Thursday, 23 June 2016

Offa's Dyke day 12:Into The Valley.

I slept surprisingly well in the ramshackle Railway in Oswestry. Apart from being woken at 5.30am by someone listening to their telly at full volume in another room. I banged my knee pretty hard jumping out of bed.

I wonder if it was one of the very pissed punters who were in there when I'd got back from my Oswestry evening. The guy singing Wet Wet Wet's Goodnight Girl maybe. Perhaps the man who told me Rooney was past it about 15 times in a row, each slurrier. They were having a good old fashioned lock in. I had to tap on the window several times to gain access.

I'd been enjoying Indian food in Simla. The host was asking his other customers how they intended to vote in the referendum.  He, worryingly, favoured Out but, even more worryingly, said he'd probably wait until he got to the polling booth before deciding!

The Railway didn't go in for such luxuries as breakfast and it was too early for disco dancing. But not for a pint in 'Spoons. If you wanted one. I had a cup of tea and a veggie breakfast in The Wilfred Owen, Oswestry's own Wetherspoons.

Then I walked to the quaint churchy village of Setellyn. They had a phone box converted into a 'library'. A book exchange really but a nice idea and, apparently, one imported from Prague.

I carried on to Craignant where I finally picked up Offa's Dyke path again. It had been quite a yomp just to get there. The path immediately took me up a steep hill through a field of slightly menacing cows. It started to rain a little. The sensation of cooling raindrops on my sunburnt neck was oddly pleasant.

After 3 hours of almost solid uphill walking I reached some kind of peak and saw in front of me, though still some distance away, the impressive Chirk Castle. I descended quickly. Past a field of lovely long haired horses.

Not so lovely were the flies that were constantly getting in my face. Some of the path was very overgrown and the beautiful purple flowers were attracting plenty of bees.

At the bottom I crossed the Cieriog river. David Lloyd George had described the Cieriog valley as a little piece of heaven on Earth.  It was certainly very pretty but having to walk along a busy road with no pavement put check to any lyrical flights of fancy of my own.

As I approached Chirk both a viaduct and an aqueduct came into view. The aqueduct was built by Industrial Revolution engineering genius Thomas Telford, who will crop up again in this story, and the viaduct some years later by one Henry Robertson. Its superior height intended to emphasise and celebrate the railway's dominance over the canals.

In Chirk itself I grabbed a pint of Darwin's Origin and a room in The Hand Hotel. Far superior to my Oswestrian digs. Alas, I'd missed curry night and it was grill night. The bar man was very keen to boast about his chef credentials. His signature dish was nachos which didn't sound very cordon bleu but I tried them nevertheless. There were loads of 'em. Too many for one man. Even a hungry one like me.

As I watched the Euro games in the saloon bar some local youths listened to dreadful Europop at ear splitting levels in the next room. It was the most convincing argument I'd heard for Brexit yet.

They branched into other terrible music later. Gina G. Sex on Fire (I must be up north). More palatable were Baggy Trousers and, er, Jimmy Eat World.

I chatted to a Canadian guy who now lived in Stockholm and was on a walking holiday. Having initially dismissed him as a hipster I realised he actually was a woodsman. He was even on his way to a festival of wood to see various wood crafts and axe work. Makes a change from Glastonbury.

I'd intentionally given myself a comparatively easy day to try and rest my blistered feet. Still over 5 hours with a sweaty rucksacked back though. Tomorrow it'll be on to Llangollen and then probably home.

Ruthin, Prestatyn, and, most ominously the Clwydian range can wait. 

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