Welsh Borders Walk and Offa’s Dyke
A literal change of scenery for my boots and I this weekend. I swapped my Lake District maps for those of Shropshire and Wales and joined some friends for a couple of days walking close to Shrewsbury. Having never been to the area before I had no idea what to expect and was surprised at the beauty of the scenery and the remoteness of the towns and villages.
Offa’s Dyke is one of the most walked trails in the area and we followed it for about 4 miles from the delightful little town of Knighton. Knighton straddles the Anglo Welsh border, partially in Radnorshire and partially in Shropshire. It’s Welsh name is Tref-y-clawdd – town on the dyke.
The terrain may not be mountains and only peak at just over 400 metres, but when the guide book stated the track rose almost vertically, it did! So an excellent work out for heart and lungs, as we scrambled through the deciduous leaf mould of Kinsley Wood. Once on the top of the ridge there was a more gentle stroll, firstly through ancient woodland and then across turf that has the soft springy feel only present when the ground has never been ploughed.
Offa’s Dyke, this stretch at least, was somewhat of an anti-climax. Unfortunately it has been eroded by walkers and the weather, dug under by rabbits and driven over by farmers, so that it is not very impressive, but it is still visible and admiration has to be given to its builders who lacked the JCBs of today.
Our highest point was Cum-sanaham Hill where we had a 360° view from the trig point. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy so the distance hills were not clear. The descent was as steep as the climb up. It was little more than a sheep track and after the recent rain, was slippery enough to have warranted walking poles – which we had not taken. Salutary lesson. Almost from the top of Cum-sanaham Hill there was pretty white cottage visible in the valley, strangely surrounded by what appeared to be slurry. A wet, sloppy soup of mud and sheep, well imagine… be warned if, you ever follow this path, it takes a direct route in front of the lovely cottage and through the soup. The front gate, in the photo, appeared to be the only vehicular access.
Our return followed the Teme valley back to Knighton. The mild weather had encouraged the catkins and snowdrops and the noisiest inhabitants were the kites and buzzards circling overhead.
Wandering around Knighton was like stepping back in to a time before the invention of supermarkets. There was a tiny corner Co-op, but aside from that there were the full range market town shops from butcher to baker to candlestick maker. Our choice of ‘tea and cake’ stop, Prince & Pugh ltd, appeared to typify this, selling everything from knives and Agas to speciality Italian pasta and herbal remedies.
The Earl Grey tea and bara brith was delicious and can be highly recommended.
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