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DAI'S WALK AROUND WALES

NEWCASTLE-ON-CLUN to MONTGOMERY on the Offa's Dyke Path - 27th June 2016

 

It's more than a year since I completed the last leg of my Walk Around Wales so I went for something different and set myself a logistical challenge to include a leg of the walk. My son Dale and I were booked onto an outdoor first aid course with Remote First Aid near the castle at Dolwyddelan, we'd booked into a cottage in the village and the keys needed to be picked up by 9.00pm. Dale was working late and couldn't make it by then so rather than take two cars I put a plan together to hitch hike up to Dolwyddelan but to also to get a leg of the walk done on the way. An early start was needed and I hit the road at 4.30am in time for a 5.00am sunrise. After about 15 minutes I secured my first lift and this is the way things went..............

(1) - Ian got me underway on his way to work at Orange Box - he dropped me at Merthyr.

(2) - Mark picked me up after about 15 minutes on his way to Talgarth and he dropped me on the roundabout at Bronllys. 

(3) - This was my longest wait, 25 minutes Daniel picked me up on his way to work between Llandrindod Wells and Knighton, this was a lucky break as I'd originally planned to go through Glasbury and Kington. He dropped me about 6 miles from Knighton so rather than take a chance standing still on a quiet road I started walking with my thumb out. 

(4 & 5) - Two lifts and about a mile of walking saw me into Knighton thanks to the chap in the white van on his way to Presteigne and the guy with 6 kids who used to play rugby for London Irish.  

(6) - The hitch spot out of Knighton wasn't the best but I managed a lift towards Clun with a young farmer and was dropped about 3 miles from the village. Then I walked all the way to Clun as my thumb failed me dismally. It was a left turn onto the Newcastle road and things immediately got better....... 

(7) - Thanks to the lady who got me to the start of the walk at Lower Spode on the B4368 bang on my target time of 9.00am. 

Stage 1 complete - onto Stage 2 the walk

 

THE WALK - NEWCASTLE-ON-CLUN to MONTGOMERY on the Offa's Dyke Path

  
There were quite a few steep ups and downs in the early stages with the walk flattening out about two thirds of the way into it. The wasn't a great deal of the dyke to see. Of particular note with the hills were the steep descent into and ascent out of Churchtown. I met two people going the other way on the path, I'm not sure the first, at lower Spoad was doing the whole dyke because he was bare footed having just removed his flip flops but the second chap, his name will come to me soon, from Tamworth was doing the complete walk. On this particular day he was walking Montgomery to Knighton. The only slip I had on the complete walk was right in front of him, so I knew I must have been put there just for his entertainment. I was quite excited to pass through the village of Brompton especially as I have a Brompton bike on order. With this I hope to be able to organise the logistics of point to point walks without relying on others. 

 

The Brompton is a folding bike that will fit nicely inside the car and will fold up in seconds. I plan to drive to the finish of my walks and ride back to the start, lock the bike up securely and when I finish the walk drive back to the start and pick up 'Billy Brompton' as he shall be known. The colours are the closest I could get to my old Schmoos Cycles racing kit, see the picture below of me racing in a National Series event at Plymouth in approximately 1992. I still have a set of kit for best the last time I wore it was on a ride with Geraint Thomas of Sky, the Commonwealth Road Race champion and olympic gold medallist. This was filmed by ITV and I've never seen the programme so if anyone has this on DVD or knows where I can find it on line please gis a shout. 

My plan with the Brompton is if I'm walking anti-clockwise around Wales then I can ride clockwise around Wales on the Brompton. A neat plan indeed except that it won't be a continuously linked ride like the walk but one that is linked together backwards but forwards, clockwise in an anticlockwise direction, if you see what I mean, its all very confusing for a simple chap like myself but what I'm going to do next is to start and finish my Brompton ride around Wales in the village of Brompton. This makes sense. 

