After taking a three day break in the hope that the rest would help, my leg was unfortunately no better on today's hike. My schedule was based on an average of 19/20 miles a day but today I struggled to complete 11 miles over flat ground along the Offa's Dyke Path following the Montgomery Canal and River Severn to Llanymynech, where I obtained a room in a pub. On the upside the weather was the best so far.
I left Llanymynech and the Montgomery Canal and immediately crossed the border into England and Shropshire. As I reached some prominent limestone cliffs on Llanymynech Hill, I stopped to take in the far reaching views over the flat vale I had crossed the previous day. The day was once again fine and sunny with the promise of warm temperatures to come. My leg was still nagging away at me although the painkillers were doing their job. The views, although a little misty, were beautiful and I could just make out the Breidden Hills I had passed the day before. Near the village of Nantmawr, I climbed to the summit of Moelydd Hill from where I had stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding area. Later, I passed the site of the old 18th Oswestry race course with the remains of the grandstand standing forlornly next to an information board telling the history of the course. The figure of eight racecourse fell into disuse when the coming of the railways meant that owners could easily travel to grander courses. During the afternoon, the route traversed rolling hills and as the distant Chirk Castle came into view, this signalled the end of the Offa's Dyke Path for me and as I reached a small rural road, I followed it into the town of Chirk with excellent views of Chirk acquaduct on the approach to the town. After a quick phone call, I was disappointed to learn that the campsite didn't accept tents and the local hotel was full. I walked the first couple of miles of the Maelor Way, my next trail, before eventually finding a barely suitable spot in woods to pitch my tent.
|Misty view of the Breidden Hills from Llanymynech Hill|
The following morning, I was up and walking by 7am and as it was quite cold, wore my down jacket for the early part of the walk. The early section of the walk traversed a lofty ridge with great views of the surrounding countryside back towards Chirk. This part of the walk passed through woods bedecked in wild garlic, the air thick with the pungent aroma. Soon, the path reached the River Dee, the size of which surprised me as it was quite wide and fast flowing. I then encountered a short section of path where I struggled to find a secure foothold as the route crossed what appeared to be very wet, deep red clay. I took one step at a time, making sure that I had a good base from which to launch myself on to the next foothold, which I tested with my trekking poles before stepping off. As I approached the village of Erbistock on the far bank, I stopped in amongst the wild garlic to absorb the idyllic scene as the bells of the village church rang out across the Dee. On reaching the village of Overton, I purchased food and drink from the village shop and sat in the churchyard to eat breakfast. I finished the day by walking into village of Hanmer where I stayed in a small hotel.
The next morning I made a decision to find another hospital to get a second opinion on my leg. Looking at the map, I decided to head for Stoke-on-Trent as I knew there would be an hospital there and I would also have the chance to meet-up with a good friend I hadn't seen for a few years. I walked the five miles or so from Hanmer to Whitchurch on quiet country lanes where I caught the train to Stoke. Here, I visited the hospital where I was advised that my leg was infected and needed at least a weeks rest and a course of antibiotics. The LEJOG curse had struck again