Offa’s Dyke – 04/17

This was without a shadow of anyone’s doubt the hardest walk I have ever done. Yet again, I had gone in unprepared, whilst the ‘pensioners’ had been walking and trekking for months before this event to show me up.

I could only manage to take one day off as annual leave, so I joined in on the Sunday, which was a day off anyway as the store was closed. I joined the crew on the fourth day of four, which was the hardest – So I didn’t plan that very well at all!

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Our group selfie at the start of the trip in a convex mirror

We walked from Montgomery to Knighton. We were led by Rich whose ‘sublime’ leadership skills across these beautiful country hills were second to none, so I’d heard from the 3 previous days, but then we almost got lost after 3 or 4 minutes! It must have been the arrival of a fresh pair of legs which caused the confusion when reading the map.

We plodded on, mile after mile, after mile, after mile and a few more miles. Just when I thought we had suffered enough torture we came to a stand still. My eyes lit up like a small child on Christmas morning, but it was to my disappointment that we had in fact stopped for lunch, not finished the walk.

There is, however, a silver lining to every cloud, so I got stuck in and shovelled some energy into my mouth in the form of sandwiches, crisps, flapjacks and fruit.

Geno decided to do some ‘stretching’ before we set off, and the cliché of ‘one picture tells a thousand words’ really does come into play here…

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A little embarrassed by this, as you would expect, we finished lunch and carried on with the other 7 gruelling miles of this so-called ‘enjoyable’ walk.

We did encounter a few incidents on the way. The first was a little lamb who was trapped on some sort of grass verge, surrounded by fencing which consisted of several circular wooden posts and some harsh metal wiring. Rich and I were first on the scene, so we jumped over the basic fencing system to the mighty lambs aid.

Beckoning his mother in a nearby field, the little fella was clearly distressed. He could only assume that two English fell-walkers had trapped him and were trying to lure him in to an early bird dinner. After several minutes of persuasion with imitation farm-yard noises and chasing the lamb around this manmade enclosure, we finally managed to free Willy and release him into the wild.

It was only until we were marching down the road that Geno pointed out that the lamb was probably meant to be kept contained in that area; therefore us releasing the poor little fella would have led to his immediate death.

As you can imagine, that cheered us up.

Nevertheless, with a skewered lamb covered in mint sauce deeply embedded in our minds, we carried on. Next came incident number 2 – Julie’s irrational fear of cattle.

Geno and I were slightly ahead by 40-50 feet (15-20 metres), so we had the first view of these farmyard field veterans as we got over the brow of a small hill.

“Julie, your friends are here!” I shouted back, as her and Vicky walked sheepishly towards us, making their presence known towards the herd alongside them. Edging forward step-by-step, with faces like a couple of oldies passing cattle in a field, they passed the cattle in the field and braved the walk all on their own.

Felling resilient, empowered with a sense of achievement and with a newly found spring in their step after conquering a life-long fear, they managed to sit down, smile, and pose for a very good photo!

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Yet again, we packed in the miles, hour after hour, blister after blister and snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after snack after …

One of the crew had actually retired from the walk on the previous day. Shiela had been subject to sun for a long period of time. Given that they’d all been walking for 3 days in very intense heat, with little food, it had taken its toll on her; in the restaurant that same night she suffered some sort of turn and was taken home to Llanon.

Thankfully, she made a full recovery, but she was not to get away that lightly. I think she’d forgotten I had volunteered myself for this trip (after weeks of bullying, peer pressure and temptation with treats!) and given my sensitive nature and love for shenanigans and tomfoolery, we recreated the following photo to show her just how much we missed her on day 4.

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Enjoy the rest of the photos.

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