For more about Brompton bikes please  CLICK HERE

Back to the walk and Offa's Dyke, the dyke was evident for part of the walk but not as pronounced as the last section. 

I ended the walk within sight of Montgomery town itself on the Offa's Dyke Path and B4385 junction with a total of 10.8 miles. 

End of stage 2 

 

GARMIN WALK

...  ...

 

Stage 3 - I got my thumb out immediately and after lots of not so lovely waves from drivers not going in my direction I reached the town of Montgomery and as it had been raining on and off for the last 30 minutes I started to worry about drowned rat syndrome. This is where no-one lets a wet and dishevelled bloke into their nice clean cars. It stopped raining and I immediately stuck my thumb out on a difficult corner pointing in the Newtown direction. (8) I was picked up within 10 minutes, thanks to the chap who used keep the garage in Abermule. We had a good chat and it started to rain so when we arrived in Newtown I headed straight for shelter in the KFC. The rain lasted long enough for me to polish off a muffin and large latte and I headed out again. this was the awkward bit of my thumbelling (short for thumb travelling) I needed to go backwards the way I came to meet up with the A470 which was to take me to my final destination. I trudged through Newtown trough the on and off showers and was picked up by two ladies (9) on their way home from the dentist. They dropped me on the A470 junction near Caersws. I bagged a perfect thumb sport and within 5 minutes was on my way again thanks to the trout fishing plasterer (10) from Mid Wales who was on his way to price a job in Cemaes Road. The next thumb spot was a tough one and I got another white van ride from a guy from Brithdir (11), I think he said his name was James. He had worked as an extra in quite a few films, horse riding being his speciality. First Knight starring Sean Connery was one of the films. I got off at the Cross Foxes junction with the A487 Aberystwyth road an 5 minutes later I was on the way to Dolgellau with Mr Young (12) who was delivering fruit from his shop in Dolgellau, Sorry I've forgotten your first name, it's taken me about 3 weeks to write this up and the memory is not what it used to be but here's a link to his Facebook page. 

https://www.facebook.com/Youngsgreengrocers/

I nipped into the shop for a selection of fruit to chomp on the way north, the cherries were gorgeous, the orange juicy and the peach was amazing. When I finished it I almost turned back to get another one but then I my legs reminded me that I had already walked about 15 miles that day with a possibility of several more. I walked out of Dolgellau and ended up on the dual carriageway thumbing. It would have been an awful place except there was a traffic jam and the first guy (13) I flashed my thumb at picked me up and took me to the next roundabout which was about a mile away. He was on the way to Barmouth and the roundabout was exactly where I needed to be. I was looking very good at this point time wise, it was 5.30 pm and my cut off time to pick the keys up in the Dolwyddelan Spar was 9.00pm. It took a bit longer than expected for my next lift and thanks to Glyn (14) an off duty paramedic and part-time MOT tester who took me to Ffestiniog. I got walking again and Carol and Paul (15) gave me a lift to the exit roundabout at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Not far to go now, just 3 or 4 miles over the hill, one last effort. Up went the thumb and about 10 minutes later I had my last lift from a young lady (16) on her way to Llandudno to play her flute at a traditional Welsh music event. I didn't catch her name but thanks to her and all the others who made my trip so enjoyable. 

The result of my logistical challenge was that I had succeeded and arrived at my destination with two hours to spare. It took me 14.5 hours from door to door, 16 lifts, 10.8 miles walked on the Offa's Dyke and about 5-6 more miles on the roads. Fun times  

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Dale and I on the 1st aid course, a route map of the challenge and massive mushrooms growing on the Offa's Dyke path

 

LINKS

OFFA'S DYKE ASSOCIATION CENTRE, KNIGHTON - CLICK HERE

MONGOMERY TOWN COUNCIL WEBSITE - CLICK HERE

MONTY'S BREWERY - CLICK HERE

REMOTE FIRST AID - CLICK HERE

BROMPTON BIKES - CLICK HERE

 

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