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Offa’s Dyke Walk Day 3

We left Monmouth in a drizzle. We made our way out of the town without mishap and walked through fields and woods. This was our first really long walk, with 15 miles lying between us and our destination. The rain intensified to cloudburst level at one point, but by the time we approached the village of Hendre it had stopped. We found the field through which we were to leave the road, but it wasn’t clear which way to cross it to get to the gate to our next field, and it was seriously muddy, with not just animals in residence but also large equipment and some structures. We were standing there, trying to figure out where to go, when a group of three walkers joined us. We perused our maps and guides, picked a direction, and set off through what proved to be a complete mudpit. We are talking 2-5 inches of pure mud. Almost no grass mixed in, just a quagmire of sticky brown goo.And the direction we chose turned out to be wrong. So we spread out across the perimeter and eventually found the path gate, hidden behind some farm stuff. That took us through two or three more fields, also muddy but not nearly as bad. When we finally read the last field before we came out on a road, there was a sign taped to the gate suggesting that walkers use an alternate route because of muddy conditions. Gosh, yes, what a good idea. If only they had had a sign on the far gate.After that it was much easier. We passed through field after field with the occasional small village. No shops or pubs but we had provisioned ourselves. We had lunch with a view:Then we were on our way, crossing brooks and rivers and fields. We drew the attention of a herd of cows, who lined up to survey us:As you can see, the rain had cleared and the sun had come out. It was gorgeous: Not too warm with a lovely breeze. But 15 miles is a lot, and we kept plodding along, including through wheat fields:When passed the White Castle, we knew it was mostly downhill from there.Finally, 15.5 miles later, we were at our destination. But there was a problem. Our reserved room was not available. The hosts were extremely apologetic and had made arrangements for us to stay at a nearby b&b, which they would drive us to. There was nothing to be done and all we wanted was a place to stay, so we said thank you and got into the car. Our host took us to a house a few minutes away, and I recognized the name as one I’d seen in the Offa’s Dyke website under accommodations. It was a spectacular location, with a panoramic view from the edge of the mountain where we’d be heading tomorrow around to a good 180 degrees east.Miss Mary W., our substitute hostess, was from a five-generations old Welsh farming family. When her generation sold the farm, she and her mother kept a few acres and built a house for themselves. At 82, Miss Mary still runs her b&b, tends her large garden, and feeds her guests with eggs from her own chickens. Everyone in her village of Llangattok Lingoed knows her and she can get a table in the nearby pub’s excellent restaurant whether it’s fully booked or not. Which she did for us.In the morning she fed us a splendid breakfast with the aforementioned eggs, gave us sandwiches and homemade Welsh cakes for the road, and drove us back to the path. It was raining, of course, but we could still glimpse some of her view:

Offa’s Dyke Walk Day 2

We said goodbye to Tintern and set off for our next destination, Monmouth. The first little bit was on the road because we had to make our way back to the path. The path split at Brockweir and we took the lower path along the Wye for three miles, disturbing sheep along the way and passing the village of Llandogo.When the paths converged again we started up the road into the hills. The uphill wasn’t too bad and we passed through several woods as well as farm fields. The foliage and flowers were gorgeous, and the rain had made the undergrowth especially rich. We are seeing these flowers everywhere:We only made one wrong turn, going down when we should have gone across because the acorn sign was unclear (there are lots of marked footpaths which aren’t the Offa’s Dyke Path and they converge as well as intersect). But it was short and easy to recover.Today had some major ups and downs in the path. We went down sharply for a good mile to enter the village of Redbrook, which rewarded us with a delicious pub lunch. But then we had a two-mile ascent to the top of the ridge. There we reached the Kyrim, which overlooks Monmouth and offers spectacular views of the Wye Valley. It also features a monument to British Admirals in the Napoleonic Wars (readers of historicals will recognize several names!):And a round white house built in the Georgian era:From there it was all downhill to Monmouth for a couple of miles. The path we excellent and it would have been straightforward except for the mud. So much mud. But we went slowly and our shoes (and gaiters) could manage it. Nevertheless, we were so happy to see the end of the path, and lo and behold, our hotel was at the end of it. It was a pub with recently remodeled, very comfortable rooms.We went into Monmouth for dinner, thinking that Friday night would give us a range of options. But many of the Central City restaurants had already stopped serving. We found a Chinese restaurant down a little passageway, though, and struck gold. Everything fresh and made to order. We had a kimchi pancake for starters and then shared shredded pork with chiles and kimchi fries rice. So, so good, and a lovely couple running it.I leave you with the day’s map. Notice our wrong turn was much smaller this time!QToday’s mileage: 11.6 or 11.9, depending on whose Garmin you ask.