Day 14 – What a blast its been!

Well, that’s it folks – the walk is done.  Fourteen days and 163 miles later and I ended the day back at All Saints, Hollybush.  But let’s start at the beginning of the day, a very good place to start.  Our lovely friend and neighbour Julian – he of the heroic and epic Day 2 – picked us up at 8ish and we then went to Crows Nest, via Berrow to pick up Ruth, and onto the Moody Cow for the start of day photo;

The three amigos ride again!

And yes, you’re right, Ruth and I were joined by routemaster Mike making a special guest appearance by popular request…..He led us off down the road, and we began the day with a gentle bit of road walking which took us past Upton Bishop Church, with its magnificent lych gate;

Upton Bishop Lych Gate

and a very informative churchyard noticeboard;

Churchyard noticeboard

On down the road and then we turned off into woodland – Linton wood, then Queens wood – so it was all nice, level walking with lovely wide walkable tracks like this;

Woodland walking

I’m not saying it was irritating that Mike had joined me on the one day when the walking was comparatively easy – but it was, a bit…..Anyhow it was while we were walking in the woods that I clocked up the final 3 miles I needed to reach 150 resulting in this photo of joy;

Hoorah! 150 miles!

We spotted benches and seized the opportunity to take our first break.  After a brief spot of road walking we went through Oxenhall wood, and then crossed the M50 for the first of four times – this time by bridge.  Once on the other side, I saw a signpost which reminded me of Mike’s Dad;

Heading in the right direction

And also told us we were on the right road for Dymock, the end of this part of the walk.  We crossed under the M50 this time, and headed across fields and alongside a small part of the old Hereford/Gloucester canal before arriving at the Beauchamp Arms, Dymock;

Beauchamp Arms, a lovely pub.

After enjoying a refreshing lemonade and lime and a packet of crisps in their fab beer garden, it was still only 12.30pm so we decided to push onto Bromsberrow and see how we felt when we got there.  We headed off down the road and then embarked upon the adventure of the Poet’s Paths which did have shades of the Three Choirs Way to them, but not as bad.  By now we were getting views of the Malverns getting ever closer;

Getting closer…..

Having gone under the motorway once more, then walked alongside it for a while, we emerged once more onto a long stretch of road walking via Ryton and Bromsberrow Heath, which provided lovely views back the way we’d come;

We’ve come a long way….

Finally, we passed Bromsberrow Sand and Gravel and then crossed the motorway one last time via a bridge, came to the main Ledbury road and crossed that to arrive, via footpath at Bromsberrow Church;

Bromsberrow Church

Rested and refreshed, we decided to go for it and to try to complete the rest of the walk, as it was still only 2.30pm and the forecast for the next day was not good.  So we headed across fields to the road, up past Bromsberrow school and war memorial and then turned up towards Chase End.  Took a shortcut across a massive field and then headed up, up, up to the trig point on top of Chase End with its wonderful views;

Chase End View

From there it was down into White Leaved Oak, round the lower part of Raggedstone Hill – sorry Mike – and cutting across a field to get to the road, then Hollybush Rooms and then on down to the church, picking up Shirley along the way;

And then there were 4

And suddenly we were back at the Church and it was all done.  We were greeted by a fantastic welcoming committee with flags and hooters and a much appreciated bottle of fizz. 

The End!

Particular credit to Ruth who came along for a 6 mile walk and ended up doing 14 but was unfailingly cheerful and encouraging.  And immense thanks to Mike who planned and supported the whole mad enterprise.  And many, many thanks to all of you who have supported me with prayers, emails, comments and donations – all very much appreciated.  The total raised at the moment stands at a phenomenal £4,210 with some donations still to come – your generosity is amazing.

As for me, I think it will take me a while to assimilate it all.  Might try and do a postscript after a few days, so keep watching this space!










Day 13 – Homecoming Queen…..

It all started so well………Mum and Dad came down to Bishopswood to see me off, which was lovely;

Family support!

