Gary Wiles

Entered the Hall of Fame:3rd September 2017
Trail Completed:11th August 2017

The Offa's Dyke Path was my first National Trail and as a newbie it was a steep learning curve – sometimes literally so! But it is worth it.

The first mistake I made was the size of my pack. I lost count of the number of times I had to explain to fellow walkers that no, I wasn’t camping – and it quickly became a case of ‘if you don’t need it, bin it.’ Getting lost was another regular pastime. I do not recommend trying to flag down passing white vans on the B4357 to find out where the hell you are. Never mind the bullocks. There’s a field near Pandy where they get a little randy, and it shook me up a bit I can tell you.

Then there are the climbs. The biggest is an almost vertical looking slope rising from Churchtown at the end of the ‘Switchbacks’. But ironically that was the day I felt I had worn myself into the ODP – it was hard yes, but also exhilarating. I started to enjoy the thing – the climbing, the detours, even the rain – and there is SO much to enjoy. Walking with the wild horses on the Black Mountains, the views from Herrock Hill, the monkey puzzles on Hergest Ridge, Chirk castle, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (when you really do discover if you have a head for heights), the panorama walk, Castell Dinas Bran and that moment on the Clwydian Range when you first catch a glimpse of the sea.

Then there are the people you meet and the fantastic places you stay. Mrs Richards’ B&B at Drewin Farm overlooking the Montgomery Plain would be my favourite. Such amazing warmth and hospitality.

And the Dyke itself – a bit like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s a bit of a mystery and keeps popping up when you least expect it. But it’s fascinating to walk amid such history and think of the monumental task it must have been to build it.

There’s no mystery about why people love walking the ODP. I would heartily recommend it and can't wait to plan my next National Trail adventure.

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