Statistics: 15.5 miles, ascent 3534′, 8.75 hours
We picked up sandwiches that we had ordered from the local bakery the night before, and collected our new hiking partner, Sylvia, who was very apprehensive about her ability to walk this next, potentially difficult section of the Path. After walking up the first set of hills after leaving the town, Sylvia decided to quit and left the trail.
Shortly after leaving Knighton we crossed the border between England and Wales.
Entering England, we walked through a gate that announced that we were now in Shropshire (Note: a portion of Shropshire is known as “the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”, due to significant technological developments that occurred there.)
Our first long climb was up Panpunton Hill, still in Shropshire, during which we enjoyed the only sun we would experience today.
Along the way we passed the official halfway marker of the Offa’s Dyke Path. With our detours and explorations, our halfway mark was actually several miles further down the trail.
Most of the elevation gain today came with the walking of the “switchbacks.” Naively, we thought that these would be a zigzag trail up a steep embankment or hillside, but not in Wales! “Switchbacks” meant a series of alternating and steep uphill and downhill trails, with no breaks in between.
At one point the switchback trail became so steep that a long staircase had been built to make it passable!
After we cleared the switchbacks and returned to flatter land, the dyke was clearly visible with its deep trenches and high mounds.
Our very hospitable B&B hosts, Alan and Sandra, picked us up from Brompton Crossroads to take us to their beautiful home, The Farm Snead. (Note: Brompton Crossroads, in Shropshire, England, is almost entirely surrounded by Wales and connected to England solely by footpaths. An earthen motte (smaller, castle-like structure) built by the Normans in the late 11th century to defend England from the Welsh is still in place.) The B&B’s barn and part of the house date back to the 1500’s. Both have been beautifully restored and Sandra designed the lovely gardens. Our rooms were adorned with antiques and the dinner Sandra prepared for us was marvelous! They were such a warm and friendly couple and urged us to stay longer. We hated to say good bye the next morning.