Then I set off, crossing the road by the bus stop and heading up between 2 houses.  As I drew level with  the door of one, it opened and a somewhat startled householder emerged!  He couldn’t have been nicer, checked I had enough water with me and advised that the path to Ross was not well marked.  Clearly he’d never experienced the Three Choirs Way!!!  In fact, I found the waymarking of this stage of the Wye Valley Walk to be pretty good.  After an uphill stretch, the path levelled out and went along the contours of the hill, giving a good view down towards Walford Church;

View of Walford Church

Then it was into some wondrously shady woodland, and as I realised I hadn’t many photos of woodland paths, I took this one;

Tranquil woodland path

It was excellent walking, from Leys Hill to Bulls Hill and onto Howell Hill – where I was not expecting to find this as I heaved my carcass over a stile;

Unexpected vineyard!

Eventually emerged onto the road next to Coughton Mill and after a short walk found the next clearly signposted route up through fields to my next wooded hill.  As I approached the woodland, I saw a very tempting bench just off the path, and when I saw it was Bob’s bench, I felt it was a sign to stop – hopefully Bob James would approve!

So I sat myself down on Bob’s bench;

Bob’s Bench

and looked out at the view.

View from Bob’s Bench

A walker coming the other way told me this had been where the farmer of this land had liked to sit and his family had put the bench there in his memory after his death.  His son now farms the land.

Rested and refreshed I headed uphill and soon found the path in familiar state;

Verdant summer undergrowth

although not too bad this time as you could still see the path.  Huffed and puffed my way to the top of the hill and was rewarded by a lovely followable track which took me pretty much all the rest of the way to Ross.  Did have to do a bit of wood and field walking to get to the town itself, which gave me this view over the metropolis…

At last – Ross!

In my excitement, got myself slightly off track, but able to backtrack and correct and walked up through the town to the Hope and Anchor where the next stage of the walk began.  Headed out of town, past very impressive swan sculptures;

Swans in flight

Kept the river to my left, pausing under the A40 bridge to refold the map and get a classic view of the town and St Mary’s Church spire;

Ross from the river

From the known to the unknown and out into farmland again, following a disused railway track once more.  Then turned across fields, getting a bit lost at a point where some boundaries had been removed, but managed to sort myself out and head off in the right direction.  Finally hit road again and walked on up to Hole in the Wall, passing the footbridge across the river to Foy Church – no time to explore.

Hole-in-the-Wall – it exists!

It was here that the wheels really did start to come off as I missed the footpath signs to the footpath I needed – ironically under the branches of the tree to the right of the noticeboard in the photo above!  Tried to follow another signed path but couldn’t get it to agree with my paper or phone maps.  Wasted a lot of time and effort and then eventually retraced my steps to the noticeboard and bumped into a couple and their dog who had clearly just emerged from a path – and lo, I saw the signs!  Feeling both foolish and tired, I headed onto the Herefordshire trail and the last leg of my walk for the day.  All went well for the first bit, made it to the road, crossed over and walked along this lovely poppy studded field margin;

Poppies in harvest field

But then the way markers disappeared, and I stuck to the field boundaries as per the map, heading for the green lane which was to take me to Wobage Farm and the road to the end of the walk.  Unfortunately, it was not in peak walkable condition…

There’s a path here somewhere!

Struggled along it, through the farm buildings and out onto the road to arrive at the Moody Cow and find Mike and the Morgan waiting.  By this time, I was feeling like a bit of a moody cow myself, so this is a very appropriate photo!

A moody cow outside the Moody Cow!

147 miles done, 13 to do so it looks like it will be 160 when we’re done.  Tomorrow to Dymock and beyond!






Day 12 – Bridge over the River Wye

Or, to be more precise, 3 bridges over the River Wye which were a crucial factor in today’s walk!  The good news was that Simon has very generously decided to give up another day of his time to accompany me, sporting a very fetching Cricket World Cup T Shirt as you’ll see from the start of day photo.

Start of day 12 – Simon returns!

It was another lovely sunny day as we headed off up river, spotting the first of many swans.  Soon the path took us into some nice cooling woodland, but even deep in the woods, border posts have to be maintained…..

Crossing the border.

We kept on through a combination of woodland and open fields, the river always on our right, the sound of traffic from the A40 an ever present background hum.  Then we came to the first of our 3 bridges, which Simon remembered crossing as a 4 year old, the Biblins bridge;

Bridge 1 – Biblins Bridge

It was a bit swayey and spongey – and folk have started doing the padlock thing on it, but here’s a little about its history;

Bridge safety warning

We carried on, now with the river on our left, along wide straight tracks pretty much all the way to Symonds Yat East where we had our first break of the day whilst watching an alternative means of crossing the Wye…..

