Offa’s Dyke Path – Schedule

DayStartFinishDistance (Km)Distance (Miles)Ascent (m)
  Chepstow   
1ChepstowMonmouth2817.401,089
2MonmouthPandy26.116.22585
3PandyHay on Wye26.116.22850
4Hay on WyeKington23.814.79698
5KingtonKnighton20.712.86728
6KnightonMontgomery30.2518.801,146
7MontgomeryLlanymynech31.3719.49502
8LlanymynechChirk23.814.79826
9*ChirkLlandegla27.617.15783
10*LlandeglaBodfari28.717.831,280
11*BodfariPrestatyn18.711.62725
Some tough days and some tougher days. Stage 5 looks good though.
* With special guest – The Mountain Goat

Here is the schedule for the upcoming walk. A total of 9,216 metres ascent – that’s higher than Everest!

Less busy though….

Offa’s Dyke Path – Take 2 – Spring 2020

A quick update to let my avid followers (all three of you) know that I will be commencing the Offa’s Dyke Path (ODP) at the end of April. As with Glyndwr’s Way two years ago, I’m going to walk it all in one trip. I’ll set out Northwards from Chepstow on Thursday 30th April and, if all goes to plan, I should arrive at Prestatyn ten days ( and 177 miles) later.

I’ll add some more detail in a few weeks time….

 

OFF a’s Dyke path – starting next week CANCELLED

The path is somewhere under the River Severn for the most part so will be rescheduling.

A quick ‘heads up’ for those of you who take an interest in my walking exploits. I’ve just finalised the plans for starting walking Offa’s Dyke path, commencing next Friday.

Accommodation was a bit of an issue, due to the secluded nature of this section of the route but it’s now in place for the first weekend!

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I’m not starting at the beginning. I’m not even starting at the end. Given the restriction of only having a long weekend and being keen to start making some progress, I’ve had to plan it around railway stations.

To that end, I’m getting the train to Knighton next Friday morning and walking the 16 miles to Buttington, where I’ll be camping for the first night on any of my long distance walks.

The Bluebell in the village is meant to be a cracking old pub so I’ll hopefully be able to pay a visit on Friday evening – after I’ve recovered from the hilliest section of the entire walk!

On Saturday, basically down to a lack of camping availability, I’ll be walking about 20 miles to Four Crosses and staying in The Golden Lion. A bit further than I wanted to walk but very flat for most of the way as it follows the Severn.

On Sunday, I’m hoping to make Chirk station to catch the 16:00 train back to Shrewsbury. It’s about 16 miles again so should be achievable.

My long term plan for completing the trail is to take a week off, probably in autumn, and get a train to Chepstow. This is where the walk officially starts and in a week I can walk from there to Knighton, where I started. That will mean I can then, at a later date, finish the walk to Prestatyn ‘properly’ in a long weekend, via Llandegla and Bodfari. This will hopefully be next spring.

Sorry if this is a bit confusing – the bottom line is, I’ll be posting next Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

If anyone is wondering whether the Mountain Goat will be joining me on Offa’s Dyke, unfortunately not initially, though he may put in an appearance in the ‘special guest’ slot.

Plans, however, are taking shape for a joint assault on the next challenge : ‘The Mountain Connoisseur’s Walk’ The Cambrian Way.

All comments welcomed – check back next Friday.

Coast to Coast Stage 12 – Littlebeck to Robin Hood’s Bay

Intake Farm had won the warmest welcome award on Thursday evening on our arrival and Judith, our host, even had Sainsbury’s Rooibos teabags available (my favourite).

Having been shown to our room, and settled in, they also had a contender for the best shower on the entire route.

I had misgivings when Ian told me we were booked to stay on a working farm, especially with me having asked for a vegan meal but Judith, our host, could not have been more friendly. The evening meal on the Thursday and breakfast on Friday morning were spot on.

The personal service we received throughout was also second to none and entirely genuine.As a relatively new, but committed, vegan I obviously experienced some personal contradictions but, when it all comes down, nice people are nice people.

On a glorious Friday morning, boasting a cloudless sky, Judith led us to the farm gate and pointed us in the right direction.We descended into Littlebeck village and then into the wood which was idyllic with rays of early morning sun breaking through the trees. The first way point on the map was the hermitage :

… Quickly followed by Falling Foss waterfall…

A short climb on a stretch of road led us to the first stretch of moorland. There were patches labelled as “boggy” in the guidebook and we had to pick our way over the last bit. Socks were kept dry up to this point but there was a sense of trepidation as the next section of moorland was labeled “very boggy”. They weren’t wrong but by taking our time and picking our foot placements (the white ‘straw’ bits are usually your friend) we were able to get through the last moorland stretch relatively unscathed.

There had been skylark and (the sound of) lapwing up to this point and the distant call of curlew but just at the end of the section a curlew took flight just in front of us.

Leaving the moors behind, the authors of the guide book promised the first Robin Hood’s Bay sign and they did not deceive:

A short road section and a walk through a caravan site then led us to the coastal path!

We quickened our pace here, almost involuntarily, as the finish line beckoned. The scenery was amazing and the going easy underfoot.

The coastal cinder path eventually gave way to the B&B heartland of Upper Bay which, a minute’s walk further on, led to the tumble down lane leading to Robin Hood’s Bay.

I was reminded of childhood summer holidays in Polperro in Cornwall and a more recent visit to Clovelly in Devon.

At the bottom of the hill lay the harbour and the accepted end of Wainwright’s unofficial Coast to Coast walk, The Bay Hotel.

We resisted the temptation to head straight to the bar of the Bay and instead took the few steps further to the water’s edge to deposit our pebbles, as required by the accepted traditions.

These pebbles were acquired on St Bees beach in June 2017, when we started our Coast to Coast adventure. I must point out however that Ian had to drop a ‘Ronnie Wood’ (a replacement Stone), as he had left his original one at home.

We were expecting to be treated with bemusement by the RHB tourists milling round but quite a few seemed familiar with the traditions and spoke to us after seeing us drop our pebbles at the waterfront. The barman in the Bay Hotel (excellent veggie curry) also enquired as to how long the walk had taken us.

Another visitor asked is if we’d like him to take our picture in front of the finish line plaque:

And that was the Coast to Coast. Thanks for following my blog – I hope you found it interesting and somewhat amusing. The walk was something I’ve wanted to do for years and I’d recommend it to anyone. We were incredibly lucky with the weather – I think we had an hour of rain over the entire 192 mile walk! I’d probably make a few adjustments to the route and itinerary if I was to walk it again however – I’d certainly break up the Richmond to The Lion Inn stretch differently. The walk from The Lion Inn onwards however is fantastic.

I can’t finish without a word for IW (the mountain goat), my companion for the 192 miles. Having walked Glyndwr’s Way on my own last summer it was great to have someone to walk with, have a laugh with and generally be able to pick each other up when it got to be a bit of a slog. We’ll reminisce for the rest of our lives over the trek from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay – hats off sir, hats off!

Coast to Coast Stage 11 – The Lion Inn to Intake Farm, Littlebeck

That’s more like it!

A real return to form from AW with today’s stage. One of the best day’s walking for a long time.

Breakfast at The Lion didn’t quite live up to the vegan burger of the night before but it was filling and set us up for the day. We were looking to get a relatively early start anyway so didn’t linger too long.

A little bit of road walking to start the day but there were curlew and lapwing flying in the moorland either side of the road so I was more than happy.

Fat Betty, an old stone cross (as seen above), was the first target of the day. The weather was perfect and there were lots of birds around, including skylarks and also an interesting caterpillar that I’m hopeful one of the naturalists can identify?

After another mile or so we left the road behind to take a fantastic Morland path through Great Fryup Dale!

More beautiful moorland paths for the next hour or so, leading us towards Glaisdale where there was a post office, shop and toilets!

We stopped for ten minutes or so before heading on with a change of terrain as we headed into woodland with a short, sharp climb taking us away from the River Esk. After leaving the woods a short road section took us to a set of stepping stones.

This was now Egton Bridge and we knew we had plenty of time in hand (for a change). We popped into St Hedda’s Church which had an unusual stained glass window commemorating Nicholas Postgate, a Catholic martyr in the C17th.

After leaving the church we were heading past Egton Manor when we said hello to a lady walking a doberman. After walking past, she turned round and asked us if we were walking the Coast to Coast. At this stage I wondered if we had taken the wrong path and were on private property. I was also wondering if I could outrun either the doberman or Ian (either would suffice but neither seemed likely).

