Day 90 -Stiles aplenty & a bountiful Welsh harvest

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
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Trip End Nov 18, 2010


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Where I stayed
The Manse B&B

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Friday, September 17, 2010

We woke after a disturbed night on a bed, somewhat akin to a trampoline. Every time one of us turned over, the other one rebounded around.  At least we did not have to put up with the pesky blowfly, which lay squashed in the waste bin, Keith's definitive success for yesterday.  The kindly Mrs. Jones serves up our scrambled eggs, it appears she’s forgotten the bacon but oh well, it doesn’t matter.  We are more interested by the wonderful sight of buzzards circling high in the sky while we eat.  It has been raining hard for a good part of the night, but we walk off at 9.10 in a lovely clear light, bright sunshine with the trees dripping on the sodden ground around us.  Today, like so many others, sees us within 10 minutes heading directly uphill as we go through the woodland surrounding Selattyn Hill.  Immediately we encounter a number of stiles, and although we didn’t realise it at this early stage of the day, stiles in great number were to stay with us the entire day.

Once again we have the company of Offa’s Dyke and we are soon walking along the top of it.   We continue our uphill climb heading up Baker’s Hill (351m) where we arrive at the radio mast which precedes Racecourse Common.  The name refers to Oswestry Racecourse which was established here around 1800 and became quite an important part of the local social calendar.  Race weeks used to be lively affairs with balls and festivities as the Lords and gentlemen of the area rode in the various races.  The area has today a lovely feel and look about it.  It’s somewhere you could imagine being very happy to live.  The only remnant of the racecourse today is the ruins of the stone built grandstand, which was constructed around 1804.  Unfortunately by the 1840’s 'outsiders and horse owners from the lower classes’ were winning the races and rowdy behaviour began to disrupt the meetings, causing lower attendances and drastically reducing the traders and operators profits. These bloody lower classes bringing life down again!!!  It  seems as the railways rolled out, it was easier to send the horses to Chester by train to race and so racing was finally abandoned in 1848.  All that remains today is this beautiful common land and the name.

We walk down from Racecourse Common and through Racecourse Wood, once again following the Dyke.  Somehow in the thick woodland, we lose the path and take a detour, which adds distance to today’s journey.  It is remarkable that we managed to lose the path, because until now we had felt it was so clearly marked that you’d have to be a blind man without a stick to lose your way.  It just goes to show you must always be on guard on a long distance walk.  Once back on the path we cross the River Morda (could this have been an influence on Tolkein’s name for the centre of Evil in Middle Earth?) and then it’s back uphill climbing again on the back of the Dyke. 

By 12.15 we enter the small village of Trefonen and here we take time out for an early lunch, because it is the only place on today’s walk where we will find civilisation.  We sit peacefully in sunshine on a wall on the outside of the village, carefully placed to be hidden from local residents.  Debby makes up our cheese and tomato sandwiches, with one of the best loaves we’ve been able to buy in Britain so far, purchased at the single shop in this village.   We dallied 45 minutes over lunch today, a little longer than our normal rest and then we were back on the track and yes, going uphill again.  To scale the summit of Moelydd (285m)  with great 360 degree views, including to Snowdonia in the west.  Although 285 mtrs might not sound very high, there is no doubt  we are now feeling the climbs more than we were a few weeks ago, particularly those encountered in the afternoons.  Fortunately nature offers a bountiful harvest today, and we are presented with late wild raspberries, a fine crop of blackberries, Victoria plums and a Damson tree so heavily laden with ripe fruit that Keith eats a good half a kilo.

We descend from this peak through Jones Rough Nature Reserve, a lovely small wood with lots of yew and hazel trees.  As we descend, Keith, leading as usual, hears Debby cry out and turns to see her on the ground.  After a short delay to regain her poise, she is up and walking again.  Once again we are so lucky that in twisting her ankle on a rock today, she has done no lasting damage.  It was just the same yesterday, when Keith trod at an angle on a wet wooden step and fell down in the late afternoon.  Although his left calf muscle twinges, there appeared no other damage.  We are both so conscious that in the second half of the day, as our bodies tire more quickly nowadays, falls and injuries are more possible and therefore more care must be taken.  

One final ascent stands between us and our destination for the night, and we climb up the brief but steep incline through a bluebell wood on a path which comes out along the Offa’s Dyke up to the top of Llanymynech Hill (226m).  Once this is complete it simply remains to wonder down across a number of stiles into our small village for the night.  We chat to a couple of locals who give us some advice on where to eat for the evening, as they marvel at the walk we are pursuing.  They are walkers who are also in the process of walking Offa’s Dyke Path, but they are doing it in two day bite sized chunks.  We carry on into the village and arrive at the gentle afternoon hour of 4 pm.  Our B&B at The Manse provides a glorious sunshine filled room with a bathroom.  We are both very tired and Debby immediately sinks into a restorative hot bath.  Keith simply collapses on the bed, feeling quite buggered, not sure why today should have taken so much out of him. 

We head across the road to the Bradford Arms for dinner at about 7.30 by which time a little strength has returned to our bodies.  Debby made an unfortunate choice of Roast Pork that was not worth the journey across the road.  Keith meanwhile had a classic fish pie.  We were soon fast asleep.
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Comments

Morag on

Maybe it was all those damsons Keith that tired you out!And what other effects i hate to imagine!

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