Offa's Dyke South - 2007

Day Five: 21st September

Weather: Rain for most of the day

Route: Hay-on-Wye to Kington: 15 miles (+1 for the Hotel)


As usual I woke up at around 8:30, which was a good nights sleep for me, I normally only sleep for 6 hours and then doze. The breakfast room was full of older tourists enjoying the fact that the schools had returned. I had a wander around past the castle and found a Spar shop for my lunch. Most days I could always find a shop to buy some fruit and chocolate to sustain me for the day ahead. After the last 2 days I almost convinced myself that today would be a lot easier due to the lesser mileage. The day didn’t start too brightly and soon enough a steady drop of the wet stuff came down around my ears. But I didn’t use my leggings today and didn’t get soaked. I met an Irishman cutting a hedge, and asked for the road to Clyro – ‘Don’t go that way sorr, turn around quick now, begob thar’s me bus…’ sure enough he was right as well. I crossed over the River Wye and walked down along the banks. There was a lot of Japanese Knotwood, a rampant weed that grows by creeping roots. It can come up through concrete, and is resistant to chemical treatment. Not very nice for the UK as it takes over every where when it gets established. It was particularly pungent late in the season and not very attractive either.

Hay Castle, now a bookshop and café.

The route followed the river for a couple of miles, which was pleasant enough but a little soggy in the light rain. Today should have given me a good view back to the heights of Hay Bluff but it was a bit obscured by low cloud. Once more I walked into a field of sheep grazing quietly away, with the ram in attendance. It must have been the smell of fear because as I passed by it started to follow me at a fair pace, speeding up as I speeded up – just like a Benny Hill clip. I crossed over the busy Brecon to Hereford road and started to ascend Bettws Dingle, a steep sided wooded valley. Beyond the woods I came out onto a small lane and then to a little used B road. Looking back I caught occasional glimpses of the way I had come but Hay Bluff was never really visible for long. Still, the Blackberries kept me amused for the morning, along with the road repair crew. They were filling in holes and laying patches of new Tarmac – the council must have been spending the end of year budget, I didn’t see any cars at all, just grass growing down the middle of the road. The actual Dyke was still away to the West but coming closer, but walking was pleasant enough with the usual rise and fall. Most of the landscape seemed to be running East-West so all day was spent up and down hill and valley.

Hay Bluff in the distance.

After reaching Newchurch, a very small village, the path turned up Disgwylfa Hill. This was more sheep grazing land with lots of bracken growing well. The farmers here were cutting and bailing the bracken – I wondered what it’s used for, as when it dries out it gets fairly brittle.

A wet day, bracken bales further on

Once I was on the top of the hills the scenery opened up as far as the eye could see. Which wasn’t very far as it was still raining. I wandered along at a leisurely pace and walked down towards Gladestry – more animal trouble…

Not often you see a bear and a monkey up the same tree.

As I walked through the small village I found a bench to sit on and rest my weary bones. The constant drizzle doesn’t fill me with energy. I resisted the temptation to go in the Royal Oak as I still had about 5 miles to walk including a fairly stiff climb up to Hergest Ridge.

The view from my bench…inertia setting in

The climb up to the ridge at 1400ft wasn’t as bad as I expected, probably because my legs were approaching the consistency of ready made concrete. The views from the top were good enough but low cloud persisted to obscure the now distant Hay Bluff. When you look back at where you have walked the previous day, you do get a sense of satisfaction, always onward on a long distance walk. The top of the ridge was nicely crapped…I mean cropped grass with low Gorse bushes, with the characteristic yellow blooms and distinctive smell. There was once an old racecourse up here and you can still see the curve of the course. It must have been a fairly precarious ride though as the ground sloped away from the crest. Once over the common land I descended past a nice arboretum at Hergest Croft and continued down the road to Kington. The village was not as picturesque as Hay-On-Wye, and spread out along the main road. I got hold of a copy of the Times and made my way to my chosen Hotel. It was a bit tired in appearance and when the manager said that will be 66 pounds please, I replied politely…How much! Needless to say I turned around and found a much nicer place to stay up the road at The Swan Hotel, a relative bargain at 39.50. I had a reasonable meal, a few pints of Cider and read the paper. A nice relaxing end to the day. My boots were now suffering from three wet days with nowhere to dry out. The inside was ok but the outer leather was sodden. But only 14 more miles…

Hay Bluff away in the distance from Hergest Ridge

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