Photography: Wales 2005
After coming back from Spain, I had three weeks left over before heading off to South America. I decided that after eight weeks of concerted dissipation in the bars and clubs of Salamanca, I needed something fairly physical to round it off. A brief look on the Internet revealed the existence of a national footpath in the UK, running through the border country between England and Wales, from Chepstow to Prestatyn, much of it along the remaining sections of Offa's Dyke. This 8th century earthwork is believed to have been built by king Offa of Mercia to delineate the western border of his realm. Today, it survives in fragmented sections, which nevertheless still display, in places, the magnitude of the original undertaking.
Not having sufficient time to complete the entire walk, I decided to do the part of it from the South of the Black Mountains to Prestatyn, some 35 miles less than the complete walk. In the event, I managed only eight days of walking, over a distance of just under 100 miles, before problems with my equipment forced me to stop. Nevertheless, the weather was generally good, and despite the shortness of the days, I enjoyed myself.
The first day was a mixture of cloud and driving rain, not really suitable for photos. On my first night, it snowed, leaving a thin blanket of white over the Black Mountains, and the country around. The first photo was taken half way up the mountain, shortly after sunrise. The view is east towards England. The second view, again looking East, was taken perhaps half an hour later, and some 200 meters higher up. The Malvern hills are just visible to the left of the centre of the shot, on the horizon. The third view is again looking East, this time showing some of the summit ridge of the Black Mountains. The walk along the top was made harder by a 50 kph north wind, blowing in my face for the first three hours of the walk along the top. Needless to say, I was very glad to get down off the ridge and start my descent into Hay-on-Wye. Along the way, I stopped to take the fourth photo of the set.
The third day saw a considerably warmer and stiller day, and some of the snow from the day before began to melt. The view above was taken early in the day, looking back towards Hay-on-Wye (not visible from here), and the Black Mountains behind.
The town of Knighton, in the Teme valley, marks the half-way point of the complete walk from Chepstow to Prestatyn, and is also the headquarters of the Offa's Dyke Association. These two photos are of the Teme valley near Knighton. In the first, dogs play near the river Teme. In the second, a sheep stands on the hill overlooking the valley.
The last good photo I was able to take on the walk was on leaving the Shropshire hills, on day 6. The following day the weather was foggy and the light poor, and the day after that, it rained all day. Unfortunately, I had to abandon my walk at that point, due to problems with my boots. Nevertheless, my time in Wales remains as something very special in my memory.