill
A fine view of the hills to the west from just beyond Pen Offa
West from Pen Offa

After breakfast at 8.15 a.m., I went into town to buy things for lunch and to send off some postcards. It was 9.40 as I set off along the path out of town, across the bypass and up a steady climb to the golf course. It would have been a good view had it not been for the dreary weather, although it at least was not raining. A pleasant walk over Rushock to Hill revealed distant views across to the hills of the West Midlands with, I think, the Wrekin near Telford clearly visible. The path follows a section of the dyke around the edges of a field leading to a marvellous view to the southwest near Herrock Hill looking across at the Hergest Ridge. The Dyke runs up near the summitHerrock Hill itself obviously formed part of the defence line but the path takes an easier route down the side of the hill to the valley rather than going over the summit, which would probably have provided a good viewpoint.

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A deep ditch and high mound are still in evidence here
Dyke near Yew Tree Farm
A fine view over Whitton and the Lugg Valley
Whitton from Furrow Hill
Knighton town centre, nearly half-way to the end of the path
Clock Tower, Knighton

I stopped at Ditchyeld Bridge for a rest and a snack in light drizzle, although there were a few patches of blue in the sky. Ian and his friend were a little way ahead but I could see no sign of any of the others as yet. The path runs at an angle up Evenjob Hill following a well-preserved section of earthworks with fine views back to Herrock Hill and the hills to the west. Over Pen Offa views to the east opened up - one distant hill had white domes on the top, presumably housing a radar station. I stopped for lunch a little further on with a view across the Lugg Valley to Furrow Hill, the next part of the walk. On the descent to the river there were again some well-preserved sections of dyke with a deep ditch and earth mound still evident. As the path ascends Furrow Hill it again revealed lovely views to the west with the sun starting to shine making them look much better. The dyke, however, is far less evident here, being only a slightly raised mound of earth with little evidence of ditches. An easy walk brought me down into Knighton by 5 p.m. and I found my B&B down near the river where Alan had already pitched his tent in the front garden as there was no camp site around.

After a pot of tea and a shower, I took advantage of the warm evening sunshine to wash out a few things and hang them outside, hoping that they would dry by the morning. The day's walk had been a very pleasant one with lots of good viewpoints and fine walking country. It also helped that my feet had been a lot better with the extra support under my arches and two shorter days of walking had also helped on that score.

After wandering around town, which as well as being nearly at the middle of Offa's Dyke Path is also the start of the Owain Glyndwr Way, I went to the Horse and Jockey where I sat outside to have a few drinks and a meal in the pleasant evening sunshine. I kept an eye out for other walkers but none came past, so I eventually made my way back to the town centre where I met Alan and Charles by the telephone box. Charles was going for a drink in the George and Dragon, so I joined him for a pint before returning to my bed. My washing was still soaking wet, so I took it inside and hung it over a cold radiator.

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Day 6 - Monday 8th July - Knighton to Brompton Crossroads

Distance: 15.5 miles, Ascent: 3,750 ft

I had a good breakfast at 8 a.m. and changed into some of the things I had washed the night before which were still wet. Body heat is one of the best ways of drying them if you can put up with the discomfort to start with. Having completed the Offa's Dyke South book, it was a good opportunity, whilst I was in Knighton, to save a bit of weight by posting it back home and also to get some sandwiches for lunch. Knighton is home to the Offa's Dyke Centre and also has a commemorative stone near the earthworks by the river. The weather started off very dark with a few spots of rain, but soon brightened up with white clouds in a blue sky and a cool breeze - ideal walking weather.

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The path can be seen coming up the hillside
Knighton from Panpunton Hill
Looking westwards along the Teme Valley
West from Panpunton Hill

The steep climb up Panpunton Hill revealed a lovely view back overlooking Knighton, and the ridge further along gave more splendid views of the hills and valleys further west. I met Charles on the way up the hill. For a 76 year-old he was doing very well keeping up a steady plod without stopping so he still made good progress. I passed him on the climb but when I stopped further along the ridge to write a few notes in my diary he passed by making some comment about the hare and the tortoise. He was only doing a short stretch of about 8 miles to Newcastle, so he could take his time if he wanted to. I met him again on Cwm-sanaham Hill where he stopped to have something to eat. It was probably the last time I would see him as he would drop a day or two behind me for the rest of the way, so I stopped to have a good chat before bidding him farewell. His feelings about the walk so far were much the same as mine - he didn't like the first two days very much but was now enjoying it very much now that there was much better walking country with good views and more even ground underfoot.

The earthworks were visible for most of the route, sometimes with a high mound and deep ditch and sometimes more levelled out with the passage of time. Along by Llanfair Hill views to the east opened up and the country to both east and west was somewhat gentler with rolling hills for many miles in all directions. I stopped for a lunch break on the dyke itself which, at this point, is a little way to the east of the path. Offa's Dyke Path avoids the dyke itself to reduce erosion, which is a problem along this particular stretch. However, this is of no detriment, as there is a good view of the dyke from the side. My lunch consisted of a ham and cheese baguette, which was very good, followed by a square of something I was not quite sure of, but which I had bought a day or two earlier because it had the appearance of being very filling. It looked like a sort of shortbread with a chocolate filling and had the weight of a half brick. The filling turned out to be not chocolate, but a solid slab of figs. I struggled through it, not wanting to waste anything that I had carried so far, but afterwards wished I hadn't, as I felt quite queasy for a while and felt as if I had a lead weight in my stomach.

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Looking westwards along the Clun Valley
Newcastle from Craig Hill

There were some good views of the Clun Valley both from the descent into the valley and ascent up the other side with the dyke ever present close by. This is where Charles was staying for the night in the village of Newcastle. It was worrying to see the erosion to the dyke in places, some of it caused by rabbits and other burrowing mammals but in other places it looked more like the action of grazing cattle. It is difficult to protect against some forms of erosion, but it looks like more effort needs to be taken to protect sections where there are obvious signs of problems.

Although there was more exertion required today with undulating landscape, it was not excessive and was well rewarded by the lovely scenery and the impressive sections of earthworks. Along this stretch it is possible to enjoy both the dyke and the landscape at the same time. Towards the latter part of the day's walk, the scenery is less impressive, but still pleasant with the dyke ever present. There are some steep climbs which look very daunting but which, in reality, only take about five or ten minutes of exertion to climb. On the way towards Churchtown I met up with about fifteen teenagers in three groups heading towards a checkpoint on the walk that they were doing as part of a Duke of Edinburgh Award. They were carrying full packs with camping gear and some of the more slightly built ones must have been carrying nearly half their body weight. Needless to say, they were finding it difficult up the steep track from Churchtown. They were all very pleasant and I chatted to each group as I encountered them, so different from many of the teenagers hanging around on street corners.

Brompton Crossroads, my destination for the night, has very little in the way of facilities and, when I booked my accommodation at Little Brompton Farm, the lady there was rather reluctant to offer an evening meal, suggesting that I should call at Mellington Hall on the way, about one and a half miles before the farm. Mellington Hall is a large caravan park with hotel and restaurant and bar serving bar meals, but at 5.30 p.m., when I arrived there, everything seemed closed and there was nobody around to ask, so I continued on my way to my B&B. As I passed the end of the long driveway to the Hall, there was a sign saying that food was available from 6.30 to 9.30 so, after I had had a pot of tea and a bath in my rather luxurious accommodation, I headed back there, this time along the road and driveway to the hall, rather than along the dyke.

At the B&B I was told that there were two other walkers booked in and that they were stopping off for a meal at the hall. I was not quite sure who it would be but, when I arrived back at Mellington Hall, I found Jessica and her father just finishing a meal in the bar. They were just finishing their last of four days from Pandy, where I had first met them, and were heading back the following day to pick up their car. I had a very good meal of steak and ale pie plus Worthington's bitter before heading back to the B&B. The pub at Brompton Crossroads itself looked like a relic from the 1950s with signs advertising Double Diamond and a set of ancient, rusting petrol pumps outside, one of which was showing a price of 4/3d a gallon. I think there was some life in there as I passed by, but it was probably just a few locals in there.

