A lovely start to the day but thunderstorms had been forecast for the afternoon so I set off early. I crossed the road bridge over the canal which looked peaceful in the early morning.
I was standing on the Welsh border. On the north side of the bridge I turned on to a side road. The road climbed steeply, past a sign telling me that Charles Darwin, on a geology field trip, visited Llanymynech and was taught to make measurements with a clinometer to measure the angle of slope.
I continued up the hill to the Border Viewpoint which overlooks the Vyrmwy valley and Breiddon Hills. Behind me was the Llanymynech quarry and its brake drum house. The drum house housed a winch to lower rocks to the Welsh side of the border but this was superseded when a tunnel was cut through to the English side making it much easier to move the rock. An information board tells the story of a Thomas Savin who decided to make extra money by using enough explosive to extract a month’s worth of rock in a day. His profit was lost as he had to spend it on repairing the roofs of local householders damaged by the explosion.
I left Wales and spent most of today in Shropshire. The path contoured around Llanymynech Hill, passing through woodland to emerge at a golf course. It ducked back into woodland alongside the fairway before turning steeply downhill. I crossed a disused railway line that had been laid to transprt stone from a nearby quarry, unusually the rails were still in place. I joined a road at the village of Porth-y-waen and followed this for about a mile before crossing a field to enter the village of Nantmawr. Now it was time to climb steeply up a lane to a footpath that entered the woodland nature reserve of Jones Rough. I have no idea how it got its name. In the wood there was a cottage that almost exactly looked like my idea of Granny Weatherwax’s cottage in the Discworld books.
The path emerged from the wood as the slope eased and I soon arrived at the top of Moelydd. This was a superb viewpoint. I could see the Snowdonia mountains in the West and Alderley Edge to the East, I felt as if I was nearly home.
I met up with another ODP walker who I have seen several times over the last few days, I have forgotten to record his name.
There was now a long but easy descent across farmland to Trefonen. The pub has a microbrewery but, sadly, is only open in the evenings. On the other hand, it meant I didn’t get lost in the afternoon. Instead I bought a pasty and a soft drink from the village shop and, suitably refreshed, re-entered farmland to the north of the village. I rejoined the Dyke which I would follow for several miles.
I entered Candy wood and, after a short but steep climb I followed the Dyke through light woodland. According to the Cicerone Guide it is said a black panther was sighted here in 2013. No big cats were present today. In the wood there was a stone seat apparently built by quarrymen or miners.
At the top of the hill I emerged into a clearing at the old Oswestry Racecourse. There was a statue of two horses heads and a saddle at the entrance to the clearing.
The old racecourse was in use in the late 18th and early 19th enturies. It was a 3Km figure of eight course and the track can still be seen (and followed) today. An information board says that Jack Mytton used to race his horse here and named his son after one of his winners, Euphrates. There was a grandstand here In the 1840s the course became less popular, partly due to “rowdy behaviour” and partly because as rail and road transport became better established it became easier for the local owners to try their luck at larger racecourses, e.g. Chester. Now only the footings of the grandstand remain.
About two thirds of the way along Racecourse Common the path came to a B road. I crossed the road and continues along a lane for about a mile. A footpath led off across fields accompanied by the Dyke. I skirted the slopes of Selattyn Hill and the path joined the Welsh/English border. I descended to a road at Craignant. The path then continued through farmland until it started to descend steeply to Bronygarth. I could see Chirk castle across the valley.
At Bronygarth I left the ODP to head down lanes into Wales, Chirk and the Hand hotel. There was a small diversion because of a collapsed path and I entered Pentre Wood to descend to the river Ceriog. I crossed to the left bank to enter Wales (the border runs along the river) and continued to the aqueduct and rail bridge across the river. The aqueduct was designed by Thomas Telford, as were so many bridges at that time. It is navigable and a narrowboat crossed the aqueduct as I walked underneath.
I then climbed steeply uphill to the road bridge and turned left to Chirk and the Hand Hotel.
There was a short delay at reception as the previous occupant of my room had left with the key and it took a short while to procure a spare. While I was waiting the OPD walker I had seen on and off for a few days arrived. I cannot believe I did not write down his name in my notes! Especially as we decided to eat dinner together which made a very pleasant evening. Good home cooked food. I remember he lives in Befordshire, is ex-army and has two sons in the military, one in the navy and the other in the army. If he reads this many apologies, my social ineptness knows no bounds.