Spectacular landscapes on Offa. An 8.5 mile walk along the Shropshire Way from Llanymynech to Oswestry Racecourse. This walk shares some, but by no means all, of its route and signage with Offa’s Dyke Path. The Welsh and English landscapes are both spectacular and rewardingly rich in history and nature whether your interest is general or specific.
Some steep uphill sections
Lat/Long: 52.7817811305, -3.0890745033
You could well see a peregrine falcon near Llanymynech rocks, in addition, experience what that falcon sees in flight, such are the views on offer. You can physically enter the limestone landscape by wandering right into the old Welsh limestone quarry above Llanymynech, where the engineered terrain has now gone thoroughly native. Take a moment to rest on a former spoil tip where the ‘Border Viewpoint’ will give you a toposcopical view of local landmarks near and far.
If you are unsure of the time look down at St Agatha’s Church in Llanymynech and be grateful, as the rock men were in 1844, for industrial knitting machine inventor Robert Robert’s gift of an oversized clock, to let them know when it was time to go home and to let you know that it’s time to press on.
Llynclys Common – green and now greener
Blodwel Rock with its vertiginous glimpsed views of the Moelydd and the Tanat Valley lies at the higher end of Llynclys Common Nature Reserve. The transition between the two is marked by Jacob’s Ladder – in reality a set of steps! Llynclys Hill is a rich limestone environment on which more than 300 plant species have been recorded including fairy flax, twelve kinds of orchid and seven types of St John’s Wort. You may even catch sight of a green woodpecker pecking ants from carbuncular anthill formations. Though natural, this Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve needs to be managed. Grazing, inevitably involving fences, keeps down invasive scrub and bracken and allows the springy herb-rich grassland to flourish.
Trefonen – green and once black
Offa’s Dyke, like the Shropshire Way which follows it on and off, passes through Trefonen. No coincidence then that next to the Barley Mow pub (01691 656889 for opening hours) is the Offa’s Dyke Brewery.
Trefonen once shared coal mining and brick making with regular agricultural pursuits. On a former spoil heap you will see two interpretive sculptures and behind them, a mine shaft head with a fascinating safety fence. The landscape around you is replete with lumps and bumps that denote the spoil from widespread underground workings. Further south on the Shropshire Way between Gronwen and Sweeney Fen, the route of the light railway that transported coal from the south Oswestry coalfields to the limekilns at Llynclys is easy to spot.
Candy Woods – green and brown
If you like a deciduous wooded hill walk along clear trails then Candy Woods is your heavenly stairway. It even has a stone carved seat half way along where miners would rest on their long but seasonally beautiful walk to work.