Offa's Dyke Path National Trail

A personal record of my walk of Offa's Dyke Path National Trail with written journal and photographs. Tracklogs for GPS units and for use with Google Earth are available for download for each stage.

Journal, Photographs and Download Files

Stage 11: Monmouth to Brockweir
Google Maps Open Source Maps

Statistics and Files
Start: Monmouth Finish: Brockweir Distance: 10.0 miles (16.0 km)
Time: 4-5 hours Climbing: 716 metres Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Offa's Dyke
Start: Monmouth Finish: Brockweir
Distance: 10.0 miles (16.0 km) Time: 4-5 hours
Climbing: 716 metres Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: From my early morning Facebook post, 14th May 2015: Good morning from Offa's Dyke Path. It is the penultimate stage from Monmouth to Brockweir today. It starts with a sharp climb from the town to the Kymin and the viewpoint at the Naval Temple. I should see Monmouth being poured on by rain! I then follow a parallel line to the River Wye to Upper Redbrook before reaching Highbury Wood National Nature Reserve. On I go still keeping a line above the Wye through woodland before descending to Gweir Bridge. Back up I go to cross a network of fields to my destination. It should take me around four hours to cover the ten miles so I will be making a later start than I have being during the walk. I will gauge how the weather is before setting off.

Wet morning in MonmouthWet morning in Monmouth
River WyeRiver Wye

"Crikey it is raining heavily" were my first thoughts on waking in my Monmouth accommodation. I could hear the noise of pouring rain on the roof and the clattering of it on my bedroom windows. I remained in bed and put on the TV, waiting for Carol Kirkwood to tell me the bad news. "Rain all day, heavy at times". She confirmed my worse suspicions. Had Carol promised better conditions I would have held off from starting the eleventh stage of my Offa's Dyke Path walk. But with no hope of reasonable respite until much later in the day I went down for my breakfast, returned to my room, packed my rucksack and left the premises to be on my way. Still it was almost 10.00am, I had delayed as much as I possibly could It was a miserable sight on Monnow Street. Wet and drab, the complete opposite to the dry and bright I had arrived to yesterday. I moped up the street, head down and unsmiling. Just like everyone else. At the top of the street, near to Shire Hall, I turned right and headed down St Mary's Street, on my way to cross Wye Bridge. I paused on the bridge briefly to look at the River Wye and then I turned to look up to the Kymin. I could not see it due to the low cloud and rain.

Bluebell carpet in Garth WoodBluebell carpet in Garth Wood
Holloway through Garth WoodHolloway through Garth Wood

From Wye Bridge I walked to the foot of May Hill. "Let the climb begin" I muttered under my breath while raindrops dripped from my nose. A 230 meter climb over the next mile would at least keep me occupied. And with much of it in the woodland of Garth Wood and Beaulieu Wood I would be sheltered from the worse of the rain. So it proved. And to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the climb. I know these woods and the Kymin from my visits to family in Usk and I knew I would have fun walking on the well maintained paths, in the deep ruts of the ancient holloways and on the walking beside the Bluebell carpets which compliment these mature woodlands which have been enjoyed by the people of Monmouth for a very long time. The Woodland Trust description of Beaulieu Wood states "This historic ancient woodland site overlooking Monmouth and the river Wye has a dark 'fantasy' feel about it with a path winding through large moss covered boulders and ferns and gnarled and twisted birch and beech trees for company". A spot on description. The beauty of the woodland walk passed in no time and I had forgotten about the rain temporarily while in the midst of the trees. Over 200 meters had been climbed over one mile in forty-five minutes and I had arrived at the top of the Kymin.

The Roundhouse on KyminThe Roundhouse on Kymin
Relentless rain while walking along Duffield's LaneRelentless rain while walking along Duffield's Lane

Out of the woods and across the open ground on Kymin summit took me first to the Roundhouse. With my head down to avoid a facial drenching I gave the building an appreciative glance and walked on towards the Naval Temple. As a matter of note, the Roundhouse is probably the most viewed building to the people of Monmouth and travellers on the A40. The whitewashed exterior of the Roundhouse draws the eye to it, sitting in a clearing at the very top of the Kymin and clearly visible from down in the Wye valley. At the Naval Temple I sought sanctuary from the rain and found that four other walkers had beaten me to it. Allowed to huddle in shelter with them we chatted. They were two couples from the Midlands on a walking holiday in the area. Today was the worse of their trip weatherwise but they still made the effort to climb the Kymin from Monmouth. They were heading straight back down for refreshments in a cafe later. I wished them well with that and was about to bid them goodbye but on hearing the story of my Offa's Dyke walk they said they may see me tomorrow. "We're walking around Chepstow tomorrow so you never know" said one of the group. "That would be nice" I replied before wrapping up in my rain gear again, bidding them and the Admirals of the Naval Temple, and walking off into the pouring rain. Following Duffield's Lane to Upper Redbrook was not much fun. With no woodland shelter I was fully exposed to the elements. They rained down on me.

