My friend Richard joined me today for a few days’ walking – it was odd, but nice, to have company after so many days spent walking by myself, and it was good to have someone to stop me dawdling on the uphill bits! Richard brought Alfie, a poodle-terrier-type mongrel with floppy ears and a very patient nature; I’m not hugely fond of dogs but both Rowan and Isaac soon fell in love.
The drive from our new campsite to Chepstow turned out to be a very long one, but eventually we were heading out past the castle and up onto the Offa’s Dyke Path. I’ve never walked the path before, and was relying on an ancient guidebook which I bought 20 years ago. I was relieved to find out that its predictions of hundreds of stiles and boggy paths were completely wrong, and after the overgrown footpaths of the last few days it was a relief to be on a well-groomed and waymarked national trail again.
We passed the famous ‘Wintour’s Leap’, where a Royalist pursued by Parliamentary forces supposedly leapt from a cliff to escape his pursuers, and duly admired the lovely views of the Wye valley beneath us, and then followed the path further north. Although my pre-conception was that the path follows the line of Offa’s Dyke itself, in fact this is only true in parts, and the majority of the path is nowhere near it. My other preconception was that the path would be full of amazing views over the surrounding countryside; in fact, it was pretty country but not spectacular for the first few days.
After a brief detour caused by hard-to-spot waymarking, we made it up to the Naval Temple on the Kymin, which is a lovely Victorian monument to lots of admirals; in true Victorian fashion it has proper ‘picturesque’ views over the Monmouth valley and is well worth a visit (you can drive up if you’re not feeling energetic!). Arran and the kids were playing on the immaculate lawns and, because it was getting late, we decided to cut the day a bit short and head for home,having first introduced Richard to the delights of dining at Weatherspoons (dinner for four for under £30 can’t be wrong) in Chepstow.
I did take a few photos of this stage but not many – I found that walking (and chatting) with someone else meant that I was paying much less attention to the landscape – but current internet access won’t allow me to post them. To be added later…
Highlights: The slightly strange feeling of walking with someone else after so long by myself; the view of Chepstow castle as we headed north across the bridge; bright sunlight through the leaves at the top of the Dyke; tree roots and leaf detritus; fruit pastilles and being mobbed by the kids on the Kymin at the end of the day.