Last week, I spent two days with Derek Brockway and the Weatherman Walking crew for a walk along a section of Offa's Dyke in Montgomeryshire.
It was a linear walk beginning in Churchtown and ending in the historic market town of Montgomery with its impressive Georgian town hall and 13th century, hill top castle.
The lovely old town hall in Montgomery
We met up with our walking guide and all round dyke aficionado, Jim Saunders outside a quaint old church in the aptly named Churchtown, (complete with swallows nest in porch) and began with a steep climb up the first section of the dyke.
There was no gentle introduction to this walk, just a steep ascent up through ancient woods and onto the hill tops above, where we were rewarded with stunning views and blue skies.
The dyke is a curious feature of the landscape here, at times - completely man-made and obvious whilst at others, barely recognisable from the naturally occurring hedgerows running through the fields.
Derek and Jim were huffing and puffing like a couple of steam trains by the time we got to the top and sound recordist Mark had a wry smile on his face listening to them on the way up ;)
Derek and Jim on the steep, first leg of the walk.
The forecast for the following day, (Friday) was mixed so we really hoped it lasted as it makes filming so much easier as well as the final programme edit, if the weather stays the same over consecutive days.
Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD and had a vast kingdom that covered the area between the Trent/ Mersey rivers in the North to the Thames Valley in the South, and from the Welsh border in the West to the Fens in the East. Anglia.
The dyke runs for 80 miles from the Wye Valley as far as Wrexham and Jim informed us that it was originally around 25 feet wide and 8 metres high from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the bank and all built by hand - no power tools involved!
An old stone sign marking the dyke route.
I've never walked in this part of the country, let alone along the 1200 year old dyke so it was a real eye opener and although the dyke has suffered from erosion - mainly due to man's activities, there are still some impressive sections where you can clearly see how large it once stood.
The mind boggles but to date, historians and archaeologists have no idea how long it took to build or even how many people were involved in its construction.
Its purpose is also up for debate, although many believe it was defensive; opinions are varied and you can see why.
Some sections of the dyke follow naturally steep hillsides, so it wouldn't have made sense to build a massive defensive wall where nature had already created difficulties for any invading armies? So perhaps, it was purely built as a boundary/ territory marker...
Derek and Jim walk past a section of the dyke where livestock have eroded the sides.
Find out more about the dyke on the Offa's Dyke Association website.
The nice thing about walking along the dyke path is the steady stream of passionate walkers you meet; in what are basically quite isolated spots.
Young and old, some with dogs, some on their own, all appeared along various sections of the dyke during our two days filming here, including some Australians we interviewed for the TV programme.
As we followed the dyke we frequently changed countries, switching between England and Wales as the dyke zigzagged its way across borders and half the time we had no idea whether we were in England or Wales!
Lunch was eaten by the side of the Kerry Ridgeway, overlooking a lovely valley and one of the steeper sections of the dyke.
Jim and Derek inspecting one of the steeper sections of Offa's Dyke.
Evidence of erosion was clearly visible, probably caused by sheep who enjoy scratching around in the mud and scree but badgers are also problem along the dyke as they make their 'sets' inside it.
To the badger it's a perfect set up with nice, soft earth, good banks and sunny facing aspect making it an ideal habitat but watch where you're walking as some of the holes can be pretty deep and easy to fall into!
Heading down into the valley we crossed over a completely dried up river bank - yet more evidence of the dry spring we experienced in Wales this year.
Then it was up another steep hill, hugging a pine forest before we got up onto the top of lucious green fields before crossing over the border back into Wales.
The sun was beginning to sink as we approached a stunning view point overlooking the Shropshire hills before walking down into the picturesque village of Cwm Chapel.
Amazing views over the Shropshire hills
Day two and we picked up the walk where we left off and headed towards Mellington Hall - a Gothic 18th Century mansion which these days, is a popular wedding venue and touring camp site.
The woods skirting this wonderful building were alive with bird calls but a little muddy underfoot but we emerged unscathed at the back of the hall before heading out towards the main road and the remains of a motte and bailey castle in Churchstoke.
I say remains - it's basically a tall mound of earth with trees growing out of it in someone's back garden but worth a look and once had a timber keep on the top. Crossing the stone bridge nearby you once again change countries, back into England.
The next stop was the Blue Bell hotel and pub for a quick chat with the landlady who has been running the pub since the 1960s and whose father owned it before her.
There's an ancient oak tree out front, complete with two equally old petrol pumps (no longer in service) which are well worth a photo if you're passing by.
Derek at the pumps
The weather was beginning to look a little foreboding at this point, with dark clouds circling above us like vultures, so we began to prepare for the worst and dig out the old waterproofs and camera covers.
The walk then crossed over the main road, veering right skirting freshly planted fields of corn before taking us through Lymore Park and Montgomery via the Cricket Club - one of the oldest in Britain, dating back to the 1840s.
Montgomery Cricket Club once defeated the All England team here by 62 runs but fielded 22 players?! So I've a feeling plenty of local ale was drunk on that day...
The weather held and apart from a few showers we made our way into Montgomery, dry and in glorious sunshine with Derek waxing lyrical about the various cloud types on display....cumulus congestus, mediocris etc.
I also invented a new weather description for him - 'scattered sunshine' and 'clumps of rain' so listen out for that one on future Wales Today broadcasts ;)
Once we arrived in town, it was up yet another steep hill towards Montgomery castle with incredible views in all directions. There's not that much left of the castle compared to some in Wales but it's worth a trip up there, just for the panoramic views.
A nearby greater-spotted woodpecker family squeaked continuously whilst we were there but always remained once step ahead of my camera lens, despite my best efforts at stalking them...
We finally returned to base, shattered but in dire need of a curry which we eventually found in Hereford on the way home. Five walks done, three to go and rumour has it, we will be in Pembrokeshire for the next one, so it will be nice to walk on home turf.