In spring 2019 the Offa’s Dyke Association will launch its walkers’ Passport scheme for Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail.
Many other trails in the UK and abroad have their own passport schemes. In Spain, the Santiago de Compostela has its ‘Pilgrim’s Passport’ while nearer to home the Wye Valley Walk has run its own scheme since 2009. The Hadrian’s Wall Path passport, perhaps the most successful of the National Trail passports, has operated very successfully since that trail opened in 2003.
The Offa’s Dyke Path ‘Passport’ will be a paid for souvenir. There are annual costs associated with running the Passport but once the expenses have been met then the aim is to use the surplus towards paying for conservation projects the length of the Dyke and National Trail. Walkers will effectively be making a donation towards the long term conservation and welfare of the monument.
In the past two years the Conservation Fund has made four grants, with one more in the pipeline, towards conservation works along the Path and Dyke. So far the money has come from our charitable reserves but our aim is to increase the amount available for conservation projects and for that to happen we need the Passport to be a success.
We hope, therefore, that walkers will agree to make a small contribution towards the well being of the Path and Dyke. We propose to charge £5 per Passport, the same as on Hadrian’s Wall Path where the passport there runs on a very similar basis. (At this point I should admit to the fact that I set up the Hadrian’s Wall Path Passport in 2003 and managed it until February 2017 when I left my role of National Trail Officer on the Wall).
We also hope that walking companies will want to encourage this form of visitor payback by buying the Passports for their customers.
The Stamping Stations
We are planning on establishing around ten or eleven ‘stamping stations’ (small wooden boxes, see attached photos) along the National Trail. We are carefully selecting locations where responsible local businesses or community groups will be able to keep an eye on the outdoor 24/7 stamping boxes.
The next steps
As soon as we have signed-up the full set of stamping stations then we will design and print the Passports; our goal is to start selling them later this year, certainly before Christmas. In keeping with our aim, wherever possible, of supporting local suppliers the Knighton ‘Men’s Shed’ has agreed to make the stamping boxes for us and they will be ready for setting out in time for the start of the first passport season in our 50th anniversary year.
Watch this page for the latest news. It will be updated regularly as stamping stations are signed up and as plans progress.
We are nearing the end of this season but plans are already afoot for next year, our 50th anniversary year. In fact there is so much to do that we have set up a separate steering group to plan next year’s events. Keep an eye on the new ‘ODA at 50’ page and remember, if you live in a village or town along the Dyke or National Trail and would like to organise and affiliate an event to our 50th birthday celebrations then pleas get in touch. So far we can report that walks are planned for next year in Chepstow and Kington.
2018 is a year of transition for the Offa’s Dyke Association because having lost our TIC funding from Powys County Council we are financially very much on our own. Our goal this year is to break even and then to kick on in 2019, making the most of the publicity surrounding our 50th anniversary.
Donations are now more important to us then ever before. If you have enjoyed your visit to the Offa’s Dyke Centre then please consider making a donation. The Centre has a donation box but you can also make a donation via this website.
At our AGM in May we simplified our membership categories. We now offer ‘Individual’ membership at £20 per year and ‘Joint / Family’ membership at £25 per year. We very much value our loyal membership who enable us to carry out our educational work here at the Centre and to maintain our Conservation Fund. In the past two years we have grant aided four conservation projects with one more in the pipeline for later this year.
We also have a new membership category for charity / not-or-profit / community groups at £20 per year. Contact the Centre on 01547 528753 or email email@example.com to request a pdf application form. If a group runs an amenity useful to walkers, for example a community shop or café, then the membership fee entitles the group to a website advertisement. See the Llandegla community shop advert at https://offasdyke.org.uk/where-to-stay/accommodation-on-offas-dyke/
Small shops and tea room / cafés can join for £25 per year and have the same advertisement.
The Offa’s Dyke Centre presents its first ever art exhibition with a collection of Offa’s Dyke inspired paintings by artist, textile designer, lecturer and accomplished sportsman Mick Ward.
Mick Ward was born in Essex in the 1930s. An artist, textile designer and art lecturer Mick spent much of his working life in Leicestershire.
In his younger days Mick was both a top sportsman as well as an accomplished artist. For thirteen years he worked as a textile designer for Courtaulds and taught at the Bath Academy of Art and then Leicester Polytechnic where he taught textile design and drawing. In 1973 Mick became a published author with Art and Design in Textiles published by Van Nostrand Reinhold.
