The 32-strong group range in age from 49-81 years, and members believe they could be the largest group with the highest average age ever to undertake the whole walk.
The free party for Offa’s Big 40, held at Chepstow’s Drill Hall, was an opportunity for the ramblers to put their feet up for once and share their memories of their walking feat with other guests who have enjoyed following the trail through the stunning Welsh borderlands since it was opened in 1971.
The event was organised by adventa, the county’s rural development programme, to mark the importance of the trail in Monmouthshire.
Organiser Louise McGuinness, adventa’s festivals and events co-ordinator, said: “The party in Chepstow celebrated the wonderful walking country around Offa’s Dyke and the fact that the trail itself runs through parts of Monmouthshire and takes in sights of some of the county’s important heritage.”
The Offa’s Dyke Trail is a long distance walking route which runs for 177 miles along the England/Wales border from Chepstow to Prestatyn, where practicable following the Offa’s Dyke earthwork. The route starts at Sedbury Cliff in Gloucestershire, before diving into the suburbs of Chepstow, from where there are superb views across the river to the Castle. It follows the eastern side of the Lower Wye Valley, providing views of Tintern Abbey from the Devil’s Pulpit and a wonderful vista over Monmouthshire from The Kymin. It enters Monmouth by the Wye Bridge, follows Monnow Street to the historic Monnow Bridge and then heads off through the Monmouthshire countryside towards Pandy, taking walkers through the beautiful Vale of Usk and past White Castle, before leading across to the Black Mountains and beyond.
The Lower Wye Ramblers on the Offa’s Dyke Trail near Redbrook. Photo: Terry SummersThe Lower Wye Valley Ramblers took three years to complete the 177-mile trail, attempting it in stages. They started from Prestatyn on 27 May 2007 and, passing through hills, valleys, woodland and mountains, finished at Sedbury Cliffs on 23 May 2010. Completing the walk entailed 11,000 vehicle miles, 380 hotel nights and, they estimate, contributed around £20,000 to the Offa’s Dyke economy.
Walk leader, Terry Summers, said: “The Offa’s Dyke path runs through the most beautiful, deserted countryside. It’s brilliantly signposted from end to end. You hardly need a map, guide or compass. In fact, one of our members insisted on using a guidebookand kept getting us lost!”
At the party, the group shared some of the photos they took on their epic journey with fellow walkers. Many party-goers brought their photos with them to contribute to a photographic timeline of the trail.
The Lower Wye Ramblers look at the photographic timeline of the Offa’s Dyke path. Photo: Gareth KiddieThere were also light refreshments and live music from Chepstow based acoustic band Shootin’ the Crow. Guests also had the chance to sign up for one of several guided circular walks which take in parts of the Offa’s Dyke path and which are being held as part of the Monmouthshire Walking Festival from October 21 – 31. Festival organisers were in attendance to give more details of the walks, which include The Piercefield Walk on Thursday October 27 and the Offa’s Dyke and Hewelsfield Common walk on Saturday October 29. The festival programme also includes a walk led by the Lower Wye Ramblers – one of their favourites, it’s called Where the Curlew Calls and it gives outstanding views to the Black Mountains and Blorenge. For more details about these and other walks in the festival programme visit the websitewww.walkinginmonmouthshire.org.