What a fantastic walk, one of the best I’ve done recently. I feel very excited about this one. Really impressive scenery and included 3 trails – pretty good for a 7.5mile circular.
Starting from Bishop’s Moat, which was a short drive from Mellington Hall, up to a cross roads where the road intersects the Kerry Ridgeway. There is a small motte and bailey there, the mound still very much intact – it was built in round 1120 (so about 400 years after Offa’s Dyke was built) by the Bishop of Hereford and was later possibly occupied by Llywelyn ab lorwerth in 1233.
The weather in the morning had been really stormy - snowing at one point, so we hadn’t started the walk until the weather had eased. The wind was still bitter walking south but a good uphill towards Reilthtop to meet the Shropshire Way warmed us up. The Shropshire Way, going west from here, took a lane that turned into a lovely old avenue of trees - a green lane with fantastic views down into the river Unk valley. We continued to walk the Shropshire Way through Knuck Wood following the river Unk northward and then it veers west still following the meandering river, or I think a tributary to the river Unk (actually I’ve just looked it up – it was the river Unk).
The Shropshire Way intercepts Offa’s Dyke at Churchtown, a quiet little place tucked right down in a steep sided valley. From the south side of the valley we could clearly see Offa’s Dyke climbing straight up the hillside opposite. An amazing and spectacular sight. We came across a big old sow and her 5 comical piglets at a small-holding in Churchtown. The Friendly farmer told us that he hadn’t expected them to survive in the awful, wet, snowy weather, but I think he’d done a jolly good job, they looked as happy as anything. A coffee stop and a lump of Christmas cake at the church before the steep incline of Offa’s Dyke.
The views of Churchtown Hill and Stevens Dingle were amazing even on an overcast day like today. The climb was certainly worth it and my mum, who was with me today, is in her mid-seventies so if she can do it…..
Incidentally, if you haven’t read a previously blog – Offa’s Dyke was ordered to big dug by King Offa – king of Mercia from 757 to 796. The trench is always on the Welsh side for extra defence. The trench is still there as too is the dyke.
Then almost straight down into the next valley following Offa’s Dyke but before that, a short plateau where we had 360 deg views. I just love it when you get views like that and can hardly see any civilization – gives me a wonderful sense of passion for walking and the stunning countryside that’s on my door step.
The stream in this valley must be a tributary to the river Unk, then, as it doesn’t seem to be named on the OS map but joins the Unk at Mainstone. So then crossing a substantial foot bridge over a bursting stream and up into Nut Wood where we took a bridle way NE back to meet the Kerry Ridgeway. It’s road from here but I noticed that all the way along adjacent to the road runs the old ridgeway track – a pity that it’s not a foot path. On our left we passed Caer Din, an iron-age fort. I couldn’t resist running up to the top to see the views even though the light was fading by now. A great spot for a picnic and that’s one thing recces are for, to find all these memorable and ideal locations.
Brilliant – I can’t wait to walk it again!