|Offa's Dyke in pictures|
Day 1 - We started from the Severn estuary near Chepstow, the old(new) suspension bridge spanning its wide tidal waters. We would not see the coast again until we reached Prestatyn on the north coast of Wales.
Day 1 - The official starting point for the Offa's Dyke trail is a little disappointing, resembling a discarded lump of concrete (actually a piece of local 'pudding stone') and offering no grand viewpoint to mark the occasion.
Day 1 - Here we dallied briefly, took photographs, videos, consulted guide books and maps, and then set off on the only obvious path available to us - straight inland and away from the estuary.
Day 1 - After Chepstow was left behind we began climbing ever upwards through forested hillsides, emerging at the Devil's Pulpit, a column of sandstone overlooking Tintern Abbey far below.
Day 1 - In a quiet valley near Bigsweir Bridge we rested tired legs amidst an avenue of ancient chestnut trees, living treasures looted from the Spanish Armada as young saplings.
Day 1 - After an unexpectedly challenging day we descended the last slope into Redbrook and the end of the days walking.
Day 2 - Day two commenced and with no surprise at all we headed uphill, onto a gravel track that helped us rise steadily onto the high pasture and open views of The Kymin.
Day 2 - From the Kymin, with its historic monuments and neatly tended lawns, there were far-reaching views westward into Wales, where we would be heading over the next several days.
Day 2 - Following the white acorn signs, we threaded our way through Monmouth's streets until we passed under the towns impressive medieval old gatehouse and over the River Wye,
Day 2 - Beyond Monmouth there was, inevitably, another hill to climb. This one was called Kings Hill and was a relative minnow compared to the others that were to follow.
Day 2 - As the day waned we entered an orchard of cider apples, with its trees arranged in neat orderly rows and the fruit all ready for harvest.
Day 3 - After leaving tiny Llantilio Crossenny we climbed until the views opened up before us, showing us the way into Wales.
Day 3 - We passed the impressive ruins of 12th century White Castle, resisting the temptation to spend time exploring them.
Day 3 - After White Castle we crossed rolling grassy meadows, with the long wall of Hatterrall Ridge getting ever closer - our target for the day.
Day 3 - We passed many fine farmhouses along the way, although some of them were, sadly, abandoned and falling to ruin.
Day 3 - The handsome, whitewashed church at Llangattock Lingoed.
Day 3 - Finally we had to tackle the last climb of the day, at the southern end of Hatterrall Ridge.
Day 3 - From the ridge we could see southwards to distant Brean Down and the sea, eastwards to the Malverns, and westwards across the rolling hills of Wales.
Day 3 - Up and over the ridge, and down to Llanthony Priory and a well-earned rest.
Day 4 - In the morning we were climbing up Hatterrall Ridge again with great views back along the Vale of Ewyas.
Day 4 - Today was going to be spent walking along the high spine of Hatterrall Ridge in disappointingly poor visibility.
Day 4 - The summit of the ridge, wrapped in ghostly vapours, felt more like Mars than Wales.
Day 4 - The ridge finally conquered, we descended Hay Bluff and headed down into the town of Hay-On-Wye for the conclusion of the day.
Day 5 - We walked out of Hay-On-Wye, passing by the rather impressive clock tower in Hay's market square, past its myriad bookshops, and finally left the pleasant town via a road bridge spanning the Wye.
Day 5 - The first few miles took us across flat fields of crops and we began to wonder where all the hills had gone.
Day 5 - We needn't have worried - soon enough the land began to undulate and we found ourselves climbing through steeply wooded hillsides.
Day 5 - A break in the trees afforded us views back to where Hatterrall Ridge, already diminished by distance, etched the horizon.
Day 5 - Stopping for lunch on a hill called Little Mountain we consulted our maps and gladdened our hearts with the hills we had yet to tackle, including Hergest Ridge.
Day 5 - Hergest Ridge was a place of quiet beauty, whispering grass, and wild horses. It was worth the effort involved in climbing it, and provided a nice finale to the day.
