Tag: beer

OFFA’S DYKE PATH PART 4 – Llanmynech to Prestatyn

Offa’s Dyke Path

I’m walking, in stages, Offa’s Dyke Path on the England / Wales Border. A 177 mile National Trail named after the Offa’s Dyke which is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D  http://offasdyke.org.uk/

The last five day stretch Llanmynech to Prestatyn was possibly the best most varied 5 days of walking on the trail culminating in a paddle! This last section included crossing the Clwydian Hill range, great ridge walking providing beautiful views from our dull heights over the surrounding sunlit valleys. Our first and last days were scheduled to be about 10 miles of walking as we traveled from home (the Midlands) and returned home on these days too.

Part 1, 2 and 3 of this walk can be found here http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/offas-dyke-path-part-1/   ,  http://www.jenallenmassagetherapy.com/walkoffasdykepart2/ and https://www.jenafitlife.com/offas-dyke-path-part-3/

Offa's Dyke Path
Prestatyn….177 miles later!

Wednesday 11th October Llanmynech – Carreg-y-big (10 miles)

Rufus and I met our walking colleagues at a friends in Coventry. We traveled on together to Llanmynech to begin our walk at 11am. An initial climb through the leafy glades of Llanmynech Rocks and along past the golf course.. We stopped in Trefonen, a very friendly village with a lovely little shop selling a variety of good foods. A lovely lady commented on my legs! And the shop directed us to the local Church which was open with a loo available at our convenience 🙂
We continued on with great road walking climbing out of Morda valley and through woods.The Dyke once more evident and the wood offering a little shelter on this wet day, to emerge onto Racecourse Common.

Offa's Dyke Path
Racecourse Common – Almost at our first B&B

A mile or so on was our B & B for the night and a lift into Oswestry (The Townhouse) for a great steak, a chocolate pudding and a beer. The B&B was comfortable, the shower rubbish, the breakfast great and the host……….a tad Machiavellian and a crazy driver (85 mph on wet country lanes)….. we lived to tell the tale!!

Thursday 12th October Carreg-y-big – Llangollen (14.5 miles), including a detour to Chirk Castle

Our plans for walking this day were fluid or at least we changed them, thus facilitating a better Day 3!  The day started on the Dyke once more through farmland, woodland and into Shropshire. After a  long climb, we took a short diversion across fields to Chirk Castle, in search of a coffee, a seat and a snack! It should’ve been easy but sometimes the National Trust???? The cafe was within the Castle, for which payment was required. The grounds and shop were accessible but did not sell what we required and dogs were not allowed in the Castle!! We managed to circumvent this as one of our party is a NT member and was able to get to the cafe. I tagged along to make my purchase 🙂

Offa's Dyke Path
Chirk Castle

Even after this diversion we reached our B&B Plas Offa Farm Froncysyttle at about 2.30. We decided to continue on to Irish Bridge and along the Llangollen canal to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – Thomas Telford’s brilliant piece of engineering completed in 1805, costing £47,000 and one life.

Offa's Dyke Path
About to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Offa's Dyke Path
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the River Dee

From here we continued through Trevor Hall Wood to Panorama Walk’s limestone crags and scree but easy walking on quiet roads. We then took the descent from the trail to reach the wild waters of the River Dee in the middle of Llangollen at 5ish. We took refuge in a pub; steak & kidney pie and good ale. We then had a lucky break as our B&B host was in town and was able to give us a lift back to our comfy bed and lovely showers. We were welcomed by her pet Macaw!

Offa's Dyke Path
Macaw at Plas Offa Farm Froncysyllte

Friday 13th October Llangollen- Clwyd Gate (13 miles)

Our lovely host gave us a lift back up to the path and scree above Llangollen. We were able to start the day at the right height pleased to have completed a longer day on Day 2.
We continued along the scree walk of Panorama Walk with great westward views and down to the ford at World’s End.

