It was about four months later that Dan and myself walked our next section of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail.
First Day, Monmouth to Pandy – 17 miles
This was one of my favourite days walking, it started well with a full English breakfast in Monmouth. It was perfect walking weather, sunny and warm but not too hot. It still felt like Spring with many flowers along the way, and the trees and hedgerows turning green. The miles just seemed to slip by as we walked through fields and rolling hills. It was not the most spectacular, but it had a pastoral calm that was much appreciated – ahhh, the great outdoors!
The highlight for me was White Castle. This is one of 3 castles built by Norman Marcher Lords to defend the English borders with Wales. We sat on the battlements to have our lunch and enjoyed the English/Welsh scenery contrast. White Castle has a full moat and many of its walls are still in tact giving a good idea of what it was like back in day.
Pandy to Hay-on-Wye. 17.5 miles
This day was similar to yesterday, fine and sunny. Again the miles just seemed to roll by. The major difference was that most of the walk is along Hatterall Ridge. There was a constant bitter wind blowing across it which still carried the edge of Winter.
The climb to Pandy to the Ridge is not consistent, there are a few ups and down but gradually you gain the height. On the way up we came across some interesting paintings on some trees. I’m really not sure what they were about, they had a bit of a pagan feel to them, maybe slightly eerie. There is one final steep climb to the Ridge and then a gradual ascent to the ridge top. At this point the wind started to really kick in and it was time to wrap up in our coats (or hydrotherm in my case). The walk along the Ridge is directly along the Welsh English border and the contrasting countryside is quite obvious. The rough, blue tainted and deep valleys on the Welsh side and the green gentle valleys and fields on the English. Each had their own beauty.
The Ridge is about 10 miles long and a great walk on a dry day, but if the weather was rough and wet you are very exposed and there is no where to shelter along the Hatterall Ridge. The guidebook suggests that if the weather is too bad that you drop down into the valley and walk along that instead. The ridge section ends at Hay Bluff, a steep promontory that commands a view of many miles making it a popular viewing point. From here the descent is quite steep dropping down into fields and country lanes for a few more miles to Hay-on-Wye, but fortunately it is also sheltered from the biting wind.
Hay-on-Wye is a lovely town with castle ruins and coffee shops! But it is obviously most well known for its book shops. We had a couple of hours to wander round and explore before our lift home arrived.
Tips about kit
I used a 20L rucksack and managed to stuff all I needed for the two days into that.
You will definitely need good walking boots because the variety of terrain in some parts is quite boggy, other bits being rocky and varied. You will need a lightweight waterproof that can be easily stashed away. First aid kit plus food and extra socks, all kept in dry bags as its almost certain to rain. In addition to this I just had my T-shirt and a Bergaus Hybrid Down jacket. I love the Hydrodown jacket as it is both warm, holding off the harshest of the winds on the ridge, plus it is light and stashable.
I go with the minimum of personal items and plan food carefully. As we were staying in a B&B we didn’t have to carry camping gear this time.
The next stage of the walk I did on my own because Dan was abroad. It was four days backpacking along Offa’s Dyke.