The farmhouse was a very fine old half-timbered building, which had been very beautifully restored, revealing all the beams and timbers, and the accommodation was en-suite, mine having a large bathroom included.

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Day 7 - Tuesday 9th July - Brompton Crossroads to Buttington

Distance: 12 miles + 2 miles to Montgomery + 0.8 miles to B&B, Ascent: 1,450 ft

It was a damp, dismal morning as I got up for breakfast. I chatted to Jessica and her father who had to make their way to Craven Arms, about 15 miles away, to get a train back to Abergavenny. There was no bus there so they were going to attempt to hitchhike and, if that failed, they would call for a taxi. The lady from the B&B in Pandy, who was working in Abergavenny in the morning had offered to wait there to collect them from the station and take them back to the B&B, where they had left their car.

I set off into the rain, which started to get a bit heavier than the drizzle it had started with. I took a path, which is not marked on the map, back to the path. The right of way that is marked does not exist on the ground, as I had found the night before. There was a lot of long, wet grass to trudge through varying from knee height to shoulder height in places. I decided to take a detour into Montgomery, which is about a mile off the route, to take a look at the town and to buy something for lunch and send off some postcards and possibly take shelter from the rain for a while. It is quite a nice little town with a ruined castle high on a hill. Apart from a few shops and a pleasant looking square, there was not much else going on there. I thought that I might stop for a pot of tea, but I didn't see anywhere to get one so I headed back to rejoin the path. The rain had eased off to a drizzle and it was looking a little brighter as I made my way along the straight line of the dyke which, in some places is several feet high but in others is hardly more than a raised hedgerow.

After a mile or two of flat walking the path heads up a bank and follows the top of the hillside, where I stopped for a while for lunch under the shelter of a tree, although by now it had almost stopped raining. It was only about a mile and a half to Kingswood, where there was a pub marked in the guidebook, so I continued, still wearing my waterproofs because of the long, wet grass in places, rather than for the rain. The pub was closed when I got there, but the landlord was just returning in his car and he invited me in. He was very chatty and seemed willing to oblige anyone who came along, whether it was for a drink or a cup of tea. I only had one pint, as I still had several miles to go to my B&B just out of Buttington.

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Buttington from near Buttington View
Buttington from near Buttington View

On the climb up to Beacon Ring, an old hill fort, I met Alan, who was also heading to Buttington to a B&B as his tent was still soaking wet. We walked together past the fort, which looked just like a section of the dyke built in a circle, which I suppose it was. The weather started to improve further and there were some good views over Welshpool and of the hills round about. Down the hill towards Buttington Alan turned off to find his B&B at Buttington View, whilst I headed down to the busy A458 road and along there to Plas Cefn Holdings about three quarters of a mile to the north east. To start with there was a narrow footpath but then I just had to walk along the side of the road, which was not very pleasant with the busy traffic at that time of day. When I arrived at my B&B I was told off for not ringing to be picked up from Buttington and avoiding the walk along the road, but I generally prefer to do as much as possible on foot when I am on a long walk, even if it is not very pleasant at times.

I was just having a welcome cup of tea when the telephone rang and the landlady drove off to collect someone who said they knew me. She returned a few minutes later with Alan who had found that the other place had stopped doing B&B.

By the end of the walk, my feet were squelching because of all the walking through wet grass, although everything else was dry, so I stuffed my boots with newspaper to dry them out a bit. In many ways it was better that the worst weather had been in the morning when the walking had been on the flat, as I would not have missed much in the way of views.

Alan and I went down to the Green Dragon for a meal, driven there by the landlady, who insisted that we shouldn't walk down the road. After a pleasant meal and a few pints of Worthington's, disobeyed orders and walked back as there was a lot less traffic.

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