Offa's Dyke Path
The ford at World’s End

From here a climb up to the Grouse moors. With Rufus secured on the lead we made our way across the boardwalks and boggy moor, again a little rain was falling. We found shelter in the Llandegla Wood, a very uniformly planted conifer forest. Rufus was free to wander here.

Offa's Dyke Path
Off the lead and into Llandegla Forest

In the village of Llandegla a lovely village community shop provided a welcome coffee and sandwich stop. It was dog friendly and ran by the lovely people of the community, on our visit being ladies over 65!
The afternoon walk was across farmland to Clwyd Gate where we arrived at 4pm ready for our hosts to pick us up and take us to the lovely converted railway station Eyarth Station B&B. A superb room and a lovely bath preceded a fish & chip supper and a couple of beers at the local pub.

Saturday 14th October Clwyd Gate – Sodom (12 miles)

An undulating day of walking over the Clywdian Hills was ahead of us, it promised to be good weather too.  At this point and probably yesterday too the Dyke is nowhere in evidence!  The weather was dull with low cloud up on the hills, but the sun shone all day in the valleys we were looking down on. At least we were still able to get the great views.

Offa's Dyke Path
Jubliee Tower atop Moel Fammau, highest point of the Clwydian Hills

It was Saturday and it was very busy at Moel Famau with a charity event (100 Ascents) resulting in a lot of people making the climb up to Jubilee Tower. Here we were informed that Prestatyn was 20 miles north and Chepstow 157 miles south! As we walked onwards away from the charity climbers, we were rewarded with glimpses of the Irish Sea and the many wind turbines in sea off the Prestatyn beach.
We arrived in Bodfari at about 4pm, with about 1.5 miles to our B&B in Sodom. However the local hostelry and afternoon sunshine led us to the beer garden with pleasing views over the hills we had just crossed.  Our overnight accommodation was in a static caravan , Karen our host brought us toasted teacakes which went down very well with a lovely cup of tea.  Karen also booked a table at the Salsbury Arms Tremeirchion for our evening meal and provided our transport there and back. A brilliant steak burger and even better ale (£2.90 a pint) specifically brewed for the Inn. Oh I shouldn’t forget the great puddings too. A good nights sleep left me refreshed for our final days walk.

Sunday 15th October Sodom to Prestatyn (10 miles, although after a walk on the beach and along the prom we’d walked 12!)

Offa's Dyke Path
We’ve arrived in Prestatyn, in the October sunshine

Our last days walk began along the quiet lanes, the North Wales countryside was pleasant walking. The footbridge over the A55 reminded us that civilisation was not far away and getting closer. The wind turbines and the sea were getting ever closer but it was still a good days walk. The approach to the seaside town is on the gorse and bracken escarpment of the Bryn Prestatyn Hillside. Finally you have to walk from the back of the town, down the High Street, across the railway line to eventually arrive at the sea, and the end of trail/beginning of trail markers – I spotted 3 of them!

Offa's Dyke Path
A paddle in the Irish Sea at the end of walking Offa’s Dyke Path

Have you walked this route?

Thanks for reading.

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

Read my post on avoiding blisters! Which I managed to mess up on this walk 🙁

Birds spotted on the Llanmynech to Prestatyn stretch October 11th – October 15th 2017.
Only listing birds not seen elsewhere on the Offa’s Dyke Path

Black Headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Oyster Catcher
Cormarant
Green Winged Macaw
Meadow Pippet
Bullfinch
Red Grouse
Jay

 

Bargain weekend away in North Devon

I’ve just had a bargain weekend away, spending less than £140 for 3 days and 2 nights in North Devon.  Ok, ok we were camping and we did borrow a big tent and we do have a car to transport us about BUT I have included our petrol costs.

Camping

My daughters (in their 20s and paying their own share), my dog (Rufus)  and I had the most fabulous break over Bank Holiday weekend in North Devon. We chose to camp for a couple of reasons;

  1. We needed to book for the Bank Holiday weekend but didn’t want to lose too much money if we chose not to go because…
  2. We wouldn’t go if the weather was going to be bad!

