Offa’s Dyke Walk Day 4

by Sunita

We set off from Llangattock Lingoed with Miss Mary’s good wishes ringing in our ears and rain threatening but not falling. This was the day we would go up a steep hill to walk Hatterall Ridge, at the eastern edge of Brecon Beacons National Park. We first walked over the fields to Pandy, the childhood home of the philosopher, critic, and novelist Raymond Williams. His house is supposedly on the Path but it’s not well marked and I didn’t see it. Oh well.

It rained on us a bit early on, but the clouds were high as we started up:

It was a steep slope, over lots of fields. Part of the way up we were greeted by an Iron Age stone circle which had been a hill fort and settlement, occupied for hundreds of years:

At the top of that ridge we encountered the southernmost Trig marker on the ridge, so we knew we were near the top:

TheH and I both thought of his late father on this Father’s Day: he would have loved to see it, having spent part of his youth surveying mountains in the Alaska Range to build the Alaska-Canada Highway.

We finally made it to the top, where it was so windy that we were shoved off the path a couple of times. But the views!

That’s England, by the way. The ridge path marks the border, so to the right of the path is England and to the left is Wales. Wales was cloudier (surprise), with a couple of the higher Brecon Beacons peaks occasionally visible through the mist.

Some people walk the whole stage from Pandy to Hay-on-Wye in one day, but that’s 17 miles and we had started two miles east of Pandy to make it a total of 19. And come on, my chances of walking 18 miles up, across, and down a steep ridge in one day were nil. So we’d planned a break at a small village, Llanthony, down the western side, which was also the location of an old priory.

It was about two miles down a steep, rocky slope carved out of the side. I picked my way verrry slowly and carefully, and at one point was overtaken by a family with a small girl and a toddler in the father’s shoulder pack, all nimbly making their way down, in Wellies.

The priory looked impossibly far away at first but eventually drew closer:

And tlllThere is a posh hotel and restaurant right at Llanthony Priory, but its six rooms were booked. So we stayed at the village pub down the road, the Half Moon Inn, where we had a comfortable bed and good food and drink. It’s an old inn and you have to be prepared to share toilets and showers. And there is no internet or wifi, which some visitors find difficult. We didn’t.

Over pints of local ale and cider we deliberated the next day”s path. The way back up to the ridge was steep and stony to the point that the path even had switchbacks, a rarity here. But it was shorter than the road, and we didn’t fancy 13 miles of pavement. We decided to wait and see what the morning brought.

In the meantime we turned our thoughts to dinner (beef casserole for TheH, cod and chips and peas for me) and then crashed for the night.

Our day’s route: