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Walking the Offa's Dyke Path

Day One: Trial by Rain

Chepstow Castle in Wales

Mary, Julia, David, and Ernest drove the 186 miles, east to west, across England from Canterbury in Kent to Chepstow in Wales. It was Monday, January 21, 2008 and it rained all the way. Strangely the four hour drive from Canterbury to Chepstow was almost the same distance of the Offa's Dyke Path, which they were all about to set off walking on for the next six days.

Once checked into their rustic pub they walked to the start/finish of the Offa's Dyke path at the River Wye. It was raining, the wind was blowing, and the sky was menacing, but they walked on through it all. Ernest was the first to fall over in the mud, twice in fact. This made everyone laugh, except Ernest who was now very wet and miserable. But each of them would experience the mud, in their own way, before the hike was over.

Start/finish of the Offa's Dyke path

They were all looking forward to their traditional British breakfast in the morning to power them up with things like: sausages, eggs, mushrooms, and fried bread. They would need it as locals in the pub told them it would be raining and they would likely encounter landslides tomorrow, perhaps even snow!

They braved the rain and took time to visit Chepstow Castle. It is perched on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye and is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain built between 1067-1300. It is architecturally a thing of beauty, but represents the worst in our brutal natures.

The start of the southern end of the path

William the Conqueror built this castle at Chepstow quickly because of its strategic importance. No one lived in the area before the Norman invasion of Wales. However, it was a crossing point on the River Wye for traffic from Monmouth and Hereford. Welsh kingdoms in the area were independent of the English Crown at the time. So the castle in Chepstow helped suppress the Welsh from attacking the invaders.

The fab-four went to bed that night with the sound of pouring rain. What would tomorrow hold for them? Would they have to walk in the rain? Would it snow?

Join me on my next installment of Walking the Offa's Dyke Path.


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