Saturday, 30 March 2013

Offa's Dyke Path - Day 9: Kington to Hay-on-Wye

Saturday 30th March 2013 

Another snowy day on the Offa's Dyke Path over Hergest Ridge and other hills near the Welsh border

Distance: 24.5km; Ascent: 900m; Dry with occasional sunny spells and a chilly wind; Solo

After an excellent breakfast I set off walking around 9:30am in the sunshine :-)  I ascended gradually along the icy Ridgebourne Road past Hergest Croft Gardens to reach the edge of town, where a sign thanked walkers for visiting Kington.

Leaving Kington
Soon I reached the road end and continued along a well worn track through the snow, following some other Offa's Dyke walkers I had met in the pub last night.  There were good views as I ascended up the east ridge of Hergest Ridge past a strangely sited group of monkey puzzle trees to reach the windy summit plateau.

Ascending Hergest Ridge
Monkey Puzzle trees on Hergest Ridge
I detoured south through deeper snow to visit the trigpoint a few hundred metres south of the Offa's Dyke Path before heading west to the pile of boulders that marks the true summit of Hergest Ridge (Marilyn).  I could see a few other people out walking this morning, although most of them seemed to be sticking to the well worn tracks through the snow along the Offa’s Dyke Path.

Trig point on Hergest Ridge
True Summit of Hergest Ridge
I waded westwards through deep snow and heather to return to the Offa's Dyke Path, which I followed south-westwards along the lovely ridge with excellent views all around.  Around now I spotted a Red Kite soaring high above the ridge.

Red Kite soaring over Hergest Ridge
In Gladestry I stopped for a late morning break on a handy bench at the bus stop, which I guessed was pretty lightly used given that there was only one bus a week!  It was deceptively warm here this morning out of the bitter wind.

Snow drifts south of Gladestry
On Disgwylfa Hill
I pushed on across more farmland to reach the open access land of Disgwylfa Hill, where I stopped for lunch in the shelter of a small hummock.  There were good views from up here, but it was bitterly cold exposed to the easterly wind.  I descended to the small hamlet of Newchurch before skirting the eastern slopes of Little Mountain, where the sheep had sought out the small sections of ground not covered by snow.

Sheep on Little Mountain
There were good views over to the Black Mountains, which would be my hills for tomorrow.  After a welcome few hundred metres of road walking, due to it having been cleared of snow, came half a kilometre of deep snow covered track where I met some Offa’s Dyke Path walkers who had set off from Hay this morning.  They had tales of very deep mud and a poorly signed diversion in Bettws Dingle.

The white looking Black Mountains
Another section of road walking brought me to near the western edge of Bettws Dingle, where there were clear signs indicating the diversion.  However I still took the precaution of photographing the diversion map just in case.  After a few hundred metres the diversionary route led me down into the valley, where several diggers had been making a right old mess!

Diggers making a mess in Betws Dingle
There was plenty of mud around here, with the fallen over diversion signs partly hidden by a digger – I guessed it was around here the other walkers had got lost.  After referring to my photo of the diversion map I was soon back on the right course and continued my descent to the busy A438 road.

An unpleasant few hundred metres of road walking then followed, before I picked up a pleasant footpath across the fields to the River Wye and Hay Bridge.  Walking across the bridge into Hay-on-Wye, I was pleased to discover that my accommodation for the night was one of the first buildings I reached!  And it was appropriately named “Rest for the Tired”!

Hay Bridge
I arrived around 5:30pm and after watching Doctor Who, I nipped out to the shops to replenish my food supplies for tomorrow’s long day across the Black Mountains.  Also given the forecast for extensive sunshine tomorrow I went on a sun cream hunt, which was surprisingly tricky given the time of year – eventually the Co-op found some in their storeroom left over from last summer!  After a welcome dinner of haddock and chips in the Three Tuns, washed down with a couple of pints of Wye Valley ale, I retired to bed after another good long day’s walking.

N.B. 03/06/13 - Post date updated to actual date of walk, i.e. 30/03/13 (from 10/04/13).  A link to Hergest Ridge trigpoint has also been added.

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