Day Nine, Saturday, 5th May 2012

Julia, with new flask, in Knighton
Julia, with new flask, in Knighton

 

We awoke rather late to blue skies; unequivocally blue! In truth, we had allowed ourselves a lie-in. On the previous evening, before dropping off to sleep, we had promised ourselves a rest. This was a pragmatic decision; if we were going to make Sedbury Cliffs by the following Saturday, our bodies needed a little break. We honestly couldn’t cope with any further switchback terrain after the previous afternoon’s exertions. Besides which, all this obsessive following of The Dyke was beginning to feel like stalking. The last thing that we wanted was to be accused of importuning an ancient earthwork! We were committed to stay at The Old Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne on the evening of this 9th day, and so we decided to take a ‘bus or taxi to Knighton, and walk from there.

No buses run from Newcastle to Knighton, but there was a coach/taxi firm just next door to the  Crown Inn. The lady of the family business ran us to Knighton via Clun with its crumbly castle and quaint village looking resplendent in the spring sunshine. We were dropped at The Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton, a smart spacious building offering a great deal of information about The Dyke and selling snacks and mementoes. We bought new T-shirts; at least we could now boast one item of clean clothing each. We ambled through Knighton, a seemingly sleepy, old-fashioned small town, and wandered into a hardware store that was like Aladdin’s cave. We emerged with a small Thermos flask; if The Path was proving to be sparse in terms of shops and other services, we would carry hot drinks with us. Before restarting our walking in earnest, we had coffee in JD’s Cafe.

The Climb out of Knighton
The Climb out of Knighton
The Path climbs quite steeply out of Knighton, through woodland, up to the town’s golf course. It was a sunny, breezy day and the walk across open farmland was a pleasure. We lunched on sandwiches purchased in Knighton sitting amongst the gorse just south of the B4355, in sight of an obelisk standing in the middle of nowhere (waymark 3 on the map). This is apparently a memorial to Sir Richard Green-Price, a nineteenth century liberal MP for Radnorshire who was renowned for his efforts to improve the impoverished working and living conditions for many of his constituents, and for influencing the arrival of the railway to this part of Wales. The balmy conditions continued into the afternoon, with good views from Hawthorn Hill and Furrow Hill, before we descended to the hamlet of Dolley Green.
On Hawthorn Hill
On Hawthorn Hill

At this point we left ODP and turned left onto the B4356 to head for Presteigne. We had intended ringing for a taxi at Dolley Green, but we felt fresh and decided to continue walking; the town was only 2 – 3 miles away, and we had only walked five miles of ODP. The walk, in itself, was straightforward but rather dull, the road being flanked by high hedges for most of the way. The B4356 also proved to be rather busy, and as it was narrow and without pavement, the taxi would certainly have been the safer and more sensible option.

The Old Radnorshire Arms Hotel
The Old Radnorshire Arms Hotel
I had never heard of Presteigne before we started planning our epic walk. It turns out to be a very pretty town. It seems to be quietly prosperous. The English/Welsh border runs just to the north-east of the town (following the River Lugg) as announced by the sign above the post office. The half-timbered Old Radnorshire Arms Hotel dates from the 16th century, but provides very comfortable accommodation, and although we arrived late on a Saturday afternoon, they were happy to take in our laundry and have it ready for our departure on the morrow. We ate at the hotel in the wood-panelled restaurant, and although the service was initially a little slow, the food was worth waiting for. (Starters: goats’ cheese bonbons & black pudding salad; mains: sea bass with pine nuts and chilli; Pinot Grigio rosé) The crème brûlée with lemongrass and basil deserves a particularly delicious mention.
Pretty Presteigne
Pretty Presteigne
Just 6 stiles
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