Looking down on RedbrookLooking down on Redbrook
Water vapour risingWater vapour rising

Eventually, and thankfully at the time, I reached the end of Duffield's Lane and arrived in the relative sanctuary of habitation in Redbrook. I reached the village by walking under the arch of Redbrook Incline Bridge, a bridge on a significant slope which once ran a tramway. Without realising I was back in England again and with the River Wye forming the border all the way to the Severn Estuary my walking in Wales on Offa's Dyke Path was done. I would still see Wales a lot though, straight across the river I was keeping close to all the way to the finish. In its heyday Redbrook was a center of industry for the Wye valley with many industrial sites including mills, an ironworks, tinplate works and copper works. It was very quiet now and apart from one old lady braving the weather to go to the local shop I saw no one. Even the A466 Wye Valley road was quiet. I walked alongside the valley road for about 200 meters before climbing from valley bottom to Highbury Wood and my halfway point of this miserable day. An observation made during today's walk: The funny thing about rain in summer is that sometimes condensation rises and rain falls at the same time. The complete meteorological water cycle at work in front of ones eyes. At least seeing the rise of water vapour during rainfall was a remarkable sight in the grim conditions.

Even the sheep sought shelterEven the sheep sought shelter
Ancient Sweet Chestnut in Bigsweir WoodAncient Sweet Chestnut in Bigsweir Wood

Highbury Wood National Nature Reserve was delightful to walk through and I imagined it would have been one of the prettiest of all on my walk had the sun being shining. Bluebell fields were scattered all around the woodland floor and the smell of Wild Garlic, now in full flowering white, filled the air, defying the incessant rain hitting the tree canopy shielding the woodland floor. One thick blanket of Bluebells was interspersed with the purple of Woodland Sage, a very beautiful sight. Woodlands such as Highbury Wood and other woodlands of the lower Wye Valley are considered one of the most important areas for woodland conservation in Britain. The wide array of tree species and woodland flora are testament to that. No wonder the Wild Boar thrives around here. From Highbury Wood I walked on more lanes, across more fields and then through Wyeseal Wood and Slip Wood to reach a stretch of tarmac road walking down to Bigsweir Bridge. I did not cross the bridge into Wales, remaining in Gloucestershire on the English side by walking into the Bigsweir Estate. Here found the largest and probably the oldest Sweet Chestnut trees I have ever seen. They were humongous.

Following a lane to BrockweirFollowing a lane to Brockweir
Pond at my accommodationPond at my accommodation

Though I had been climbing and descending all day with significant climbs of around 250 meters to the Kymin and of around 150 meters to Highbury Wood I had been okay. The third 200 meter uphill haul up from the River Wye though from Bigsweir Bridge through Bigsweir Wood to Hudnalls Farm took it out of me though. I was getting fatigued by the unrelenting wet weather now. It is always more tiring walking in the extra weight of full wet weather attire. And it makes one sweat too. It does me anyway. I hauled my way up through the wood, sometimes on narrow unmade paths and sometimes on man-made wooden steps. It was all hard now and I was glad to reach the roads and lanes linking homesteads and farms between Cold Harbour and my destination of Brockweir. An hour of walking on narrow lanes, B roads and through woodland copses later and I had arrived at Mill Hill, my accommodation near Brockweir. It was 4.30pm. My lovely hosts let me dry out all my wet gear in the hall. I washed, changed and walked from Mill hill into Brockweir for a couple of pints and dinner. The Brockweir Inn was something else. Old worldly, small rooms, toys and games areas, bookshelves, upholstered sofas, comfy chairs, it was fantastic. And the locals I spoke with were so friendly. Had I lived there it would be my local. After my enjoyable evening in the inn I walked back up Mill Hill to my accommodation and crashed out very contented.

From my evening Facebook post, 13th May 2015: Just eight miles to go now on my Offa's Dyke Path walk. Today was rain, rain and more rain. I arrived at my Bed and Breakfast in Brockweir drenched and shivering with cold. Still the walk was full of interest with the woodlands divine. Bluebells and Wild Garlic provided a blue and white flourish. A great day despite what the elements threw my way.

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