Day 1 – Chepstow to Redbrook:
Breakfast was excellent and it was nice to be able to talk to someone who had walked at least part of the path himself so we would gain an idea of some of the issues that we might face along the way. It took quite a while to figure out where we had really ended up the night before, but once that that had been determined our B&B host agreed to give us a lift to that point on the Offa’s Dyke Path so that we would not need to retrace too much of our earlier travels. His sense of humour was displayed openly :-). (Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales)
Although a National Trust path, various organizations were responsible for the care and maintenance of various sections of the trail. This was apparent as you followed the trail. In some areas significant work was underway to replace or repair signs and stiles and gates. In other sections similar signs, signposts, stiles and gates had been in service for quite a few years and were beginning to show their age.
The Offa’s Dyke Path arrives at the “Devil’s Pulpit” across the valley of the River Wye and provides an excellent point from which to view Tintern Abbey. The abbey dates back to the12th Century with most of the currently standing structures likely dating from the mid 13th to 16th century.. ‘Devil’s Pulpit’ is a small rocky outcrop that overlooks the abbey. It is so named because rumour had it that the Devil used to preach from the outcrop and attempt to seduce the Abbey’s Monks away from Christianity.
Tourism is a major source of revenue for the village of Tintern, Wales and for walkers the abbey and the town can be reached from the Offa’s Dyke Path or from the Wye River Valley path. Excellent information about the abbey and photos from ground level can be found here:
Threatening clouds were never far away on most days and the rule of thumb was that if we saw a hill chances were that we would have to climb it. Like school children everywhere, some were enjoying the hike up this hill while others were not. “Are we there yet” “How much further?” “I’m tired!” Of course, since we were heading down the hill, we had no such feelings until we reached our next hill.
Much of the day’s walk was along the edge of the River Wye- sometimes close to the river among the fields of buttercups and at other times a bit higher up the side of the valley. Enough ups and downs to avoid any feeling of monotony.
Most people walk south to north on the Offa’s Dyke Path, beginning in Chepstow in the south and ending in Prestatyn to the north. This Florida mother and her son (Gloria and Glen) had decided to start in Prestatyn and walk the path from north to south.
As we were beginning our journey, they were approaching the end of theirs.
There were many interesting architectural structures visible along the path. Most had that ‘ancient’ look about them. Intriguing, but out of reach across the River Wye, was this church spire arising from among the bushes in the Welsh town of Llandago.
Walkers always had to be careful when following these markers. The one with the acorn was the one that we were following while the one without the acorn often pointed in the direction that we thought that we should be going. Many of the markers were showing the effects of time and were not quite as clear as this. This slight difference went unnoticed on occasion, thus leading to some backtracking and extra steps from time to time.
The first day on the path went well but, although we appreciated seeing the village of Redbrook when we caught the first glimpse of it, we soon came to realize, as we would on many other days, that seeing a destination and actually getting to that location would usually require many more footsteps.
The English town of Redbrook was once a thriving industrial town with many breweries but now there are only two pubs in the area, one on the Welsh side of the River Wye and the other on the English side of the river. The Boat Inn on the Welsh side of the River Wye is accessed from Redbrook via Penallt Viaduct, which used to carry the Wye Valley Railway across the River. The Welsh beer of the day was Butty Boch. (LOCATION)