Offa's Dyke South - 2007

Day Two: 18th September

Weather: Sunshine most of day, marvellous walking weather

Route: Brocksweir to Monmouth - A mere 10 of your English/Welsh miles


Started the day with a hearty breakfast and a good s*^¨. So felt good. I had a good pair of walking socks that had a thin inner sock coupled to a thicker outer sock. They were very comfortable for the entire walk. I didn’t get any blisters, and surprisingly after six days of walking they didn’t niff too bad either. I quickly put a plaster over any sore spots on my tootsies and this did the trick. I hadn’t realised that my boots were over 10years old, like old slippers really. The soles were fairly worn down by the time I finished, but I digress that’s the end not day two.

I passed a horse up here

rolling border country

I meandered away slowly with only 10 miles to Monmouth, I didn’t want to arrive too soon in the afternoon. It was great weather for walking – cool but sunny. It didn’t stop me breaking into a sweat as I regained the height lost down into Brocksweir. The path was away from the Dyke for most of the next few days and only remnants could be seen here and there. The path led up across old farm lanes, some very narrow, but all in dappled sunlight. I passed a woman out on a Thelwell pony hack, not very often can you walk faster than a horse, but the lanes were narrow. She caught me up after a mile or so, and we had a good chat about horses in general. I certainly saw lots of them over the next few days. After a steady climb I came out above St Briavels common, no views of the Wye from here but beautiful rolling countryside. A good part of the day was walked through old woodland with the evidence of coppicing everywhere. After two miles or so I came to more old woodland and dropped down once again on a steeply wooded bank. There were lots of fallen trees, but the ground was wonderfully cushioned by leaf mould, like walking on a sponge. As I made my way down to Bigsweir Bridge there were some old gnarled Chestnuts that must have been a few hundred years old but still had plenty of chestnuts on.

and more...


That old chestnut……

It was back to the River Wye again for a short stretch and surprise…back up the hill through even more old woodland to be high above the river, once more meeting up with sections of the dyke. Most of the woodland is managed by various agencies – English or Welsh, and some of the dyke is managed by English Heritage. Some interesting wildlife was seen in the woods with a roe deer crossing the path very close to me and dashing off, and then to my surprise a dormouse. That shouldn’t have been up and about but the woods were very quiet. I didn’t meet a sole most of the morning. I could here the plaintive cries of the Red Kites and as I came out at the top of the woods I saw them circling in the sky looking out for lunch. The Swifts and Swallows were whirling around the sky, summer hadn’t finished yet. It is times like this when you’re on your own surrounded by nature that is the most relaxing, almost soporific. If the ground wasn’t wet I could have had a snooze quite easily. The countryside was rolling along away from the steep slope of the River Wye. The Limestone of day one giving way to Conglomerates and Sandstones. I carried on into more woodland and came out high above Lower Redbrook at the end of Highbury wood. That only meant one thing…down another steep slope to the valley. I’m glad I was walking North as the steepest inclines for me have been down and not up (just lulling me for day 4).

the view down to Monmouth, but not before another windy few miles

After the descent I was awfully tempted to pop in the pub but resisted the temptation. I had one more climb before the end of the day, through the village then on old farm tracks up to the National Trust property at Kymin, on the hill summit overlooking Monmouth. There was a fabulous view over the countryside that I would be walking through tomorrow, looking North to the Black mountains in the distance. The two strange buildings were built by the Gentlemen of Kymin Club, a late 18th century dining club – no doubt washed down with fine ale etc etc. I slowly made my way down to Monmouth, a lovely small town with some nice buildings to look at. I stayed at a restaurant with rooms, and it turned out to be the most delicious meal I had on the walk. The restaurant was called Prego and had been open for a year or so, they had a tie up with The Walnut Tree near Abergavenny which is meant to be a very good restaurant. After a good feed I retired upstairs to the lounge and watched footie on the widescreen TV – very civilised. If I had done the 18 mile walk from Chepstow I would have suffered, but the two days at 10 miles each gave me a good start ready for the longer stretches..

The view from Kymin – Sugar Loaf in the background.

Kymin round house – high above Monmouth


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