On account of the fact it seems we’re fair weather campers these days, we ended up walking a few miles further than we intended today. We were only about a mile and three quarters from the Offa’s Dyke trail marker so off we fucked as the sky threatened to release a thousand furies. Sure enough it started to rain. We stopped and applied a layer of waterproofs to ourselves. By the time we got to the trail head it had stopped raining, the sun came out and we melted. Fine then, crisp packets off.
Right, here we go. 177 miles up the old border between the Kingdom of Mercia and Wales. “But what the actual fuck is Mercia?” I hear you cry. Before England was united it was divided into several kingdoms and Mercia was a particularly vast one bordering Wales. The king at the time, Offa, built a fuck off big earthwork on the border, 27 metres wide and 8 metres high in parts to keep the Welsh out so the general dickheadary of the English started way before England was even a thing.
Today was a lot of woodland walking, but you know what it wasn’t? Completely fucking overgrown. I’m glaring pointedly in your direction, Somerset. The trail today was a joy to cruise along unhindered by every spiky plant known to these damp isles trying to relieve us of strips of flesh. Glorious! Eyehole fodder was few and far between though on account of aforementioned woods, it was just a bit of a plod but it wasn’t by any means unpleasant.
The rain started up again so we just huddled under trees until it eased off enough to get going without waterproofs, then the sun came out again. Sigh. That’s how it was going to be then. We continued our woodland plod and as we emerged into a field the skies opened again a and started dumping quite substantial quantities of wet shit onto our day. We retreated back into the woods but it just got worse and worse until even the woods were no shelter. Fuck it. Full waterproofs back on then.
It pissed rain for a while as we trudged along. You know what this path seems to lack though? Benches. When the weather deigned to give us a break we decided not to plonk ourselves on the sodden ground for lunch because, y’know, wet arse, plus we’re super aware that ticks exist, and kept our eyes peeled for anything resembling something we could sit on. Nope, absolutely fuck all.
The path splits with both routes being official. You can take the high route or head down to the river for a lovely, flat (albeit half a mile longer) stroll along the Wye. We opted for this, the theory being it might be a change of scenery, plus there might be somewhere nice to have lunch.
Brockweir used to have a pub but the mighty Google advised us it was permanently closed so we didn’t bother going looking for it. There was, however, a bench just as we got to the river! This would serve as the perfect place to assemble some wraps for facehole applications as we talked about where we wanted to stay tonight. I was getting anxious about the thought of wild camping again, especially as it was forecast more pissing rain. If you’d told me 78 days ago I’d be the kind of person to go fleeing to Booking.com at the first sign of adverse weather I’d have been all like, PFFT! AS IF! whilst doing my best indignant face.
I called the Bell Inn in Redbrook but it turned out they weren’t doing rooms this year. They mentioned a couple of other places but one was a right fancy looking hotel so that was out. The other he said was a traditional B&B called Tresco. A quick Google found a couple of mentions of Tresco Guesthouse on a cycling website so I called the number and a woman answered.
“Is… sorry is this Tresco Guesthouse?” I asked.
“Yes it is,” she replied. I asked about a room and she was asking what we required before she remembered that she couldn’t “put us up tonight” as she had to get a bus early tomorrow morning.
Righto! Monmouth it was then which was a few miles more than we wanted to do but you know what? If I know I’ve got a definite place to stay and that place has a roof, a soft bed, and a hot shower I don’t mind a few extra miles. It’s psychological isn’t it. Brain was happy. Feet were a bit like, what the actual fuck?!
More woodland plodding ensued. We got to Redbrook and thought we’d quite easily smash the last few miles until we saw the elevation profile which was quite a hideous looking incline followed by a decline that neither of my knees would be happy about. Tell you what though, your eyeholes will reap the rewards when you get up to Kymin. Holy fucking hell, I’m not sure I had enough eyeholes in my head to take it all in! Views for miles!
Down the hill into Monmouth, and my poor feet reluctantly carried me through town to our hotel. Oh my gosh. Sitting down. Best thing ever. The guy on the front desk recommended a local Indian restaurant for dinner, then you know what I had afterwards? A fucking bath! I think it’s rude to turn down a bath if there’s one available. And as we were staying above a pub I had a brandy in the bath and it was glorious.
Guys, this is just how I want to hike now, it’s so enjoyable just knowing where you’re going to end up. We really can’t afford to keep getting rooms though. We’ve booked another for tomorrow then we’re going to have to start thinking about campsites if I’m going to continue insisting on actual accommodation rather than precarious pitches in random fields.
Day on LEJOG: 37
Day on Offa’s Dyke Path: 1
Distance walked today: 21.22 miles
Total walked so far: 951.05 miles
Weather: Overcast all day, rain in the morning, some of it heavy.
Coldest temp last night: Not recorded
Trigs bagged: 0
Trigs to date: 50
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 9
Tick tally: Tarrant 3 ; Claire 4
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Cas-gwent (Chepstow), Sir Fynwy (Monmouthshire) to Trefynwy (Monmouth), Sir Fynwy (Monmouthshire), Wales
Stayed at: The Riverside Hotel, Monmouth
Useful shit to know…
- The only amenities along here are in Chepstow, Monmouth, and the pub in Redbrook. There’s a shop in Redbrook too.
- Chepstow and Monmouth are fair sized towns with good sized shops and public toilets.
- Tresco Guesthouse can be contacted on 01600 712325 or 07833 514250 but there’s no indication on the voicemail that it’s anything other than a private residence. I don’t know what Mrs Evans charges as she couldn’t take us.
BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Accommodation, Riverside Hotel: £30
Dinner at Jewel Balti: £22.50
Grand Total: £58.30