Chain ferry, Symonds Yat East

Rested and refreshed, we pressed on to the most strenuous part of the walk which took us away from the river uphill and through some tricky paths.  Sometimes there was a tricky stony descent, sometimes there were fallen trunks or branches to step over and sometimes there was the lethal combination of bracken and nettles to wade through, we even had to climb a large flight of steps at one point!  However, finally made it back to nice level track and open fields, heading down a disused railway line site towards the Lydney Bridge.  This had been closed for a while due to safety concerns, but local knowledge aka Mum and Dad suggested that the 2 councils had come up with a temporary solution to get it open again.  Thankfully, they had;

First glimpse of Lydney Bridge

We were so relieved we stopped for our second break of the day, looking out at this relaxing river view;

Lunchtime view

which was right next to this not so relaxing notice…..

Welcome to the Wye!

Nothing daunted, on we went and were soon crossing over the second of our three bridges, temporary but functional;

Lydney Bridge – a temporary solution

and giving great views both up and downstream;

Busy day on the river
Quieter downstream

With the river back on our right, we carried on and soon came across St Margaret’s, Welsh Bicknor which looked fascinating from the outside

St Margaret’s, Welsh Bicknor

but, sadly, there was no time to linger!  We headed on across fields, easy walking as they’d been baled.  Then, just as the outskirts of Bishopswood village came in sight, it was back into the woods and a replay of all our worst bits from earlier in the day – wading through nettles and bracken, upsy, downsy paths with stones and fallen trees.  But then, finally, the end was in sight – there was Goodrich Castle up on the hill;

Goodrich Castle up on the hill

and we had the added bonus of a quick shower from the field watering system!  Up and over Kerne Bridge, our third bridge of the day, a quick bit of road walking down to the Village Hall and there we were – journey’s end;

The end of another long hot day.

Many thanks to Simon for walking another 13.5 miles with me, at times over quite challenging terrain!  3 days to go, 134.5 miles walked so far.  Hopefully tomorrow will get me within spitting distance of that magic 150.






Day 11 – Revisiting old haunts…..

Monday dawned bright and sunny and turned out warm again – I’ve definitely been blessed with some wonderful weather.  Down the M50 we went and back to Llantilio Crossenny and the massive St Teilo’s Church for the start of day photo;

Week 3 already!

After a bit of drama with the phone – which hadn’t appreciated being charged in the car – I headed out down the road, across well marked path to cut a corner and then along more road til the real path began.  This proved to be prime cider apple growing country, with orchards dedicated to producing apples for Bulmers.  Lovely to walk through, and lovely to look back on as I left this splendid view behind me.

Views back to the Sugar Loaf

Bumped into my first other solo female walker of this trip just after this view – very cheery youngster!  Headed round a field boundary and out into the road, which took me uphill to my next stretch of field where I literally bumped into 1 man and his dog as the man checked to see whether his ewes had been collected – not yet.  Carried on aiming for my first Church of the day but sadly St Michael and All Angels at Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern was a bit of a disappointment.  First of all – no bench in the churchyard, and then this;

Padlocked door and donation slot

As the lady walking the Offa’s Dyke path going the other way remarked, as she and her husband took their break in the porch – “They aren’t going to get many donations if they keep people locked out.”  Obviously I don’t know the story behind this Church and why the decision to keep it locked – apart from Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays – has been made.  But it was certainly in stark contrast to other Churches on the Offa’s Dyke trail who positively welcome walkers and leave tea and coffee making facilities for them…..I walked on through some more wonderful meadow land with butterflies flitting hither and thither.  Back out onto the road and had hopes that the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey might provide a place to sit – but no such ruins encountered, instead a group of very settled cows stood and laid right on the path.  In fact one was stood right in front of the gate I needed to go through.  Luckily they were in docile and reflective mood and moved aside to let me through.  Then it was on through a couple of fields – one containing a discarded three piece suite which was very tempting but quite close to a caravan, so I kept going.  Back out onto the road but then eventually to a track leading onto some cooling shady woodland – and what was this, by the side of the track – a bench for the weary walker!

At last – a seat!

