Our big walk for 2012 was initally going to be Coast-to-Coast from St. Bees Head to Robin Hood’s Bay. I think that we got cold feet about such a northerly, arduous walk; we were also swayed by Offa’s Dyke Path’s advantages: it was closer to home – Stoke is some way east of the Welsh Marches, but you can hear hymns and arias when there is a westerly wind; the walk would also deliver us to Julia’s Aunty Joyce to celebrate her eightieth birthday. In addition, Julia and I were both genetically predisposed to walk along the border between England and Wales; Julia and her parents were all born in Wales; my parents and I were all born in England. But Julia only “lived” in Wales for the first three months of her life, whilst I was exiled in the principality between 1968 and 1974.
The above is the inner sleeve to Man’s 1970s album, “Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day”. (Click on the image to study it in greater detail!) Do you remember Man? They were synonymous with their homeland; indeed if there had been a Welsh Assembly in those days, they would have been nationalised. Anyway, their wonderful inner sleeve helps us convey an overview of ODP, because for all intents and purposes, it follows the line of the East Coast of Wales. It runs for somewhere between 168 and 182 miles depending upon which guidebook you believe; two-thirds of the walking is in Wales, and one-third in that land to the east. The border is crossed several times, allowing for many celebrations/commiserations.
We walked from north to south during April and May 2012, going against the wisdom that one should walk with the sun and the prevailing wind at one’s back. Aunty Joyce had a great deal to do with this decision. But we also found a guidebook which seemed to be concise and clear………and enjoyed cocking a snook at accepted wisdom! (Offa’s Dyke Path: Prestatyn to Chepstow; 3rd Edition July 2011; Trailblazer Publications)