I began the day by leaving Knighton, the Offa’s Dyke path and Wales, all by crossing the bridge by the railway station. As I headed off, I heard someone shouting my name – it was Israel, who had interrupted his breakfast when I walked past his B&B, wishing me luck on my onward journey.
It was a drizzly, bleargh sort of day, but a very enjoyable walk. I was feeling full of energy and bounce, and although I had enjoyed the Welsh ‘bit’ of the trail, I was excited to be heading towards the Peak District and the Pennines. The day started with a pleasant walk through woods (excuse slightly blurred photo), and some equally pleasant fields.
Then the route headed up onto Stow Hill, which was amazing – all of a sudden Knighton was far behind (and below) and it felt very remote and wild, with views over the valley and no sound but the sheep and the wind.
It was then a short ‘stroll’ (more wading through armpit-deep nettles, brambles and cow parsley in a tiny fenced-off path, ohh how I’ve missed this experience) to Hopton Titterhill (good tracks, mainly because the whole area seems to have been given over to mountain biking) and then down to Hopton Castle, which was an extremely pretty village full of half-timbered houses and climbing roses. I had lunch sitting on the steps of the castle, which is free to enter and has interesting noticeboards up about its siege during the Civil War.
After lunch I headed past more fields of crops – apologies for yet more photos of wheat but I really like the way fields of grain look – before stopping for a cup of tea at the very highly recommended Rocke Cottage tea rooms in Abcott. It is a recreation of a 1930s tearoom, with ‘guest teas’ and some excellent cake.
It started to rain in earnest as I headed towards Craven Arms and I got soaked, in a proper wet-trousers-sticking-to-me sort of way, but I managed to stick to my original plan of going past Craven Arms to make tomorrow’s walk a little shorter, and headed up the river to Strefford, a tiny but pretty village about 2 miles further on.
On the way I passed this delightfully dedicated bench; whoever he was, he was clearly loved.
Finished the day soaked through but in good spirits.
Highlights: heading northeast; the silence on the top of Stow Hill; perhaps my raincoat isn’t quite as waterproof as hoped; excellent coffee and walnut cake and Golden Monkey tea; dripping leaves and puddles on the road; changing into warm dry clothes in the car.