As I sat and took my ease, I became aware that I was not alone and was causing some curiosity amongst my neighbours, who crept closer and closer to get a better look at this strange human…..

What are you doing there?

Suitably refreshed, I pressed on into the woods and a bit of very welcome shade.  Excellent walking along tracks and paths – including a sign giving me the good news that Monmouth was only 3 miles away.  Once out of the woods, it was back to a bit of field walking – this time fields of borage which were a very beautiful blue;

Colour of the day – borage blue

I exited the fields onto Watery Lane which had some very Grand Designs houses as well as some older, more traditional models.  Kept going on into the town itself, and came face to face with Monnow Bridge, famed for being on the driving test route in my day – although now no longer accessible to vehicles.

Bridge over the Monnow

I marched up the high street of this border town, attracting curious glances from the shoppers and staying strong to prevent myself becoming distracted by Rossiters, the excellent bookshop.  Schooldays here were definitely not the happiest of my life, but I did make some very good friends, two of whom, Marianna and Martin, died far too young of cancer, so this day of the walk is dedicated to their memories.  Marianna and I shared a passion for books – she would have loved Rossiters.  Martin and Marianna shared a love of fast cars – a Ford Capri and a Lotus to be exact – but by taking the glamorous subway under the A40 I managed to avoid any oncoming vehicles and emerge safe on the riverside where I waved a fond farewell to Offa’s Dyke and a hopeful hello to the Wye Valley Walk. 

Headed out of Monmouth, passing the rowing club and on up river to the Church of St Peter’s Dixton.  The interior was simple with clean lines, carving and some interesting artwork;

Font and carved balcony at back of Church
Nave, with stained glass and artwork

It was only when we were taking photos outside that we realised the chancel has been blocked off and the Church truncated as the roof of the Chancel needs major repair work.

St Peter’s, Dixton, exterior

The tarpaulin clad roof of the chancel is out of sight behind the tree…..a reminder of the difficulties of Church maintenance.

End of day 11 – 121 miles done and a couple of long days to come.  Hard to believe I’ll have finished the walk in 4 more days……

End of Day 11 – hot but happy!

















Day 10 – Sun’s shining again!

Got ourselves up and out on a lovely sunny morning to return to our scenic layby in Pandy for the start of day photo;

Last walk of the week!

Set out across the main road, but then quickly climbed across fields, leaving a lovely view back the way I’d come;

Gorgeous Monmouthshire countryside

As I continued to climb, I was reminded that I was back in the world of field edges and cows….Luckily these cows were far more interested in breakfast than in me!

Cows, peacefully grazing….

Emerged onto road for a short while then it was back to walking across fields and meadowland, enjoying watching the butterflies flitting by in the sunshine.  Eventually emerged onto the road heading for my first Church of the day – St Cadoc’s in Llangattock Lingoed.  The Offa’s Dyke path which I was still, thankfully, following actually runs right through the churchyard, so the decision to take my break here was made for me.  The Church looked simple from the outside;

St Cadoc’s, Llangattock Lingoed

but the inside was a total wow.

St Cadoc’s, interior

Wall paintings, medieval stained glass fragments and a bressumer beam, St Cadoc’s had it all;

Wall painting of St George and the Dragon, revealed during recent restoration work
Medieval stained glass fragments
Part of the intricately carved bressumer beam, which would have been part of a rood screen.

Its a Grade 1 listed church and, reading the excellent guide book, I learned that the Nave roof had been on the point of collapse in 2002 and that the PCC, supported by grants and the local community, had raised funding to restore the Church to the fantastic building it is today.  Many congratulations to them all.  So impressed I bought the guide book!

Left St Cadoc’s and continued downhill for a change, crossed a stream and then did a fair bit of road walking, til the path took me back to the fields again.  Managed to navigate myself along to my next major landmark – White Castle – which is huge!

White Castle

Even managed to make it across a couple of narrow but spectacularly spongy bridges….

Once past White Castle, it was just a long farm track and then some final fields to cross.  As is so often the way, tangling with fields and crops caused a few issues – though must say Monmouthshire farmers so far have left wonderful margins, or even clear paths through crops for walkers.  Could see the Church spire but was still a little bit of road walking to do before I made it, very happy to see the trusty Skoda parked up in a very splendid church car park.  St Teilo’s is massive as the end of walk photo for day 10 shows;

End of day 10 – small walker, big church!

