Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Walk Along Offa's Dyke

Once a king called Offa built a dyke. It crossed the marches into Wales from sea to sea. No one knows what it was for; was it to keep the people of Powys out or to keep his own people of Mercia in? A ridge of mud was bordered on the Welsh side by a ditch and today some of it is still visible - 80 miles of land that is oddly ridged - but most of it is worn away by plough and the trampling of hooves and feet. There is a path that follows it however, and some of it goes through land classified as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and luckily for us it is just a short drive away from our house.

Hodmandod Senior realised that he hadn't had a day off work this year (apart from public holidays and compassionate leave) so after a search on the net we decided to pay Offa's dyke a visit.

We started south of Ruthin in a village called Graig Fechan, a lane

leading onto path
where crows coughed at us from trees and many wildflowers lined the path,

and on one bank on closer inspection was a lime kiln, so old that trees had grown through the tightly assembled stones of the furnace.

After the woods came fields, and then after the fields, farms and odd walls until we suddenly emerged into a hamlet of cottages with huge pink roses flopping their already-blown heads over the gate.

Ducking behind a farm again we came across a small lake almost hidden in trees and startled sheep who ran away, the bleats indignant and their dung dried to jangling pellets on the wool of their backsides.

An old drover's road led upwards.

lined in part by bluebells, already past their best and wilting in the heat.

the meadows,

giving way to heathery fields with the remains of Neolithic burial mounds

until we reached the top and could admire the Vale of Clwyd stretching before us.

And felt very glad to be alive.


Blogger angie said...

This looks to be a very nice place, and it's not too far from chester. Unfortunately for me, I will never be able to travel on my own in the Wales because it is impossible for me to say the name of most of the towns.

Sat May 05, 02:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Maxine said...

Lovely photos, Clare. And, thinking of your next (happiness) post, that last picture is definitely illustrative.
I always get Offa's dyke muddled up with Occam's razor, which is really a very different thing, and would be quite painful to try to walk along.

Your comment about H. S. reminds me of a colleague of mine, one of the two people who has worked for Nature longer than me, and who doesn't take much time off. This year, he took a couple of weeks off from work and family to walk along Hadrian's wall, on his own. I felt quite envious. (Transiently.)

Sat May 05, 07:57:00 pm  
Blogger Minx said...

Offa's Dyke fascinated me for a long time. I was researching Llywelyn Ap Owain and Paganism around that area. Both were heavily interlinked with the dyke. Lovely part of the country as well.

Sun May 06, 05:42:00 pm  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

Lovely pics for a lovely day! And great words to accompany them...
Don't worry about pronunciation. The Welsh will let you off, I promise. They are used to it. However, a non-Welsh speaking south-Walian in north Wales would certainly see the degree of tolerance drop like a comet from the sky...

Sun May 06, 07:12:00 pm  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Lovely lovely pics! I just loved this account-with-pics! Beautiful countryside with so much ancient history - wonderful stuff.
(BTW over here we call the dry pellets on a sheep's rear-end, dags. Which is also the term given to someone who is funny or tricky - a bit like the term 'wag' I guess.)

Sun May 06, 09:34:00 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Lovely snaps Clare and a lovely part of the world.
Pity the weather has changed so drastically this w/end.

Mon May 07, 09:06:00 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

I always enjoy accompanying you on these walks, so beautifully photographed and even more beautifully described.

Tue May 08, 07:03:00 am  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Hi Clare--

What a good ramble--and it's warm, too.

I'm back--busy--will have to come back again to see the rest. But I got the anthology. I'm going away again in a few days and will take it with me and read your story.

Mon May 14, 03:37:00 pm  

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