Offa’s Dyke – Day 13
Bodfari to Prestattyn (12 Miles)
The forecast for the last day was not good, persistent rain expected from around lunch time. There was no sign of the rain as I packed away my gear in fine sunshine. In keeping with the previous twelve days, there was one last stiff climb to start the day and it made slow going as the weary legs protested at the early activity. This was an mix of quiet lanes and field walking, and I couldn’t resist stopping and enjoying the views as the path gained height.
A long road stretch had me gritting my teeth as the feet began to protest, but as ever, relief appeared in the form of a section across farmland, this time with a moorish feel to it.
Just before the descent into Rhuallt, I stopped to chat with a local dog walker, only for almost all the walkers that I had met over the previous week to appear at the same time.
We convoyed down the hill together towards the rather grim intrusion of the busy A55. As we entered the village the promise of a pub was somewhat alluring, but the one marked on my guidebook map (I was using quite an old edition), had shut and was now a private house.
The rain started as I left Rhuallt, slowly at first then settling into a persistent drizzle. This was another steep climb out of the village with some fine views to the south, but it was now batten down the hatches time with the waterproofs coming on.
The remainder of the day was just a seemingly endless plod, small back roads, fields and short moorland stretches passing by in a daze, although the remains of a massive water wheel did entice me to take one of the few photos from the afternoon.
It was with some relief that soon after, the path began its traverse along the top of the cliffs above Prestattyn. I could almost see the finish below me, and knowing that I was so close to the finish, I almost cried when a long flight of steep and rather treacherous steps appeared to take the path higher up the cliffs. It was a slow descent into Prestattyn, and my last place of abode the fantastic Plas Ifen Chapel was enroute. Looking like a drowned rat I rang the bell. I was due to camp in their garden, but with the dreadful rain I was offered the floor of a small wooden cabin which doubled as a wash room for campers. I gratefully accepted the offer, meaning I wouldn’t have to be stricking a soaking tent in the morning, saving me a bit of time.
I sorted myself out then, without the backpack (this felt like cheating) I walked the last mile and a half to the finish. The cafe there was open and as I entered the other groups of walkers were there warming up as well. I ordered a pot of tea and sat down, as we congratulated each other on finishing the walk.
Day Rating – 8/10
A decent enough day but spoiled a bit by the rain after lunch. In the end I was just glad to get to the finish and dry out. I can’t complain about the weather though, in 13 days walking, this was the first properly wet day. Not a bad return! As ever the finish was a huge anticlimax, more so for having walked such a distance, but there was a nice sense of satisfaction that I had made it!
Trail Rating 120/130 (92%)
What a fantastic trail. It started impressively and just kept getting better. Despite the sore feet and tiredness, every single day had at least one point where I was walking with a big grin on my face. The scenery and variety of landscapes that the trail passes through are so varied, and for those with a bit more time there is plenty of historical interest along the route. The middle section is often described as “the boring bit” and, having walked the length of ODP it is easy to see why. It is a bit unfair to describe it as “boring”, but in comparison to the rest of the walk its…well…meh.
I would, however, recommend following the canal from Pool Quay rather than using the official route. Although I walked the waymarked route, in retrospect the can; may have been a much more enjoyable option (is that the purists I can hear with a sharp intake of breath!).
Two mountain ranges, countless hill forts, castles, interesting towns and villages, pubs (very important), beer (even more important) and some of the most stunning scenery. The one regret is that I never had enough time to explore places like White Castle, Chirk Castle and some of the towns enroute, but I was walking to a tight schedule.
This was also my first long one (since the North Downs Way almost 10 years ago) and my first solo effort over this distance. The route is streets ahead of any other trail I have walked in the UK and I think will be very difficult to top. If you only ever walk one trail in the UK – this has to be at the top of the list!