The interior was cathedral like!

St Teilo’s interior

and had fab 1960s psychedelic stained glass;

St Teilo’s stained glass

set above a simple, traditional altar;

St Teilo’s altar

Two amazing and contrasting churches visited, a lovely walk on a hot, sunny day – a good end to week 2 which had begun so badly!  And now I’m up to 110 miles walked, so well ahead of schedule and feet and legs still holding up well.  Bring on week 3!










Day 9 – A Bit of a Climb….

Day nine saw my earliest start yet, as we took full advantage of staying just up the road from the start of the walk at Capel-y-Ffin monastery.  As you drive up to the monastery, this is the statue which greets you;

Statue of the Blessed Virgin

  If you look closely you’ll see she’s missing her thumb and some finger ends, as children who lived there in the 70s used her as a goal post – we met them as grown ups yesterday afternoon and Mike took a photo of them either side of the poor mistreated statue!

After a very comfortable night staying totally off grid at the monastery, we drove the short distance to the Church for the by now traditional start of walk photo;

Capel-y-Ffin in all its small but perfectly formed glory.

Then I headed off over a stream and along the valley before heading up, up and up to re-join the Offa’s Dyke path at the top of the ridge.  On the plus side, saw fabulous views like this as I climbed;

View along Capel-y-Ffin valley

but on the minus side, it was a long hard climb right up to the tops, only to find these beauties calmly grazing up there when I arrived!

Black Mountain ponies at the top of the world!

Re-joined the main Offa’s Dyke path which stretched far into the distance all along the ridge;

Follow the Offa’s Dyke road

Made for great views back over towards the Malverns;

Views back towards home

but also meant you could see exactly how much further you’d got to go!  Kept on keeping on, always meeting hikers coming in the opposite direction, and finding trig points really useful both to confirm how far I’d got and to sit on out of the wind during my breaks.

Eventually made it to the descent, and wound my way down country lanes and across fields to the pick up point at Pandy.  However, the day’s excitement was not quite over.  From the map, I knew I needed to cross a railway line and a stream to reach the pick up point.  What I wasn’t expecting was this;

An arresting end of walk sign….

combined with this;

On your marks, get set, run across the railway line……

I was hoping for more of a bridge situation….However, nothing for it, I stopped, looked, listened and then waddled across as fast as my weary little legs would carry me.  Was crossing the stream – via a bridge – moments later when I heard a train passing by – timing, its all in the timing.  Mike’s timing was spot on too, as he pulled up just as I came through the final gate, and took this end of walk photo;

Just happy to still be in one piece after the railway crossing!

Total mileage now just over 100 – 101.7- and still a day to go til the end of week 2, so will probably end up doing around 160 miles.  However, all that still to come, just focussing on getting to the end of week 2 tomorrow!

















Day 8 – Black Mountain Adventure!

The upside of doing a long day yesterday was that today was a short one – between 8 and 9 miles – so I was in more confident mood as we returned to the craft centre car park for the start of day photo;

Ready for a shorter day!

Also I was re-joining Offa’s Dyke for at least the first part of the walk, so could head off safe in the knowledge that I would be on good, well signed paths.  And I had just enjoyed the most amazing breakfast, courtesy of Jo at Breese Barn, delivered to the room no less.  All was well with my world! 

Walked across field initially and, while I’ve passed through many kissing gates in my time, I’d never before crossed a kissing bridge…..

A kissing bridge – who knew?

Came to a road, tiny bit of road walking and then back to the fields and so the gradient started to head up and up and then up some more.  But even half way up a mountain, you can still find a lovely cottage garden…

Mountain garden

Kept going up, up and then some more up, and was overtaken by a much fitter and sprightlier lady, but then turned round and saw the glorious view back to Hay;

View back to Hay in the valley below

Came out from this meadow onto a track, which led me through a farmstead with two very friendly but vociferous dogs, then through fields until suddenly I was out onto moorland and mountain;

Mountain landscape

Just as I was doubting which way to go a fellow walker approached from the other direction and reassured me I was on the right track, and then three strapping young men passed me with a cheery hello, so I could follow in their wake all the way to the road.

