The day started off early for me - up at 5:30 to write yesterday’s blog! The crew started stirring shortly before 8 and we all enjoyed some of Ali’s homemade granola along as well as fruit and fresh bread with a non-dairy spread. It was great to have Alex, Kate, and their adorable dog Ed as company for the day. They had their car with them, which we needed to get to our day’s destination, so we worked it out to have Ali’s friend, Chris, lead Alex, Olivia, and me to Knighton at 9:30, where we deposited the car, some gear, and Olivia (for another day of recuperation), and then Chris drove Alex and me back to the Walking Hub so we could begin our day’s hike. While we encountered a downpour on the half-hour drive back to Kington, we were fortunate to to have nothing but sunshine for the remainder of the day! Alex and Kate always seem to bring the sunshine!
By the time we got all of our gear together and said goodbye to Ali it was already 11:30 am. We weren’t concerned though since it was only a 14-mile hiking day.
We were excited about the hike, but first had to get out of town and onto the path, typically the most confusing part of any day’s hike. We felt lucky that as we were leaving we bumped into a couple who said they were also doing the ODP and knew where they were going, so we just followed them back to the path. It seemed like a circuitous route but we trusted they were taking us to the right spot. When we got to the spot, I saw that it was taking us south, back to Hay-on-Wye. It was at that point they let us know that they were doing the ODP North to South. Lesson learned - need to ask which direction hikers are going! ;-) Oh well, we headed back toward the Walking Hub and found where we needed to go to start our hike to Knighton. It was a poorly-marked gate, which is why we didn’t see it in the first place!
We had been warned that the day would start with a significant climb and that, in general, this day’s hike would be more arduous than the previous day’s trek. Since we were ambling along at a more leisurely pace, catching up with our friends, we weren’t bothered by the added effort needed.
Ed liked to lead the pack along with Jonah so we knew we were in good hands with Jonah’s youthful vitality and Ed’s keen scent steering us in the right direction.
After passing through Kington golf course, we meandered through quite a few fields, many filled with sheep. Ed loved to run after the sheep but had no idea what to do when he got close, which he rarely did.
And when needed, Kate always was there to provide Ed with a treat for good behavior and kindness toward his fellow four-legged friends.
While there tended to be clouds in the sky, the sun seemed to always find a way to break through on this glorious day!
As we approached the crest of Rushock Hill, we were met by Offa’s Dyke, which we hadn’t seen since the early part of our journey over 50 miles ago. Although it was originally over 26 feet from ditch bottom to bank top, it is now merely 3-4 feet high, though clearly visible.
We spent the next several miles walking either next to the dyke . . .
or on top of it.
Since we were busy talking and taking in the glorious weather and scenery, we didn’t spend as much time tracking the direction or change in terrain.
We mainly just followed Jonah, who was sometimes close by . . .
and sometimes far in the distance.
He seemed to enjoy doing his own thing today and letting the adults talk - it gave him a chance to catch up on the NBA finals by listening to some podcasts.
At about 2:45 pm we took a snack break by a stream. We said it was for Ed, but in reality we all could use a short rest (except for Jonah whom we had to call back to us.) After snacking, we had a little sing along of Ob La Di, Ob La Da (maybe we will post that on Facebook separately!)
Today was definitely the day of sheep, which suited Ed perfectly!
While Ed loved the sheep, I was excited to see some of my cow friends, who obligingly came over when I called them.
But Ed was definitely the star of the day - I really couldn’t take enough photos of him. So cute and such a wonderful hiking companion.
As we started our descent, Jonah finally let us catch up to him so I was able to take this photo with him.
And then we made it to a wooded area that was on the edge of town and knew we were getting close.
Finally, Jonah led us to the edge of town.
And we got to our lodging for the night, the Red Lion Inn, at 5:15 pm.
We checked in on Olivia who was still sleeping and not hungry. Poor thing has had it rough! We all showered and got ready for dinner. Olivia joined us briefly at the Horse and Jockey but ended up leaving before the food arrived. As is customary for pubs throughout the UK, dogs are welcomed. Ed deserved a night out after the long day he had. He was pooped as were all of us, but can always bring it for a photo op!
Jonah went back to be with his sister just after he ate. Alex, Kate, Ed, Lara, and I stayed for a couple of drinks so that we could spend more time chatting. We haven’t seen them since the last hike two years ago - always a joy to spend time with these two incredible souls! We finally left at 9:30 and decided to call it a night.
Before going to bed, Olivia told us that she thinks she would be able to get better quicker if she weren’t moving from place to place each day. So understandably yet sadly, we are going to send her back with Kate, Alex, and Ed tomorrow. She can either stay with them while we finish the hike, or she might actually fly home from Birmingham in the coming days. We are sad that she isn’t able to join us, but want her to get better before she goes to an intensive 5-week theatre program at Northwestern University in 2 weeks.
Distance: 14.18 miles
Time: 5 hours 14 minutes
Average Speed: 2.7 mph
Total Ascent: 2,680 feet
Total Descent: 2,634 feet