Friday, 29 March 2013

Offa's Dyke Path - Day 8: Knighton to Kington

Friday 29th March 2013

A long walk through deep snow on the English/Welsh border with excellent views

Distance: 22km; Ascent: 730m; Dry but mostly overcast with a bitter wind; Solo

My original plans for an Easter backpack in the wild mid-Wales hills were shelved due to the recent heavy snowfall and the prolonged cold weather as I decided I didn't fancy three nights wild camping in the snow. So instead I decided to return to the Offa's Dyke Path for a few days, which meant could stay in the warm overnight.

Knighton Clock Tower
Knighton in the snow
I stepped off the train at Knighton to find several inches of snow still lying on the platform; this was a sign of things to come! Walking through the town was easy due to the roads and pavements having been cleared of snow, but I was soon ascending through some very wintry woods. As I gained height the depth of soft snow increased to around a foot, but luckily there was a clear trail of footprints to follow.

Snow on the edge of Knigton Golf Course
Gate half-buried by snow
I continued southwards along the Offa's Dyke Path, where the snow lay so deep that it was possible to easily step over the gates - well it was certainly easier to do that rather than trying to open the gates, which would have probably required a snow shovel to achieve!

Looking south along the Offa's Dyke Path near Rhos-y-merich
A good trail through the snow brought me to the road at Rhos-y-meirch, which had been completely cleared of snow.  A short road walk followed, before rejoining the Offa's Dyke through some deep snow.  Soon I reached the road again where I chatted to a family who had been sledging on the nearby hill.

Obelisk north of Hawthorn Hill
I then passed within a few hundred metres of an obelisk, which commemorated Sir Richard Green-Price according to my Offa's Dyke Path guidebook.  Soon I stopped for lunch in the shelter provided by a small forestry plantation, before continuing on up Hawthorn Hill.  Here the snow depth varied considerably with much of the dyke almost completely clear of snow, whereas in some places it had drifted so much that entire fences and gates were engulfed with only small section poking up above the snow!

Offa's Dyke on Hawthorn Hill
Snow drifts covering a fence on Hawthorn Hill
There were reasonable prints in the deep snow to follow on the descent from Hawthorn Hill.  There were also at least a couple of sets of ski tracks too - clearly some people had been out ski touring up here recently!  After crossing the road at Dolley Green, the path ascended yet another hill before entering the shelter of Granner Wood, where snow lay heavily on the trees.

Snowy tree in Granner Wood
A pleasant descent then followed to reach the English border just south of Ditchyeld Bridge, only a few kilometres north of Kington, which lay beyond a small group of hills.  A reasonable path made for an easy snowy ascent up onto Herrock Hill Common.

Looking SW from Herrock Hill Common
Here I headed east for around a kilometre in a bitterly cold wind, following the Offa's Dyke over Rushock Hill; again here the wind had blown much of the snow off the top of the dyke.

Offa's Dyke on Rushock Hill
I was glad to leave the dyke and escape the bitter wind as I began to descend towards Kington.  After crossing several fields, I entered Kington Golf Course on Bradnor Hill - I doubted that there had been much golf played here in recent weeks!

Kington golf course on Bradnor Hill
My original plan was to detour up to the summit of Bradnor Hill around a kilometre from the Offa's Dyke Path, but I was quite exhausted from having spent the day walking through the snow that I instead opted to descend straight to Kington and the warm, friendly surroundings of The Royal Oak pub, where I stayed for the night.  It had been a good day and after a pizza and a couple of pints of Wye Valley beer, I was ready for an early night at shortly after 9pm! 

N.B. 03/06/13 - Post date updated to actual date of walk, i.e. 29/03/13 (from 09/04/13) 


  1. Wye Valley Beer! A highlight of the ODP!

    I've got an idea we ate in the Royal Oak on our ODP. Not so much snow as you, though!

    1. Yes it is indeed a highlight of the route! I drank Wye Valley Beer all three evenings over the Easter weekend :-)