Took my break sitting on a stone in a packed car park – Stone Circle on the map and I could understand why you would put a place of worship here – the mountain behind you and views across half the world in front of you – sublime.

Sublime views

I continued along the road, and as I drew closer to a mountain ahead was aware that there appeared to be people with big rucksacks on actually running down the mountain.  As anyone born and brought up in these parts would have done, my immediate thought was – squaddies.  And then I rounded the bend and saw this;

Army manoeuvres!

and as I passed by one of the young men was coming down the mountain and, from a distance I thought – he looks like he’s carrying a gun – and so he was…..So I passed swiftly along, only to encounter this amusing juxtaposition shortly afterwards….

Wild horses and army trucks

Continued on my merry way, only to hear a driver toot his horn at me – turned to find Mike heading on to our next stop at the monastery at Capel-y-Ffin.  Pausing only to re-fold my map for me, he headed on and I kept on toward the cattle grid and bridleway which were my next destination, pausing only to marvel at this road sign;

Black Mountain road sign

I found the bridleway and headed off along it, heading through long stretches of bracken, fording muddy patches of stream and worrying as to how I was going to find the way down again.  But find it I did, and, on my way down, got lovely photos of the Church;

St Mary’s, Capel-y-Ffin

and the monastery;

Capel-y-Ffin monastery

Mike was waiting for me at the end of the path and so we walked the last little bit of road to the church together.  Pausing only to have the end of walk photo taken;

Made it to Capel-y-Ffin!

we went on into the Church and I’ve taken a few photos to try to show what makes it such a very special place;

Attentive congregation……

Teddies take up the whole front pew – clearly not Anglicans!

Then there is the beautiful artwork;

Our lady of Capel-y-Ffin icon

The icon refers to the fact that this place became a place of worship after a Norman lady had a vision of the Virgin Mary in the field in which the Church now sits.

David Jones’ Christ of Capel-y-Ffin

David Jones often stayed with Eric Gill up at the monastery and painted this image of a crucified Christ with the Black Mountains, the Church and a wild mountain pony in the background.

Excerpt from psalm 121 inscribed on window

In the window behind the altar, the opening lines of psalm 121 are etched on the glass to commemorate the restoration of the Church in 1991.

Font with a difference…

Finally the font, which looks fairly standard until you take a closer look at the wooden cover;

There’s a mouse in this house!

For such a tiny place of worship, it fits a lot in and has an atmosphere and a peace all of its own.  A remarkable and sacred space – and one which is of special significance to me as its where Great Uncle Clarence is buried.  I think he might well have thought this walk a load of old squitter as my grandad might have said – but I think he’d have been glad I’ve maybe re-captured some of that kindred spirit of adventure he saw in me as a child.  Thanks for bringing me back to this beautiful place Uncle Clarence.  And thanks to Shepherd’s in Hay for magnificent ice cream and the wifi to make this post!




























Day 7 – Walking heaven!

If yesterday was walking hell, today was definitely walking heaven!  Wide, well maintained, clearly way marked paths – God bless King Offa and his dyke say I. I do confess though that it was with some trepidation that I found myself back at Kington Museum.

What would today bring???

I think my last words to Mike were that today’s walk couldn’t be worse than yesterdays – and in fact it was a million times better.  Weather was overcast and cloudy, which was perfect for a day spent doing hills and a long distance.  I walked up through Kington, through the churchyard and up past Hergest Croft gardens to go out onto Hergest Ridge.  This is a walk we’ve done before so was on familiar territory to begin with. 

Now that’s what I call a path!

Went onward ever onward up to the top, overtaken by a man who does this everyday and described it as his gym and his church, which I found interesting.  This time round the wild ponies were out on the ridge with their beautiful foals.  Kept on keeping on to the part of the ridge I’d never explored, kept following the handily placed way marks, and eventually made it down into Gladestry, passing this magnificent vehicle on the descent.

Vintage car – MG??

Greeted as I entered the village by a cheery couple who told me the pub wasn’t yet open but that tea and coffee were freely available at the Church.  When I got to St Mary’s I found that not only do they leave out tea and coffee for walkers, in return for a donation, they also provide toilet facilities – and here it is dear reader……..