So we booked 2 nights at the Little Roadway Farm campsite near Woolacombe, all in this cost us £56.

The Journey

Our bargain weekend away began very early Saturday morning, to steer clear of the Friday traffic and to avoid putting up an unknown tent at the dead of night:). We traveled from Leicestershire to Woolacombe, with a quick coffee stop at the lovely M5 Gloucester services (a family business, a farmshop and no franchises) . We’d prepared some overnight oats (in jars) for the journey, these were a nutritious travel breakfast.

We arrived at the campsite at about 10.30 as the dew was disappearing and the sun came out.  The campsite, although fully booked, was not crowded we had a choice of location on the site, which was not huge but was green, pleasant and the facilities were good. We managed to put up the tent in not much more than 30 minutes.

Bargain weekend away tent
Our pitch!

Woolacombe

All unpacked, we headed off to walk the 1.5 miles to Woolacombe for a well earned drink and some lunch. Woolacombe beach has the Trip Advisor Award for Best UK Beach 2015 and 2016 , it is a large beach, very well equipped and it was busy as the day was warming up.

Bargain weekend away walk to wool
The walk to Woolacombe

The beach may be good and dog friendly but the town itself was a bit too (tacky) seasidey 🙁 for us! Lots of buckets and spades, arcades, ice creams, crazy golf……..all the good stuff! The walk back across the fields was lovely. We chilled at the tent, basking in the glorious sunshine before changing and heading off to Ilfracombe for the evening.

Bargain weekend away Wool
The view over Woolacombe

Ilfracombe

We parked the car near the small harbour surrounded by cliffs and met Verity! the controversial Damien Hirst statue that stands at the entrance to the harbour overlooking the Bristol Channel over to South Wales. What do you think of Verity?

Bargain weekend away Verity
Verity by Damien Hirst

Before dinner we had a wander around the town and hit upon the Beer Festival, right up my street so a local ale overlooking the sea was enjoyed. We had booked into the Blacksands Bistro for dinner , a family run bistro serving homemade, locally sourced, honest food. We sat outside, so Rufus could stay with us. As it gets chilly in late August evening the chiminea was lit and blankets provided (we didn’t need the latter).

Bargain weekend away Bistro
Our table reservation at Blacksands Bistro

We ordered a cocktail whilst we perused the menu, which had some lovely choices and local produce.

Bargain weekend away Bistro
Blacksands Bistro Cocktails

I chose a trout and cous cous dish, the girls had a cured meat platter and a chicken dish, all very delicious.  Our food was fabulous; the dessert choice was limited (and expensive) so we opted for a locally made ice cream en route back to the car.

Bargain weekend away Bistro
Blacksands Bistro 🙂

Our first night’s sleep went well, I was a little chilly but not uncomfortable. We all had to get up in the night for a wee, not ideal! Rufus was a star and slept soundly. We were woken early by the cockerel and the cows on the nearby farm.

Croyde

Sunday morning – our plan for the day was to drive to Croyde for brunch, have a walk and then find a beach.  We sat outside at The Stores and feasted on avocado on toast with a side of bacon, slugged down with a good coffee.  We watched the world go by at this busy corner of this lovely village.

Bargain weekend away Croyde
Sitting outside The Stores Croyde – Sunday brunch

Later we then walked directly towards Croyde Bay, near a campsite that looked more like a festival site with tents tightly packed in. The sun was up and it was heating up, people were flocking to the beach, not dog friendly.

Bargain weekend away Croyde Bay
Croyde Bay – crowded beach

Our plan was to walk along the coastal path up to Baggy Point (National Trust), from here we could see Woolacombe beach, it was also very busy, although the end near Putsborough Sands appeared quieter. The walk was glorious with great views.

Bargain weekend away wool bay
From Baggy Point across Woolacombe Bay

We headed back down to Croyde and dropped into Blue Groove for a drink, a popular place but plenty of space at this time….everyone was on the beach!

