On the third morning in Llangollen my eighth stay came to an end. Our departure was a clouded one, literally that is. Travelling with modern applications has its advantaged and disadvantages. One of them is that you’re able to monitor the weather and adapt your journey if necessary. If you read my blog about Hadrian’s Wall Path you may have remembered that in our ignorance we ignored a code orange for heavy winds. This time there was a code orange for heavy showers and possible flooding. Heavy rain is not seldom accompanied by heavy winds, so it was potentially worse if you ask me. We had to consider what was possible and what was safe.
Chirk – Racecourse common (7 km/4,3m)
Luckily for us we were able to use the knowledge of a local source who knew the area and was able to make an assessment about the potential problems caused by heavy rains and flooding (And if code orange was a precaution or an actual threat). With this information we decided to skip a part of the route. I’m always quite rigorous when it comes to doing a trail in its entirety. I already get annoyed when I have to skip 100 metres, let alone 7 km, but alas. Safety first. And so we were outside our hostel at half past eight, ready for a ride to Racecourse common, a former historic racecourse near Oswestry in Shropshire. It dates from the 18th century but has been in disuse for quite a while and is now overgrown, with only a partial ruin and a horse statue to commemorate its old purpose.
Racecourse Common – LLanymynech (14 km/8,7 m)
From the racecourse onwards you pass through a forest where according to our guide the dyke is a loyal companion. Throughout the centuries the trees have conquered the dyke, but the earthen construction is visible in long stretches of the Racecourse Wood. Personally, I needed the guide to spot the difference between the original Offa’s Dyke and similar natural barriers that evolved in the centuries afterwards. This fifth day does consist of a couple of hills, but they were mostly situated in the part between Chirk and Racecourse Common, so the 14 kilometres we walked today weren’t exactly the most challenging.
There are, however, two smaller hills, just after the villages Tyn-y-Coed and Trefonen. The first one is the Moelydd, 285 metres high (935 ft), with quite a nice view on top. After that you descend towards Nant-Mawr and Porth-Y-Waen. Passing an old railroad, now in disuse, you head towards the second and probably the prettiest climb of the day. Via a golf course you ascend towards Llanymynech Hill, with its 226 metres (774 ft) not exactly high, but it does bring you to an old limestone quarry, currently a nature reserve. This is also the home to the kind of goat that brought forth the image of the medieval image of the devil. After Llanymynech Hill you descend towards the village itself. You can also find remains of the industrial activity of the limestone quarries in this village, the Llanymynech Limeworks Heritage Area. Especially the Hoffman Kiln, one of three remaining in the UK and the only one with its chimney intact, is worth the visit.
A hamburger (for a change)
Llanymynech appears to consist of four roads (at first sight) but it does have 1700 inhabitants. Eventually we stayed in the Cross Keys Hotel, a decent and tidy place to spend the night and brace the rain, that did come, at 5 PM.
– Llanymynech. It’s a name that is more difficult to pronounce than seems at first sight. I never managed to do it correctly. Many eyebrows have been raised at my attempts.
– It’s clear that we’re in the border country of Wales and England. Two signs welcome you. To the left there is a welcome to “Shropshire”, to the right a “Croeso y Gymru” (Yes, Gymru, not Cymru. Don’t ask why)
– The devilish goat. QED.