Sunday 24 April
Overcast start, 15 minutes of spitting rain, clearing to blue patches later
A decision needed to be made last night: to make an early start today so as to finish the walk, or split the final 21 miles into two days. For a number of reasons (including the lack of buses to our village if we were to travel home on a Sunday), we decided to split it.
At 4.30 this morning I woke up and after lying there for half an hour I gave Mick a violent shake and whispered quietly in his ear "Are you awake?". He grunted, which I took to be a "Yes".
"As we're both awake" I said "we may as well get walking." He grunted, which, I took as agreement and so I put the kettle on.
At 6am we were walking. At 6.30 we were stood atop my final Marilyn of this trip, Moel Famau, which didn't require any diversion at all; ODP goes right over its summit. There would have been a second Marilyn later in the day, but in return for getting up super-early I'd volunteered to omit it. It's so close to the A55 that it can easily be picked up when we're passing sometime.
From that first tower-adorned top, the route then goes along the ridge, and stays up high (well, except for a couple of long dips to cross roads) for a good while. All quite lovely it was and a highlight of the trip. Moreover as, contrary to the forecast of heavy rain all morning, we hadn't just packed away a dry tent, but we were walking without waterproofs too. And, course, at that hour of day, we had it all to ourselves.
Alas, all good things must come to an end and after a few miles we were back on farmland, and more of ODP's speciality: pointless ups and downs, including the worst example of the route. It was just at the point where we would have achieved 10 by 10, except that a ridiculously steep pull up a field had me so hot that I needed to either take a layer off (knowing I'd need it back on as soon as we levelled out) or to stop a while, so we declared it time for elevenses. It was 9.43 and we had walked 9.75 miles. It was as we sat there that I looked at the map and realised that we were about to finish our climb and descend straight back down to the road we'd just left. To add insult to injury, the road route would have been one side of a triangle; our up-and-back-down route was two sides.
With four miles to go a few calculations were done and it looked like we were going to be arriving in Prestatyn just after the easiest train home. Not really a problem, as although it would have been convenient to catch it, I'd set out this morning anticipating an arrival at least two hours later (that ridge walk had turned out to be far speedier than expected, with good paths and no stiles).
Even so, who can refuse such a challenge? We put a spurt on and arrived in Prestatyn with just enough time to visit the monument at the ODP end, take some photos, nip to the shop for a drink (water had run out at lunchtime) and get to the train station for the easy train. So, once again we finished a walk and spent absolutely no time looking around the destination town. I should perhaps feel bad about that, but I don't (and not just because we were in Prestatyn in the relatively recent past anyway).
So, a successful trip completed, including 6 of my 8 intended Marilyns. If my memory isn't deceiving me, we had pretty good weather too, with only one morning of precipitation too, which was the snow showers on the morning of Day 3.
My opinion on Offa's Dyke Path as a whole, now that we've done the whole thing (ish. We did take quite a few deviations from the defined route, but we did walk from its start point to its end point), is that I won't be rushing to repeat it. It does have some excellent bits and some good bits, but they're joined by too much farmland walking to put the walk into my "enjoyed that so much I'd do it again" list. As for the pointless ups and downs, not to mention the with-a-purpose-but-unrewarded ups and downs, I will say that they served our purpose (i.e. a getting fit training walk) very well indeed.
(Gargh! So much for rushing to catch the easy train home. I've been typing this at Crewe station waiting for our connection. We let a slower train go, because we were told the next one would get us there earlier. Foolish mistake - the later one has just been cancelled.)