Pandy to Hay on Wye 17 miles
This was going to be a long day so I made an early start. As well as the distance, there was about 2200 feet of ascent and descent involving crossing the Black Mountains. There was no sign of Offa’s Dyke today but the highlight was the ridge over Hatterall Hill. The path started opposite the B and B. I crossed the river Honddu and then the railway line and started climbing up to Hatterall Hill. Next to the path was an 11th Century Motte of a Norman castle, now covered with trees.
The first mile or so was along a quiet lane which eventually became a track by an iron age fort.
There was a good view back to Skirrid Fawr. Red Kite are fairly common here and one flew overhead as I passed the fort. The path climbed steadily but easily up Hatterall Hill and after an hour or so I was at the first of three trig point. The English Welsh border runs along the top of the broad ridge and there were great views into both countries.
The Black mountains and the Brecon Beacons are home to the Welsh Pony breed of pony. They used to be used as pit ponies but most of the horses on the moor are feral. I saw several small herds over the course of the day.
The ridge is about 10 miles long and provides great views to the East and West as well along the length of the ridge. After a while the ruined Llanthony Priory could be seen in the Vale of Ewyas on the Welsh side of the ridge. This was an Augustinian priory from the 12th century until the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid 16th century.
I crossed two more minor hills, with trig points along the top. There are several prehistoric cairns and burial mounds along the path. Across the Ewyas valley someone had cut bizarre shapes in the heather
Towards the end of the ridge I reached the highest point of both the ridge and Offa’s Dyke path. It is a featureless mound, with no cairn or trig point to mark its significance.
The ridge is a broad plateau at this point so the views were not good either. In fact, it was difficult to determine when the path actually stopped climbing and began to descend. The path descended and the hills to the north came into view. The route splits for a while. One branch descends along the east side of the hill but I continued along the ridge to Hay Bluff, with its trig point adorned with dragons. Here the views were superb, especially along the northern escarpment of the Brecon Beacons. Apparently you can see the Malvern and Shorpshire hills from here but today they were hidden by the heat haze.
There was now a steep descent down to the Gospel Pass car park. The pass is probably named after a group of crusaders who came here in the 12th century but there is a myth that St Paul preached here. It also claims to be the highest road pass in Wales.
I walked along the side of the road for a few hundred yards.Hay on Wye came into view. I descended across common land to enter woodland. By now I had drunk all my water and was quite thirsty. As I passed Cadwgan farm I saw a sign inviting me to refill my water bottles for which I was very grateful. Suitably refreshed I continued my descent across farmland into Hay-on-Wye and the Old Black Inn.