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Kington to Knighton

Thursday, July 12, 2012

These blog entries detail the adventures, perils, and inclement weather that befell Deborah, our Director of Marketing here at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, and her husband Martin along Offa’s Dyke, a 182-mile long trek along the border of England and Wales. For the full introduction and to start at the beginning to read the stories in order, see the June 28th, 2010 blog entry.

Kington to Knighton

Dear Readers:

Please excuse grammatical and other errors since I am usually typing this after a harrowing day of hiking and dodging the wild animals in Wales. I had no idea of the horrors that awaited us in the trek between English Kington to Welsh Knighton. We felt pressured as we wanted to visit the Offa's Dyke visitor center in Knighton before it closed at 5 pm, so we hustled out of Kington at 8:45 after eating a protein heavy English breakfast and stopping for a package of biscuits and bread to go with our last remaining cheese and last tin of tuna for lunch on the trail.

Unfortunately, heavy fog and rain enveloped the area overnight so as we left town, we ascended into the thick fog as we traversed yet another golf course. Fortunately, the cows and sheep couldn't see us any better than we could see them. Alas, lost in the featureless wasteland, we lost the trail. It started raining. Staying calm, we retraced out steps and tried crossing the field at the top of the mountain again. Through sheer luck, we stumbled into Offa's Dyke. As we were trying to figure out where we were, two walkers going from north to south loomed out of the mist so we then knew what direction to take.

We marched on with our wagon of weapons. This was difficult because this section of trail specialized in numerous styles rather than gates. Up till now, the sheep have scattered or at least moved aside as we passed on the trail. We noticed what we thought were heavier patches of fog at ground level were moving towards us. The fog had hooves. We walked faster. The fog sheep began to trot. We made it to the next style and wrestled the wagon over.  We decided to carry the weapons because Martin was concerned that we would be separated at a style and an attack would occur when we were defenseless.

The sheep mist thickened. Martin shouted, “Let's get to the roman hill fort” that we had noticed the map indicated lay ahead. We noticed earlier that the sheep baaed from field to field to signal ahead. We were quite alarmed now. Racing, we made it to the fort’s stonewall. Martin felt slingshots would work the best since the pack was so dense, we couldn't miss. We repeatedly fired into the mass, yelling Celtic war cries. We were reinforced by a larger party of hikers wearing chain mail. United, we drove a wedge into the sheep mass, escaped down the hill, leaving the demoralized sheep behind in their bovine fury.

As they hikers parted ways, they advised us to be careful around the hill top mounds (ancient pre-Roman burial sites).

During the rest of the day, we had over 15 separate storms pass by, usually when we were on ridges. We have had hail every day but two. We made it into Knighton at 5:12, just missing the visitors’ center. We resolved to wait for it to open the next morning, unknowingly setting us up for the travails of Knighton to Cym Chapel. We stayed in the best room of the trip so far in the 700 year old Horse and Jockey Inn and had a delicious dinner with our English friends in the snug.

We have used everything that we brought except the alarm clock and clothespins. It has been so cold that I have worn my short sleeve wool shirt, long sleeve wool shirt, the L.L.bean wool jacket, raincoat, specialized tights, skirt, gloves, buff, wool hat and rain hat AT THE SAME TIME. (To the left, the brave adventurers getting ready for a day on the trail.)

Despite the weather, the animals, long days and getting lost, we are having a wonderful time seeing such an interesting part of the world.

Deborah Hansen