Day 6 - We started out from the small town of Kington, which seemed to have managed to retain its old family businesses. It was refreshing to walk along a high street not stamped with a Tesco Express, a Boots Chemist, and a Starbucks. Give me 'Titleys Hardware Store' any time.
Day 6 - The Offa's Dyke path wasted no time in exercising our leg muscles, taking us almost immediately up the side of Bradnor Hill and reuniting us with the earth embankment of Offa's Dyke itself, not seen for a few days.
Day 6 - From Bradnor hill you could stand and admire the rolling hills of Wales fading away into a blue haze as sheep grazed nearby, indifferent to your intrusion.
Day 6 - One of the hidden gems of this section was the vista of East Radnor valley, opening up before us as we began to ascend Bradnor Hill.
Day 6 - Sometimes a nice bit of road walking is a welcome change to grassy tussocks or gravelled paths and so we meandered for a while along a most pleasant B-road, passing several Bed and Breakfast properties that must be a dream to stay in.
Day 6 - This was Offa's Dyke however and a hill is always waiting. This next one was Furrow Hill, the last climb of the day, and similar in nature to Hergest Ridge.
Day 6 - The rolling heights of Furrow Hill were clothed in verdant grass, nibbled short by sheep. A cluster of hardy pines thrived somehow, despite the thin soil and undoubtedly cold winter gales.
Day 6 - The halfway point of the Offa's Dyke path, Knighton, provided a sleepy welcome when we came down from Furrow Hill. Our days walking, and the completion of the southern half of the route, ended at the Offa's Dyke visitor centre.
Day 7 - Setting out from Knighton on (even by Offa's Dyke standards) a hilly day.
Day 7 - Panpunton Hill wasn't one to gently introduce us to proceedings. It was immediately steep and took us up quickly to a height of 400 feet, revealing a good view over the town we had just left.
Day 7 - On a tricky little path, somewhere between Middle Knuck and Lower Knuck.
Day 7 - The view was wonderful from atop Edenhope Hill, and to our relief it was to be the last hill of a day which had demanded over a thousand meters of ascent in total.
Day 8 - Walking down Long Mountain, descending into the Severn Valley to end the day’s route at Buttington.
Day 9 - A profusion of Himalayan Balsam in flower near Maginnis Bridge.
Day 9 - Pausing to sort the route out near Breidden Hill.
Day 10 - A panoramic view from the top of Moelydd Hill.
Day 10 - A change of scenery as we swap windy hilltops for leafy lanes as we approach Candy Wood.
Day 10 - The pretty hamlet of Pen-y-bryn in the Ceirog Valley and the end of the days walk.
Day 11 - The Llangollen Canal: We enjoy the rare pleasure of walking along a canal tow-path.
Day 11 - Soon, we had reached the small but lively village of Trevor. It was filled with people, milling about and enjoying the sudden burst of good weather.
Day 11 - We began making our way north along the tarmac lane, taking a path that is known as the ‘Panorama Walk’ as we strode down the whole length of this valley.
Day 11 - On an imposing hill running parallel to our path the broken ruins of the Dinas Bran castle sprawled drunkenly, looking down upon the timeless valley. It is not an idle boast that our guidebook regarded this part of the walk as one of the wonders of the whole route.
Day 11 - “I think we’re going to run out of tape, before we run out of views,” I told the others as my thumb nudged the record button once more. The valley below had now become shallower and more wooded. It was luxurious with growth and seemed to be bunching up at its far end. The opposite ridge was now flatter and allowing the sight of more distant hills.
Day 11 - We began to climb north on what was now the Minera road. This was a very steep haul with conifer plantations on both sides and banks of ferns immediately around us, bringing us eventually alongside the Cyrn-y-Brain moors.
Day 12 - From the top of Moel y Plas, looking forward to the peaks we had yet to do that day.
Day 12 - On the Clwydian range with the chilly waters of Llyn Gweryd lake below us.
Day 12 - A view from Foel Fenli shortly before we came down from the hills.
Day 13 - That was it really, after all those miles spread across two years it came down to reaching a large rock (another lump of local stone just like the one located in distant Chepstow) and no more walking. Still, we had completed the Offa’s Dyke trail and that was a pleasurable enough thought