Offa’s Dyke walk Day 1

Our short walk last evening helped us get a sense of what the path would be like and how it was marked. But setting out for a 7+ mile day wearing backpacks which carry all our stuff is different. We had a lovely Full English breakfast food for sustenance and set out at 9:30 in a misty drizzle. As soon as we crossed the Chepstow bridge we started up a steepish lane to join the path at the same place where we had turned off the night before. I was panting in no time, which made me wonder about the rest of the journey. But I slowly adjusted and my backpack was comfortable.

The path does not always parallell Offa’s Dyke, despite the name, but in this opening section we spent a lot of time walking along it. It rises up to close to 20 feet in some places. We walked through fields and woods as well, and saw some spectacular scenery despite the rain:

We made one huge wrong turn in a field, which meant retracing our steps for about a mile out and back. And as the day progressed the rain became steadier and more penetrating. Even our waterproofs weren’t completely effective. But we kept going, squelching through the mulch and mud. When we arrived at the lookout just before the Devil’s Pulpit, though, the rain began pouring down and we could barely see Tintern Abbey through the mist and rain.

We were lucky to be under the canopy of a huge old tree, so we waited out the worst of it and went on to the Devil’s Pulpit.

We missed our turnoff to the path that would take us to the village of Tintern, but realized our error more quickly this time and doubled back. The footpath down hadn’t been described as particularly difficult, but it was rocky and occasionally quite steep, and the torrential rains of the last week had turned the upper parts into a creek. Thank goodness for gaiters over waterproof hiking shoes. And did I mention it was still raining?

After a somewhat grisly 45 minutes or so we made it down to the Tintern bridge and walked the remaining half mile to our night’s lodging, where we were welcomed with tea and cake. We rested, cleaned up, and walked backed to the Abbey for a closer look:

The Parva Farmhouse, where we stayed, is famous for its restaurant. We had booked dinner and were rewarded with a splendid meal. Needless to say, we slept well. Miles of hiking seemed to vanquish any jet lag.

Tomorrow, on to Monmouth. I’m holding up well but we have 6 days to go. The scenery and sense of being in a timeless place are well worth the effort. Here’s the map of our day, complete with the morning’s wrong-turn detour: