(176 miles, 9/12 days)
Offa’s Dyke Path passes close to the entire border of England and Wales. The full route links Sedbury Cliffs, near Chepstow on the Severn Estuary with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the north Wales coast. The route passes through 3 areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the Clwydian Hills, the Shropshire Hills and the Wye Valley as well as such enticing areas as the Clun Forest, the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains and the Vale of Clwyd. The path crosses the border no less than 20 times and for a good chunk of the way follows the great dyke that King Offa of Mercia built, to separate his kingdom from the Welsh ‘heatherns’. Offa came to the throne in 757 and dedicated his kingship to expanding Mercia’s south and east borders. To that end he wished to block off his western borders allowing him to concentrate on his weaker easterly neighbours.
Offa’s Dyke walk does not slavishly follow the route of Offa’s defensive position. There is a good chunk missing in the Wye Valley, probably due to it being thick forest 1200 years ago but the line of the dyke is followed on either side and to particularly good effect around the Clun Forest. The actual construction of the dyke is of a built up bank with a series of disconnected spoil holes (not continuous) usually but not always on the west side. It is most clearly followed over the higher land where the drop from bank to hole can be 30 foot; it is great to walk and view in places but non-existent in others. Do not get the impression that Offa’s Dyke walk is a continuous walk on a high bank – this is rare indeed!
Most walkers go south to north as the views going away from the prevailing weather and with your back to the sun is better. Having said that there is nothing more miserable than a bitter northerly!
Suitable For: As Long Distance footpaths go this is relatively tame. This is not underestimate the amount of high, often exposed land it passes through but only as a comparison top some of the others. There are regular opportunities to stop and each day does not have to be over long.
The 9 maps below run from south at Sebury Cliffs north to Prestatyn as this is the most common route. There are some distance indicators below each relevant map.
Sedbury Cliffs to Monmouth 17.5 miles
Monmouth to Pandy 17 miles
Pandy to Hay on Wye via Black Mountains 17.5 miles
Hay on Wye to Knighton 25 miles
Knighton to Buttington 26 miles
Buttington to Llanmynech 11 miles
Llanmynech to Cloud Hill near Froncysyllte 16.5 miles
Cloud Hill to Llandegna 13 miles
Llandegla to Bodfari 16 miles
Bodfari to Prestatyn 12 miles
O/S Maps which cover Offa’s Dyke (from south to north): 013, 014, 126, 137, 148, 161, 162.
Places to Stay
http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/offasdyke/index.asp?PageId=1 The official and sanitised guide to Offa’s Dyke.
http://www.offasdyke.demon.co.uk/ An excellent guide from the independent voluntary Offa’s Dyke Association