In the 1950s, Mick was also considered to be one of the best cyclists in the country; unusually, he had the rare ability to be able to compete over any distance – and at the highest level. Mick won sprint events on the track at Herne Hill and a number of road races, but it was his achievements in Time Trials which brought him to the attention of the public. This early1950s self-portrait is of a determined young sportsman with clear goals in life.
Sixty years ago, in June 1958, Mick won both the 25 mile & 50 mile National Road Time Trial Championships, becoming the first cyclist to win both events in the same year. In cycling terms, these are considered to be ‘short-distance’ events, but in the September of that year, he cycled almost 260 miles to come second in the National 12-hour championships. The following year, Mick won his fourth national title and retired from competitive cycling.
During a period that many consider to be a golden era of British Cycling Mick knew and competed against most of the top names including the charismatic Tommy Simpson.
In December 1958, Mick was featured in a five page article, in Sporting Cyclist magazine; he is quoted as saying that “he would much rather be a really good artist, than a really good cyclist”.
Mick also excelled at running and for over 25 years, the Offa’s Dyke Path was used for many of his training runs. The training along Offa’s Dyke Path certainly paid off; at the age of 70, Mick was able to run under three and a half hours at the London marathon – winning his age group. In the same year, he went on to win a medal at the World Masters Athletic championships.
Sixty years on, Mick’s artwork is featured in an exhibition here at the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton. Now in his 80s, Mick has all but retired from competitive running and cycling, but his love for painting continues undiminished. When he has a spare moment, he can often be found in the vicinity of Offa’s Dyke, taking photos and planning his next piece of work. If Mick is present, he’ll be delighted to chat to you and to tell you what he believes is so special about the unique and wonderful Offa’s Dyke.
Mick’s art is on display until the end of August.
‘Little Offa’s’ Throne, the new draw at the Offa’s Dyke Centre – also available for hire by film companies
For many years the Offa’s Dyke Association has carried out the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) function for Knighton under a service level agreement with Powys County Council. At the beginning of 2018 the county confirmed what we already knew, that it had decided to withdraw financial support from all community-run TICs in Powys.
We were not unprepared for the news, in fact the past 18 months or so has witnessed a radical restructure of the business and we are more focused on delivering our charitable aims. Our membership has started to grow again, we have invested in new facilities and equipment at the Offa’s Dyke Centre, there is the new website, meeting room hire is on the up, we have our basement tenant and wherever possible we have reduced costs.
On the charitable aim side we have established our own Conservation Fund, awarding four modest but important awards, without which the conservation-based projects would not have gone ahead. We are the lead client, alongside Cadw and Historic England, for the forthcoming Conservation Management Plan for Offa’s Dyke. After two year’s planning and research the plan will be published in the summer. We are also active members of the Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory and in March this year we co-hosted with the Collaboratory a successful conference, Offa’s Dyke Heritage, here at the Centre.
We have much to look forward to this year. In July the Clwyd Powys Archaeology Trust is organising an Archaeology Day, based at the Centre and in the park in Knighton, with re-enactors and fun activities for people of all ages. We are also assisting the Collaboratory with a public conference in September in Oswestry.
There is of course Offa’s Throne, our new hands-on, or rather sit-on, display item at the Centre. Made possible with generous funding from the Kay Trust Fund it is a serious interpretation of a medieval ceremonial chair, strongly influenced by St Stephen’s Chair in Hereford Cathedral. The carpentry is 100% faithful to the construction and jointing techniques of the early second millennium, likewise the decoration. We hope that visitors and Trail walkers will want to have their photos taken sitting in the chair – in exchange we hope for a generous donation. We might, perhaps, interest film production companies in hiring it out for historical dramas?
Meanwhile we are on the lookout for volunteers to lend a hand here at the Centre. We cannot afford to employ any more staff yet we are acutely aware, as the busy summer period approaches, that the business, in particular the tea room, needs additional staffing.
By the end of 2018 we will know the direction of travel that the ODA and the Centre will be going in. This will continue to be a very challenging year but at the same time let’s Iook forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary here in 2019. To help us get there please consider joining the ODA or by making a donation.
A big thank you to the Backpackers Club for inviting me to talk on 21st April to the Club’s Annual Gathering Weekend, held this year in Newcastle-on-Clun. A large and very friendly audience packed the village hall and listened to my presentation on Offa’s Dyke and the challenges facing its conservation. The Club made a donation to the ODA on the night but since then we have received a number of additional private donations. We are very grateful for all of them. The money will go towards our next Conservation Fund project.