Bioloo, St Mary’s Gladestry

Its a loo which doesn’t use water and has been introduced to a Grade 1 listed Church – worth looking into for Hollybush I feel. 

Had a lovely sit for my break in the churchyard, then moved onward, ever onward over the rolling hills to Newchurch and another St Mary’s which once more offered tea and coffee to walkers, and had a particularly magnificent bench for my next break;

St Mary’s Newchurch

The lovely Offa’s Dyke path signposts occasionally told you how many miles to go and at Newchurch it was 6.5 miles still to go to Hay, so set off up another hill.  One of the many great things about today was that I’d left behind arable land and moved into a land of sheep and grass – so much easier to walk over.

Then it was along a green lane – counterintuitively marked as Red Lane on the map, up another hill, down some road, cutting across a field, more road walking and then a final bit of downhill through woodland which was lovely but by this stage, long.  Emerged out onto the main road all set to march on to Hay when rudely interrupted by a car horn – Mike had come to the original pick up point to give me the option of finishing the day there or carrying on into Hay.  Like an idiot I went for carrying onto Hay and so a final hours walking ensued – which on the minus side included the only cows of the day, but they were far more interested in munching than in stray walkers, and on the plus side had some lovely riverside walking.  As I emerged through the final gate, Mike was sat on a bench waiting for me, so we walked up through the town to the car together for the end of day photo;

Tired but very happy to be in Hay!

Total mileage walked was a whopping 16.3 miles, furthest I’ve ever walked, so was wonderful to be able to just nip over to Dorstone to our wonderful B & B at Breese Barns,, and then down to the Pandy Inn for tea – even managed to walk to the pub and back!














Day 6 – Fell into a Ditch……

This week was always going to be the tough week – but today was meant to be a gentle re-entry into the wonderful world of walking.  Didn’t quite work out that way!  Started off well enough.  The weather was cooler, but still nice and dry.  I found my way back to wonderful Woonton without any problem,

Start of day photo, little did she know what lay ahead!

and picked up the path straightaway, passing the Friends Meeting House and heading across a hay field populated by rabbits!  In Logaston passed a house which showed the miles from there to Rome and to Santiago de Compostella – and thought of Nick and Phil, currently walking the way of St James!  Diverted from my set path to a more direct and easier looking route, which led me to a field margin with no apparent exit!  In the nick of time, a bridge appeared – attributed to the Vaughan Way – who knew? and suddenly I was back on track.  Arrived in Almley in good time and paused a moment to admire their war memorial;

War memorial, Almley

and to marvel at the fact that they still have a bus service……..Long stretch of road walking brought me to the outskirts of Eardisley, where I managed to find the next footpath to take.  Took my first break of the day sat in a field, enjoying the sunshine.

Then headed up into Holywell Dingle, which was beautiful and cool woodland.  Did have to duck under a couple of large fallen tree trunks – and over a couple of smaller ones – and the path did come and go but made it out by LeMore Manor safe and sound -the worst was yet to come!

Headed along a busy bit of main road, then down a side road and picked up the path again without a problem.  Crossed a couple of stiles into fields and then into more woodland – which is where my problems began!!!  Kept going to the very end of the woodland, but once out the other end it became clear that I had gone very wrong and was well off the path.  Re-traced my steps back to the stile I’d come in by and resorted to reading the written instructions.  These said I needed to go through a gate in the woodland and across a covered bridge.  All that was left of the gate was a gate post, the bridge had been demolished by a fallen tree.  I could just see the stile and way mark into the field and was able to cross the stream without aid of bridge.  It was here that my troubles really began.  The stile was barricaded with nettles, thistles and ferns.  Once I’d made it through, the margin was unwalkable, and walking through the crop I was hampered by that sticky weed, cleavers, which grabbed at my legs.  Fell about 3 times, made it to the next stile, even more congested, in fact so congested you couldn’t see the bridge over the ditch leading to the stile til you’d fallen into it – at least I couldn’t!!!!  I won’t bore you with the other fields, the nettles, the thistles, the cleavers and the impassable field margins – except to say that I came close to suffering a serious sense of humour failure!!  However, all things pass, and, having no alternative route I kept on going and finally emerged into a farm lane.

