Over the weekend of 15 to 17 May twenty two of us met up in Pandy for the next leg of Offa’s Dyke. Most of us were staying at the Park Hotel with others at local B&Bs. Although the weather forecast was not too good for the weekend, we were all optimistic that we would have two days of good walking.
Newchurch to Hay Bluff: 10.3 miles (16.6km) +554m -358m (16 May 2009)
We all gathered outside the Park Hotel at 8am to be taken to Newchurch which was where we had ended the previous weekend.
The walking was relatively easy and as we crossed the bridge into Hay-on-Wye, memories flooded back as we saw signs for the Wye Valley Walk.
After passing through Hay the walking became more difficult as we approached Hay Bluff. The wind got up and it started to rain. Was this a portent of the day to come?
We had made good time and arrived at the base of Hay Bluff early. Unfortunately this meant that we had to wait for the mini buses in the cold wind and rain. However, they arrived early and took us back to Pandy via the Gospel Pass.
When we got back to the hotel I was greeted with a surprise birthday cake, as I had passed 60 two days earlier.
Hay Bluff to Pandy: 12.9 miles (20.8km) +656m -972m (17 May 2009)
This morning the weather forecast was even worse and it rained all through breakfast but when we boarded the mini bus the rain had abated and there were some clear patches of sky overhead.
The first part of the walk was up Hay Bluff which wasn’t as bad as some of us had feared. It only took about 45 minutes. From the trig point we walked on for a short distance until we reached the highest point of the ridge (700m) where we had a coffee stop.
After a few minutes it started to rain so we all packed up and continued the walk along Hatterall Ridge. Then the rain got heavier and the wind, which was in our faces, got stronger. Our pace was quite fast over the path which had been paved with stone slabs but we slowed down later as we reached boggier sections of the path.
As there was no shelter we kept on going and didn’t have lunch until about 3pm after 4 hours and 9 miles of ridge walking. In all this time we had only lost just over 100m of height.
We found some shelter down the side of the ridge and the rain abated for a time. Lunch did not take long as we were getting very cold. We headed on and finally started to loose some height and came out of the wet and cold cloud.
The final hour of the walk was quite pleasant as we were out of the rain and the sun came out which meant that when we returned to the hotel at about 4:30pm at least our outer clothes were dry.
The final act of the weekend was the mandatory cream tea, with a piece of birthday cake, which was most welcome.
Some day I must walk this section again when the weather is better and I will be able to see the views over the Black Mountains.
Total for the weekend: 23.2 miles:
Total around Wales: 101.3 miles