Putsborough Sands

We decided to head for Putsborough Sands, only to find parking was £8.50!!! After a little deliberation we agreed that between us for a full afternoon on the beach it didn’t amount to much. We were right it was worth it, although it was busy and there were lots of dogs, which we didn’t mind!  We walked along the sands and found a relatively quiet spot. We’d changed into our swimming costumes in the public toilets (new and very clean) so we spread out our blanket and settled down to read, people (and dog) watch, play with Rufus and enjoy the sun.

Bargain weekend away Puts
Putsborough Sands

The sea was bracing but we all went for a swim, including Rufus., we soon got in and got used to it. More chilling and an ice cream, left us feeling exhilarated and chuffed with our day.

Back to Croyde

That evening, after a change of plan, we were short of eatery options – Bank Holiday Sunday and we hadn’t booked! We headed back to Croyde and ordered Pizza from the pop-up pizza guys from Stoned, wood fired pizza ovens and great pizzas. We ordered 3 different ones to share, bought some drinks from The Store (see our Brunch) and had a feast.

Bargain weekend away pop up pizza
Stoned pop up pizza at Croyde

Lynton and Lynmouth

After a more comfortable night, we awoke to more brilliant sunshine, great for tent packing! We began to get packed up and whilst the tent dried out we had bacon butties from the campsite store. They were excellent and a bargain. Tent dry and car packed we headed off for a morning and a cream tea “lunch” at Lynton and Lynmouth.  Lovely picturesque villages “where Exmoor meets the sea”.

Bargain weekend away the Lyns
Lynton and Lynmouth

A cream tea had been on our list of things to do on this break and we hadn’t yet achieved it, as we wanted to be heading home before 2pm we decided that it’d be our lunch. The Pavilion came highly recommended we weren’t disappointed.

Home again

We hit the road, beat all the holiday traffic and were home before 6pm. We did miss another unbelievable afternoon’s sunshine and beach opportunity but both the girls were back at work at 8am the next day.

Bargain weekend away homeward
Rufus on the journey home

A great time was had by all, a bargain weekend away and we talked of making it an annual mother and daughter trip. The weather really helped to make it, we ate at some highly recommended (Trip Advisor) places and stayed at a top notch location, all for less than £140 each. North Devon is beautiful well worth a visit and we’ll go back to explore more of it.

Thanks for reading.

Do you have any bargain break suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

 

Jen x

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

For more information about me and my message click here

More family and outdoor swimming fun here

Another bargain break from earlier this year 4 days/3 nights in the Peak District for under £200!

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!

 

 

My walking break in the Peak District

I have just returned from a 4 day walking break in the Peak District.; A fabulous area of the UK and less than an hour and a half “up the road”.

I have always been a keen walker. My former husband and I holidayed a lot in the Lake District in our twenties pre children – wow over 30 years ago! There was a middle time in my life; when the girls were growing up, that long and difficult walks took a backseat, with only the occasional foray perhaps but nothing serious. More recently with my last partner and my dog, Rufus, I have completed Wainwrights Coast to Coast walk and The Cotswold Way. I am currently walking Offa’s Dyke Path in 4-day break sections.

Day 1

Back to the Peak District, I set off on Thursday morning with the Cocker Spaniel, Rufus and my mate Kate heading for Ilam and the B&B ran by the sister of Kate’s work colleague. What a stroke of luck a beautiful location, very comfortable accommodation and brilliant service Garden Farm, Ilam (https://www.gardenfarmpeakdistrict.co.uk/ ). Thanks Debbie!  Rufus was made very welcome and is currently starring on the Garden Farm Facebook page! Rufus made friends in the customary way (bottom sniffing) with the resident black Labradors – Diesel and Marley.

walking in the peak district
The biggest honeysuckle I’ve ever seen at the Garden Farm B&B – beautiful perfume

On arriving, after I’d prepared my feet for walking (see this post) we headed off with a picnic to explore the locality. The first walk of our walking break in the Peak District was a 6 mile walk down into Ilam (via the National Trust loo’s!) and onward to follow the Manifold River towards Thorpe and back again, with a picnic stop half way.

walking in the peak district
Stock Grazing
Please close and fasten the gate
The sign on this gate!

