Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Walking Offa's Dyke Path: Bigsweir Bridge to Hendre to Llangattock Lingoed

The walk along Offa's Dyke Path is no easy stroll. With the ascents and descents in the course of an average day's walk, a hiker climbs the equivalent of a significant mountain. The Guidebook to Offa's Dyke Path tells us that a person walking the entire route will have climbed almost the same as an ascent of Mount Everest. 

Then there are the hundreds of stiles to navigate, although admittedly many stiles are being replaced with walker-friendly kissing gates.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit here that I did not walk the entire Path: on Sunday, May 27 there were thunderstorms forecasted and they began at dawn on that day, so I made the decision to stay safe at a lower altitude and rode with my suitcase in the taxi to the next B and B. "Very sensible", everyone said. I spent that afternoon watching one thunderstorm after another roll through and congratulated myself that I was not crouched trembling under who knows what on the top of the moor. We heard later that the storms unleashed vast amounts of rain on Wales and west England - Welshpool and Birmingham had significant flooding - and the walkers that did brave the elements attested to the fact that it was pretty scary and uncomfortable. 

I also admit that many of the climbs I found very difficult: that road up from Redbrook, the climb up to Hatterall Ridge, the climb up Castell Dinas Bran, the Path up Moel Famau and the rest of the moels, and the unexpected climb on the last day up the Prestatyn Hillside - these were some of the ones that stand out in my mind but there were certainly other times when I wondered why I ever thought I could walk such a difficult Path. Of course, once you arrive at the top, the mind (my mind, anyway) erases most of the negativity and relishes the moment. 

The terrain along the Path is varied: spectacular limestone cliffs of the lower Wye Valley, rolling farmlands of the Monnow and Trothy Valleys, and the spectacular hills of the Black Mountains. Then there are the forests and peaty moorlands near Llandegla, the barren moors of the Clwydian Hills and of course, the sands of both the Bristol Channel and the beach at Prestatyn. The variety of the terrain is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the walk.

There are agricultural fields, livestock pastures, sheep, cattle, ponies, wildlife, birds, wildflowers, massive and magnificent ancient trees and more sheep. There are occasional canals, rivers, waterfalls, castles and ruined abbeys. The Welsh landscape has not been overtaken by commercial interests and (take careful note, Ontario) there is no litter to be found. There is a constant sound of baa-ing and the drone of insects. Occasionally traffic - cars and planes -  can be heard and at higher altitudes, the wind can be noisy. Once I heard and saw a glider. Overall there is a peaceful calm which is very enjoyable.

This was Day 2 on Offa's Dyke Path.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Walking the Offa's Dyke Path: Sedbury Cliffs to Chepstow to Bigsweir Bridge

King Offa was the King of Mercia (approximately modern-day England) in the late 8th century and it is believed that he is the person responsible for the idea of building a dyke, a longitudinal mound of earth between his country and the country to the west, today's Wales. The presence of the Dyke does not appear to be related to defence since it is not significantly large enough to keep out marauders and it is commonly thought that Offa had it built as a show of his power and authority. Nobody really knows.

The Dyke extends in whole or in part, in varying widths and heights along much of the border between England and Wales. It is missing completely in some sections.

The Offa's Dyke Path, a National Trail of Britain, follows the course of the Dyke, beside and even at some points, on top. In sections where the Dyke is missing, the Path continues, extending from the Severn Estuary, near Chepstow in the south to the North Sea at Prestatyn, officially 177 miles or 285 Kilometers. Add more for side trips to sights-not-to-be-missed, wrong or missed turns and access to accommodation/food and the distance easily becomes 300+ Km. 

I walked the Path in May of 2018 over 15 days of walking and also enjoyed rest days in Hay-on-Wye and Llangollen. I have attempted to put some of the photos and videos I took into a series of movies which I hope visitors to this blog will enjoy. These first two videos below are "enhanced" with music which I find annoying and may not use in the future. 

As always, I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

African Lungfish

I first saw a piece of this video on Twitter and decided it was so amazing and unusual I had to share it with Some Favourite Things visitors. 

African Lungfish is a freshwater eel-like fish that aestivates during the dry season. Aestivation is similar to hibernation in that the animal enters a period of inactivity but it occurs during the heat and dryness of the African summer. Differing accounts say the fish can lie buried and dormant for 1 to 4 years. People "fishing" for them look for telltale air holes in the dry river bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Do you know anybody that has never been to IKEA? It's an experience for sure, sometimes, even enjoyable. But did you know that we in North America have been pronouncing the name of the store incorrectly?

Here's the correct pronunciation, not that I'm going to change. Everybody would be shouting at me that I'm wrong!