It transpired however that she was thinking of setting up some camping pods in the grounds of the Manor House for walkers and asked if we thought they would be popular. We gave it a big thumbs up and said it sounded like a great plan. I can picture us walking past in a couple of years with her nailing up a For Sale sign and mumbling something about “Bloody Scousers”.

The road through the estate took us to the outskirts of Grosmont. We thought we deserved a pint at The Station Tavern as they were getting the North Yorks Moors Railway ready next to the pub.

After leaving Grosmont you are met by a nasty climb of about 250 metres before a mile or so of more beautiful moorland – lots more lapwings displaying and calling here.

A walk down the farm track brought us to Intake Farm where we were given a warm welcome and made to feel at home. They can also boast of the best shower on the route so far!

Only 11 miles to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay tomorrow.

Coast to Coast Stage 10 – Ingleby Cross to The Lion Inn

State of play at the start of Stage 10

Another long day in the field. Ended up being a bit shorter than yesterday but with lots more ups and downs – 1,344 metres of ascent as opposed to 340 metres yesterday.

Fortunately all the climbing came in the first 15 miles and the last 8 miles were flat. So at least the legs were (relatively) fresh for the climbing.

Unfortunately Steve Hart, Atkinson’s finest coach driver, was unable to meet us for our prearranged drink after a work over-run.

We left The Bluebell at Ingleby Cross just after 09:00 following a very good breakfast. We had been royally looked after the previous evening – they opened the pub just for us after a mix up with the booking.

The walk started with a climb up through woodland to pick up the Cleveland Way. As this is a recognized National Trail the waymarking and general path condition was far superior to the Coast to Coast which is an unofficial route.

We were again walking through woodland and there were lots of chiffchaff singing and an unconfirmed willow warbler. The only people we saw up to this point were a young couple walking in the same direction who were going at a more leisurely pace than us.

A sharp descent brought us to Lordstones Cafe where we enjoyed a large pot of Yorkshire Tea (Yorkshire Quality).

As we were about to leave, the young couple from earlier turned up and we struck up a conversation. They are from Cologne and walking the C2C in more bite sized (and sensible) stages.

We generally did our bit for Anglo-European relations, at this fraught time. Ian pointed out to them that Cologne and Liverpool are twinned but thankfully didn’t mention Tony Woodcock.

There followed three climbs and descents of about 120 metres which took it out of the old legs. We then levelled out for the last eight or so miles. There was a splendid topographical memorial to Alec Falconer at the top of one of the climbs

The sunlit lowlands of Middlesbrough (my Alma Mata) were laid out below us in the distance and I was delighted to make out the Transporter Bridge – happy days.

There were lots of Red Grouse now appearing with their distinctive and somewhat comical call. I had heard two or three curlew but only caught a glimpse of one disappearing behind a hill.

A little further on I heard another curlew quite distinctly and after a quick scan round spotted it sitting on a nearby ridge of grass. I managed to have a quick look through the binoculars before it settled out of view.

After another hour or so of pleasant moorland walking we then joined an old railway line which would lead us virtually to our destination, The Lion Inn.

Dear Lord the last stretch, along the railway line, was unremitting in its tediousness. I did however see a solitary lapwing and another Curlew, in flight this time.

A short-cut off the trail saved us about half a mile to the pub. After a well earned pint I was overjoyed to find a bath tub in our room and took full advantage. I was also delighted that they had three vegan mains on the menu.

A much more manageable 17 miles tomorrow!

Coast to Coast Stage 10 – Richmond to Ingleby Cross

It is with a weary hand that I hold my phone to type this missive. Twenty three miles over what is generally considered to be the dullest stage of the C2C. You will hear no argument on that front from room 5 of the Bluebell Inn. You will hear thunderous snoring in a couple of hours – and that’s covered by the Wilco guarantee.

Having rendezvoused in Darlington and having the good fortune to catch the bus to Richmond driven by a young man channelling the spirit of Alain Prost, we arrived in time to check in at our B&B and get out for a couple of pints before retiring.

In the morning, after a filling breakfast and great black coffee, we set off just after 09:00. Richmond Castle was the first checkpoint of the day – towering over the footpath on the other side of the Swale.

We were making good progress, it was perfect walking weather – dry, no wind and nice and cool.

After the first twenty minutes or so Ian declared that we had now left the Neutral Zone and Christian Prudhomme had stuck his head out of the sunroof and waved his flag!

There was a noticeable change in waymarking and path conditions as we approached Bolton on Swale. On notice on a gate stated:

  • Keep dogs on leads
  • Don’t cut across the field
  • Pick up after your dog
  • Take your litter home
  • Enjoy your walk

I made the last one up…. They probably wanted to say it but there wasn’t room after writing all the orders.

Bolton was however very picturesque:

We were now faced with four miles of road walking to Danby Wiske but, as I’ve noted before, road walking is dull but you do cover the miles quickly.

The hedgerows had all been chopped back ruthlessly and they were eerily silent. You would expect to see and hear lots of bird activity at this time of year – all a bit worrying to be honest.

The whole walk was pretty disappointing on the bird front. A greater spotted woodpecker and a solitary redwing being the highlights. There were lots of rabbits though!

We had been pre-warned that the White Swan at Danby Wiske probably wouldn’t be open and that turned out to be the case. We had a bite to eat from our supplies on the neat village green and continued on our way with about eight miles to go to Ingleby Cross.

This was much of the same – fields and roads, fields and roads. We had been walking towards the Cleveland hills for the last few hours and they were looming larger now. We could also now hear lots of traffic.

Then came the realization that with legs aching from 22 miles of walking, we now had to take our lives in our hands and attempt to cross 5 lanes of the A19. The guide book recommended taking your time and then running like hell. We followed their advice!

We finally reached The Bluebell and were given a warm welcome and beer! The evening meal was tasty and filling as well. The room was compact but warm and I filled one of the thoughtfully provided hot water bottles and moved it from calves to quad’s to shoulder to try to ease the tiredness a little.

Only the same distance to walk tomorrow – just with more ups and downs. Still, The Lion Inn will be our reward!

Coast to Coast – a summary so far.

I thought I’d clarify where we are on our journey following Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk, from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay, how we got here and what we still have to do this week.

In June 2017, me and Ian (referred to on this blog as ‘the mountain goat’ due to his ability to ascend every hill seemingly effortlessly) took the train to St Bees on a Saturday morning and began our trek.

On the Saturday afternoon we completed the coastal section of ‘day one’ of the usual itinerary to shorten the distance on Sunday and allow us to make it to Black Sail Hut, a legendary youth hostel in the Lake District, by Sunday evening. This we duly did and it was well worth the effort.

On the Monday we completed another long section to Grasmere – this was probably the toughest day so far.

Tuesday was a nice short section to Patterdale which allowed us to take the high route option over Helvellyn and Swirral Edge.

Wednesday was another long but easier day to Shap and on Thursday we completed our first section by walking to Kirkby Stephen where we were able to catch trains back home the next morning.

Then, last July, we returned by train to Kirkby Stephen and walked three sections in two days, firstly to Keld on the Friday and then onward to Reeth and then Richmond on the (long, hot) Saturday.

We are now returning to Richmond for one final section.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will (hopefully) walk 23 miles to Ingleby Cross, followed by 21 miles on Wednesday to the Lion Inn at Kirkbymoorside. Thursday should be a more leisurely affair with a mere 17 miles to Littlebeck. Then, finally, on Friday morning, a veritable hop, skip and a jump of 11 miles to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay.

We’ve allowed ourselves an hour or so at RHB to refresh a little before catching a bus to Scarborough to catch trains home.

Coming soon – last four stages of coast to coast.

The long wait is almost over….

Eight months after progressing as far as Richmond on the Coast to Coast walk, the mountain goat and I have finally got around to arranging the last four stages to Robin Hood’s Bay. The train tickets and accommodation are all booked, the training has commenced and I’ve found my west coast pebble from the beach at St Bees – which is destined to be deposited on the east coast at Robin Hood’s Bay, as tradition dictates.

It will come as no surprise that we have compressed the remaining distance into four stages instead of five – a night’s accommodation saved for one thing. This means that we will have three successive days of over 20 miles followed by a (relatively) easy trek of 12 miles into RHB on the last morning.

Just because the IT contractor market is on its arse doesn’t mean that I should be sat on mine…

So all being well, on the evening of Tuesday 26th of March, I’ll post the first update – Richmond to Ingleby Cross. Hopefully we’ll be in the Bluebell Inn (with an old friend of the choir) rehydrating after a long day in the field.

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