Excerpt from Step Eleven: Walk in Progress

Trail Guides—Offa’s Dyke Path
Robin, our British walking companion, is keeper of the Offa’s Dyke Path–National Trail Guides (printed in two volumes, North and South), as we make our way toward Knighton. The volume he’s using is protected inside a nylon case, which hangs from a long cord about his neck. The map case is an accessory sported by all properly attired, in-country ramblers.

When Robin wants to check a map or read about the path, he flips up the case and reads through its clear plastic side. I like to glance over his shoulder at the Ordnance Survey map printed in the book to inspect its converging contour lines and preview the hills ahead. Topographic lines do not lie, and when I see them bunching together, I groan.

Today, my curiosity is short-circuited. Robin raises and lowers his map before I am able to inspect its topo lines. Satisfied, he says, “No problem. Very good. Carry on.”

Seeing the twinkle in his eye and the Brecon Beacons looming in the distance, I don’t need a map to tell me that the way ahead is up. Then down and up again. But I am confident that, once the topo lines have been scaled, the views of green expanse will be worth every uphill step.

“Very good,” I repeat. “Very good indeed.”




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