Friday, August 12, 2011

Offa’s Dyke 0: Chepstow and Sedbury Cliffs

Mike and Munson at start of Offa's Dyke trail
It’s a great feeling being on a walking trail again; not so great when maps and signposts don’t align. It took more time than expected to find the start of the trail as signposts would lead to a three-way junction with no further indication of which to take. The map scale was insufficiently detailed to pick out these details or get a compass bearing. Eventually I found a local who put me on the right track and warned me that local kids on the nearby housing estate had great fun in turning around signs on the path.

Heading for the start of the trail

The approach to the trail start was very pleasant and because the starting stone sits on a small cliff overlooking the River Severn we would be seeing it again as we back-tracked on our “official” trek north. On the way up to the cliff, we passed through a livestock gate, the first of many hundreds to follow, and with the way ahead of it clear, I was able to let Munson off leash for a spell.

Munson looks over the River Severn
At the top we looked out towards the Severn Bridge. Sedbury itself is already on the English side of the border, along with the stretch of river we see here. The Severn is the UK’s longest river and opens out into the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel, the body of water between Wales and SE England.
Sedbury on River SevernMunson on Offa's Dyke starting stone (1)
Munson on Offa's Dyke starting stone (2) Munson on Offa's Dyke starting stone (3)

When walking coast to coast, I like to make sure we touch water at both ends, so I took Munson down to the river’s edge. There were no cows around so he had a good run around and a swim. The inset in the picture below shows the point on the cliff where the trail stone sits.

Playing by the Severn at Sedbury

From the starting stone we retraced our steps to the road, and followed a winding course through a housing estate with street names like Norse Way (to treat a lady? maybe not) and Offas Close. I dodged one small segment that was wedged between a fence and overgrown shrubs, not wanting to try to cut through it in case it was just a misdirection by local kids.
Through Chepstow #1
The trail really meanders around Chepstow, behind houses, along streets and through parks and fields. All the time I’m looking for the small stickers with the National Trail acorn emblazoned on a yellow arrow. Oftentimes it’s quite faded or hidden amongst a bunch of other municipal logos.

Through Chepstow #2
We remain on the English side of the border for the entire walk until I decided to wind up today’s effort on Tutshill roughly as far north as our B&B in Sedbury. We’d followed a long field up hill past the ruins of a watchtower, rounded a bend and found the path cut through a herd of cattle leisurely stretched from one side of the field to the other. I couldn’t see a clear way around them so we lingered for a while around the tower and wearily returned to the start of the field. From there I found a shortcut across the A48 back  to the B&B.

If we’d been here in the mid-70s we might have seen a young Joanne Rowling who was at school in both Tutshill and Sedbury. Harry Potter’s teacher Severus Snape was based on teachers at these schools. For those completist collectors, her childhood home is on the market.
Tutshill watchtower
I set Munson up by the car with some food and water but he wasn’t really interested in either. Even a passing parade of ducks failed to stir him.
Munson sleeps   ducks
I drove into Chepstow (crossing the River Wye into Wales) to find myself some dinner, and hit gold with The Boat Inn which had a great menu and was very dog friendly. I elected to sit outside with Munson as it was a balmy night and he’d spent enough time sitting in the car of late. Sadly he still didn’t have much of an appetite, and I decided it would be better all round if he didn’t sleep indoors with me tonight. I set him up comfortably in the car and retired to my room for an early night.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see your posts again and to hear about the new pc. It took me a few minutes to remember that you like to back-date your posts to coincide with the actual timing of events...

    Looking forward to more.