Offa's Dyke South - 2007

Day Three: 19th September

Weather: Drizzle with small showers, not too bright

Route: Monmouth to Pandy - 17 miles (19 with detours…pah)


Breakfast was very nice and well made. As I had a long trek ahead I ate every last crumb, that’s my excuse anyway. I paid my bill and wandered out into an overcast day. I bought a nice sandwich from M&S – Wensleydale with caramelised carrot chutney – mmmmmmmm. I managed to save it until lunch as well. Everyday I had three small packs of sweets – and I mean small. These gave me a sugar boost whenever I was feeling a bit weary or bored, and surprisingly they did last the six days and nights.

The 13th Century gatehouse above the River Monnow

Once I found the way out of town I walked over the bridge and along a small B road. I met up with an elderly Welshman who told me “You’ve got a long way to go boy”. After thanking him for his observation he told me the way up to the Offa’s Dyke path…not! A short detour later I found the start of the lanes leading up to the path, with the day spent mostly in the valley of the River Trothy across gently undulating farmland. As I crossed some newly ploughed fields the route was unclear and for the second time in 30 minutes I took the wrong route, walking higher up through the fields than I should have, finishing above the tree line instead of going through the forests. I stamped through a few fields working up the usual uphill sweat….nice, eventually spotting another tower. This one was occupied by sheep not Gentlemen, although at one time it must have led to a grand enough house. After studying my guide (I did learn to use it more often after this) I cut back through the woods and rejoined the correct path. There had been lots of clearing of the old forestry plantation fir trees, which is something I’ve noticed in different parts of the country now. They are replanting with more native species which should revive the wildlife in time. I passed the old stone marker at the crest of the hill marked 1857 Monmouth, I would have preferred 1666 Kronenbourg, but never mind. Once out of the woods, it was mainly rolling countryside, with plenty of ripe blackberries to eat along the way. I only picked the ones above the ‘pee’ zone, although one or two tasted a bit odd. Today was a bit more sociable as I caught up and passed three gentlemen from London, I said “You’ve got a long way to go boys”. Not very original, but I met up with them later on at the guesthouse and had an enjoyable evening. There were plenty of country lanes and styles today and being farmland plenty of livestock of the not so friendly variety. First up was the bull that posed for a photo and then proceeded in a not so orderly manner to pursue me from his field. Next to join the fun about 10 minutes later was the ram…..

plenty of fields to cross today

looking north

I should have taken my red hat off……

I thought the sheep had a bit of an attitude, but most got up and moved from the path. Apart from one that looked a bit different than the rest, and decided that I shouldn’t be in his field either. I’m obviously not Doctor Doolittle as telling him to ‘bugger orf’ had little effect. A quick sprint through a vicious field of sugar beet, was to be followed 5 minutes later by the pig incident. Quiet stroll indeed…

a typical church from today

Who’s a pretty boy then..

more fields and overcast..

There were quite a few derelict or near derelict farms along the way, with some reminiscent of Cold Comfort farm – which is where I met the pig. I was getting a bit paranoid at this stage and as I approached Sunnybank Farm (it was very picturesque – rolling countryside small river cutting through) and passed a steep cut in the river, I heard some grunting behind me. At first I thought it might be the farmer’s wife, but I turned around and saw this pink thing covered with riverbank mud chasing after me at a rate of knots. Needless to say I didn’t stop for a photo and haven’t gone over a style so quickly for a long time. The three amigos later told me they had been chased along at the same point. Things calmed down a bit after that and I returned to the lanes and more blackberries. I had lunch at the old 13th Century church at Llantilio Crossenny and rested after the first nine miles stroll. I was averaging about 2 to 3 mph, which was good enough to arrive at a reasonable time of the afternoon.
After a decent break I carried on across the rolling farmland, through several cider apple orchards – I should have stuffed my pockets for later on in case of anymore friendly livestock. A few miles on I passed by the White Castle, one of three that were built in the 12th Century to defend the route from Monmouth into Wales…from vicious pigs no doubt. The White castle was the best preserved with a moat around one side. But it is in the middle of nowhere, no villages nearby, just a small booth with a very good saleswoman in…’you must be thirsty boy…looks like the pigs been chasing you…’

White Castle... not a pub in sight

Wild horses wouldn't drag me away from Pandy and a pint

It was a dull day weather wise but lucky for me the rain held off until the last mile or so. When you only see more of the same for most of the day it could become a bit boring. But you never know what is around the next corner or field. I’d not been chased since lunch so I was a little wary as I climbed style after style. I saw lots of Welsh Cobs (horses) that look like the type of horses the Indians ride around on. The Indians from America, not India. But they were safely fenced in and looked quite peaceful grazing away with most of their foals lying around in a patch of sun. But as I crossed through a few more fields past Little Pool Hall there was a great squawking going on and a few hundred crows flapping wildly about in the air. Well that was the last straw for me, I didn’t want to be pelted with crow sh’+# so I used my initiative and found some paint…..and disguised myself as the front end of a Hereford bull, after my scarecrow outfit didn’t work. I was a bit weary towards the end of the walk and it didn’t help when it started to rain as I walked down towards Pandy. I had booked a room in what I thought was a pub, The Lancaster Arms as advertised on the website. When I finally got there it wasn’t a pub anymore but a guesthouse. But despite my initial disappointment, once I was inside the old bar was still up and running and my host served me up the first of several bottles of Rhymney Ale – a sweet locally brewed bitter…aaaaaaaaggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh as they say in the woodpecker advert. The landlady had got me a copy of The Times to read so it was a perfect end to the day. About 2 hours after I arrived I met the three amigos again and we had a good chat about the day over a pleasant chicken curry.

End of the day and here comes the rain. Sugar Loaf in the background.

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