 

We rounded this off with a pot of tea and a Biscuiteer courtesy of Kate. A birthday gift from her work colleagues (thank you).

Biscuiteers

After a rest and a read we headed for the local hostelry The Izaak Newton Hotel for a welcome pint and a good dinner – burger for me and a tomato hash concoction for Kate, all very tasty. Rufus was made very welcome and was given a bowl of iced water.

Day 2

walking in the peak district
Kate and Rufus at Ilam Cross – ready for Dovedale

A good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast set us up for our planned 12 mile walk. We’d decided to walk up Dove Dale past the stepping stones before the weekend hoards arrived!  We were there before 10am and very few walkers were around. Hence I was able to film Kate and Rufus crossing the River Dove (see Instagram @jenafitlife)

walking in the peak district
Crossing Dovedale stepping stones

From here we carried on up the River Dove to Milldale where we partook of a coffee from Polly’s Cottage and watched the ducks on the river before continuing on up river to just beyond Iron Tors where we crossed the river and climbed the steady route up Gipsy Banks to reach the limestone plateau of fields across to Alstonefield.

walking in the peak district
Ilam Rock -Dove Dale
walking in the peak district
Rufus exploring the Dove dale caves

Here at The George we had a pint but we were not tempted by the menu – designed for diners not walkers!  We then headed south via Stanshope and Castern to eventually come into Ilam Park. The weather had deteriorated and we got rather damp, but it was dry enough to sit in the NT Ilam tea garden ( www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak)  and have a good pot of tea and a slice of Derbyshire tea loaf.

walking in the peak district
View from the Ilam Park tea garden

More tea, a bath and some reading prior to heading out for food, having not booked anywhere we ended up back at The Izaak Walton! Red wine, Caulliflower, chick pea and spinach curry for me and Fish & Chips for Kate. Delicious!

Day 3

The weather looked more promising on Saturday, our planned route had no hostelry’s for refreshment. Debbie our host kindly provided a flask of coffee and we had apples and snacks too.  We had another 12 mile circular route from Parwich planned, taking in some of the Tissington Trail and the High Peak Trail. These are both old industrial railway lines now given over to walkers and cyclists. The route culminated in skirting the working Ballidon Quarry and back to Parwich. We hadn’t realised how bright and warm the day had been until we saw the white lines at my ankle/sock/leg boundary!

Saturday night we’d booked in to eat at The Okeover Arms, Mappleton.  A varied menu and good ales, free wifi connected me to the outer world briefly. Did I say we’d had little or no phone or internet reception throughout the trip?  I had a great pint of Okeover Ale to wash down my Steak pie, proper walker’s food! I followed this up with a Strawberry pavlova.  This day led to a sound nights sleep.

walking in the peak district
Okeover Ale

Day 4

Sunday dawned, packing ensued and our last hearty B& B breakfast. Today our plan was to drive to Hartington and walk 6 miles along Beresford Dale into Wolfscote Dale following the River Dove almost to where we’d left it to climb Gipsy Banks earlier in the weekend. We then left the river bed to come back along Biggin Dale to the country lanes that led back to Hartington, a sandwich and a coffee.

walking in the peak district
A mixed Chicken run en route back to Hartington

This brought our break to an end, just the hour and a half drive back to Leicestershire, internet and phone reception!

I would really recommend a walking break in the Peak District. We barely scratched the surface and will definitely be back.

Have you read my blog post on Fitness Challenges? Walking features in it!

Where are you favourite walking routes?

Thanks for reading.

Jen

Twitter @jenafitlife

Instagram @jenafitlife

Sign up to get notified of my new blog posts – pop your email address in the box at the top right of the page. I promise I won’t be sending spam or selling my email list!