After three days of driving across to Llangollen to start my walking I have decided to walk from the site today. After the rain yesterday it is forecast to be another scorching day so before heading off I make sure I have plenty of water for both Crosby and I.
Leaving Domo CL I walk across the now familiar Old Oswestry Racecourse. Crosby and I have been wandering around here first thing every morning for our early exercise. Today we are going north on the Offa’s Dyke National Trail Path so I follow the way-markers through the racecourse.
It is thought that racing started here in the 1600’s on a two-mile figure of eight track. Race meetings are reported to have been popular, drawing large crowds; they often turned into rowdy affairs. In the 1840’s attendance was falling, this coupled with the arrival of the steam railway providing access to larger courses, meant this course fell into decline and it closed in September 1848. Parts of the old track still remain as does the ruins of the grandstand.
The site is now a wildlife reserve popular with dog walkers. Soon after crossing the B4580 the Offa’s Dyke Path leaves the Old Racecourse to continue along the route of a minor road to reach Carreg-y-big. Here I cross a stile and follow the way-markers, this section of the National Trail follows the actual route of Offa’s Dyke.
The path leads to a farm at Orseddwen where the way-markers direct me to a stile besides a gate leading to a track running along the edge of fields of pasture.
On reaching the edge of woodland the Offa’s Dyke Path goes to the left through a gate. There is a finger post here with an information board and I head right towards Selattyn Tower.
The path leads along the edge of the woodland then enters the woods by a gate. Here the way-markers show the path leading through shrub and the route is not clearly defined. It is obvious others have walked this way but it is a bit overgrown. Eventually I reach the remains of Selattyn Tower. This was built in 1847 as a belvedere, which apparently is a summerhouse with views. Reportedly it was constructed to mark the death of Prince Gwen, a sixth century prince, who, according to legend, was killed during a battle between the British and the Saxons near Morlas Brook, which runs close to the hill.
The tower stands on the site of a Bronze Age ring cairn and during its construction twelve urns each containing burnt bones were discovered. Because of its prominent position it served as an important viewpoint during World War II and was guarded by the Local Defence Force. Now the trees surrounding the tower limit the view.
My OS Map shows a trig point in close proximity to the tower I search to no avail, then look it up on a trig pointing website. (I know its is sad, but such a thing really does exist!). It appears that others have encountered similar difficulties, but I persist and eventually with the aid of the OS maps app on my phone pinpointing my exact location and giving a grid reference, I manage to find the trig.
This is the eightieth bagged and by far the hardest to find. I don’t think Lynnie would have hung around whilst I searched for this one! But it is worth it, because it’s a real beauty.
From here I had planned to pick up the Shropshire Way but unfortunately no matter how hard I look I can’t spot the route or any way-markers. Eventually after a frustrating spell I retrace my steps to the point where I had left the Offa’s Dyke Path and then turn left to head back across the fields to reach the driveway to the farm at Orseddwen. Here I turn left and walk along the drive to reach a minor road. This is a very rural location and the road is nothing more than a tarmacked track.
At a junction I take a turning to the right sign posted to the Old Racecourse and Oswestry. I follow this road for a few hundred yards to another junction and turn left following a sign to Pant-glas and Gobowen. About three quarters of a mile along I reach another junction and turn right towards Pant-glas. It is now a very hot afternoon and Crosby is getting low on water, we go through a section of woodland and are grateful for the shade. The map shows water running besides the road, but unfortunately despite yesterday’s rain the stream is dry.
Continuing into Pant-glas we stop at a junction and drink the remainder of our water. Crosby lies down for a rest and on getting up I notice that tar from the road has melted and is on his coat. A short distance on I turn left at a junction following a sign for Oswestry.
Soon I am heading under a disused railway bridge.
On reaching a junction with the B4579 I turn right and walk carefully besides this busy road for about a quarter of a mile before crossing the road to take a track leading to Pentre-pant, after passing the grand house I plan to take a footpath across fields on my right. However, there are a large number of cows with calves in this field and I err on the side of caution, staying on the main track. Soon I go through an arable field to reach two metal gates. There is no way-marker but I work out from the map that I require the gate on the right. This leads through a field of sheep and then another of recently weaned calves to reach a farm at Cross Lanes. Going through the farmyard I then turn right along the road heading to the Old Oswestry fort.
On reaching the gateway to the hill fort I leave the road to head uphill to have a wander around. According to English Heritage this is one of the best-preserved Iron Age hill forts in Britain. It was occupied around 800BC to AD 43. Archaeological research has shown the series of ramparts were developed over years; it remains an impressive site.
Returning to the road I turn left and then after a short distance take a footpath on the right leading around a playing field. There is a game of cricket going on so I stop under the shade of a tree and watch a couple of overs. It is over twenty years since I played cricket, but I still miss the camaraderie of the game.
From here I wander through streets into the centre of Oswestry. The Saturday market is being cleared up and Crosby enjoys the food that has been dropped form the many street vendors. As much as he loves wandering around the countryside I am sure his favourite walks are those through towns, especially if we pass a fish and chip shop.
Before heading back to the caravan I make a slight diversion within the town to walk across to the Shelf Bank Nature Reserve behind the railway station. Unsurprisingly the reason for my detour is to bag the trig point on top of the hill. In contrast to the trig near Selattyn Tower this one could not be easier to find. It is right by the pathway and becomes my eighty-first. Unfortunately surrounded by trees it does not provide a view point.
The route back is through the centre of Oswestry and then follows the pavement for two miles besides the B4580 to reach the old racecourse where we turn left and wander back to Domo CL. Our walk has covered fifteen miles and both Crosby and I are ready for a good drink, a rest and a cool down.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 240 – Oswestry
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)