Crossed over, following the path, but soon off track again.  However, by the time a kindly farmer stopped and got off his tractor to help me out I was back on track.  There was one more crop field to wade through, but then it was back to blissful grass, and eventually meadow land with a couple of donkeys.  Last leg as along a country lane – no trip hazards there – and finally I made it to Kington.  Battered, bruised – but still going!

Kington – at last!








Walking in a Woonton Wonderland

The day dawned fair again, and we’d decided last night that my faithful chauffeur deserved a morning off.  Otherwise he would have done getting on for 6 hours in the car today, whereas instead he stayed home and took a radiator off the wall……

Anyhow, I set off solo for Monkland, slightly later than planned, and arrived to find my lovely Aunty Pat waiting to see me off – which was handy because it meant she could take the start of walk photo;

Me, holding a photo of my Uncle Mike.

Uncle Mike is one of the reasons I’m doing this walk.  He was an amazing man, with a real zest for life, a great cook, loved his family and his job and played rugby and then refereed rugby for as long as he was able.  A policeman who rose through the ranks in the Met, and then returned to live in Leominster with my Aunty Pat in retirement, a place they both know and love, a place where they still had many friend and he could get heavily involved with the Old Luctonians rugby club.  He and Pat had 10 good years of retirement together before cancer claimed him far too soon in 2013.  I suspect he would have walked at least part of todays leg with me, just to keep an eye on me and make sure all was well.  He is hugely missed by family and friends alike, and I know the Macmillans were a huge help to him and to Aunty Pat during his illness.  Here’s my first ever attempt at a selfie, with Aunty Pat;

Me and Aunty Pat

Finally headed off, through a cattery and out across the fields.  Thank goodness for all Dave’s education.  Had it not been for him I would have gone wrong several times, but as it was I managed to stay on track, mainly using the map and just checking my position on my phone.  And then the minor miracle happened – after successfully navigating a field of wheat, a field of maize and a field of potatoes, I arrived at a stile leading to a sort of green lane which was to lead me onto the road.  As I climbed over the stile, I noticed a hedge trimmer lying on the ground and some debris around.  At the next stile lay a chainsaw, visor, gloves and a discarded shirt draped over the top of the stile.  So when I saw a bare chested man approaching as I walked the last stretch, it didn’t take much brain power to put two and two together so I stopped to thank him for all his hard work.  He told me that before that morning this stretch of path was totally unpassable and therefore never used…….its all in the timing!

Then came a long stretch of road walking which meant less of a navigational challenge so I could spot views like this one;

Glorious Herefordshire countryside

Paused for my first break on a very handy bridge over the Stretford Brook, again with a fab view;

Bridge over the Stretford Brook

Kept going and going, in and out of Dilwyn and then back onto footpaths, encountering a very cheery farmer hauling bales.  Weobley church spire beckoned to me from a long way off – and when I got up close I found a lovely shady bench in the churchyard for my next break where I could watch the swifts coming and going.

Weobley Church

Texted Mike an eta and then set off out of Weobley, heading for Woonton.  This was where it all went wrong….I’d been so proud of my little self for navigating through the morning, pride definitely came before a fall!  Got myself along the A4112 for a short while, then into a field where the footpath I was expecting was signposted – but could I find the exit from the field – could I heck.  Where was Ruth when I needed her eagle eyed stile spotting skills????  To and froed around the field for ages, before adopting another Dave practise – what’s the workround?  Luckily I could see that Mike had only put this bit in to avoid me having to walk any more of the A 4112 than I absolutely had to, just as a shortcut.  So I admitted defeat, headed back along the A road for only a short while and picked up the lane that way.  I toiled on up the lane and found my final footpath of the day – but as is so often the way, this was the one where you had to climb all the gates, get scratched to bits on overgrown stiles and battle the overgrown field margin in the final field.  Bloodied but unbowed, I emerged into another lane, took a left turn for Woonton and marched on.  I was nearly there when there was Mike, looking cool as a cucumber, walking up the road towards me.  I looked considerably less cool as the end of day photo shows;

Hot, tired but very happy!

Got a lift from Mike back to Monkland and when I got into the car the outside temperature was showing as thirty degrees – no wonder I got through a lot of water!!  Drove home celebrating the end of week one in the only way any sane woman would – by singing aloud to the Mamma Mia Here We Go Again CD all the way home.  Cathy – you had a very lucky escape!!