An intro to... The Offa's Dyke Path

Have you ever wanted to walk the Offa's Dyke Path? Here is a very quick introduction to this historic trek along the boundary between England and Wales.

Where is it and how far is it?

The Offa's Dyke Path starts in Sedbury, near Chepstow, and finishes in Prestatyn 177 miles later (285km). This well waymarked walk can easily be fitted into a two week holiday and, although long, is not too difficult.

034 Offa's Dyke Path by Mike Dunn

Who was Offa and what is his dyke?

Offa became the king of Mercia in 757 and inherited a set of poor defensive ditches designed to protect his kingdom from invasion. Around the time of 780 King Offa organised the strengthening of the existing dykes by making the ditches deeper and piling the earth into high banks. All 'facts' about this are merrily disputed as there is little real evidence remaining. Still, Offa's Dyke would have posed a considerable challenge to incomers from the Welsh side and, in some places, the bank is as high as 8 metres today.

Why should you walk it?

Who doesn't want to walk along Britain's longest linear earthwork? The Benin Iya of Nigeria is impressive, but hotter and more expensive to get to.

114 Offa's Dyke Path by Mike Dunn

When should you go?

The Offa's Dyke Path can be enjoyed in any season but the shorter days of winter may scupper some of the longer stages. You would also need to prepare for winter conditions, particularly on the high hills. The bluebell woodlands in springtime are a particular highlight.

Where should you stay?

There are areas of this walk that are remote from towns and services and accommodation must be carefully planned. Where accommodation is available may be at a premium during busy periods such as the Hay on Wye festival or at the time of the Grand National in Chepstow. The Offa's Dyke Association produces an accommodation list.

Best bit:

The oldest stone-built castle in the UK just happens to be in Chepstow and is utterly spectacular.

More Information:

The Offa's Dyke Association

The Offa's Dyke Path guidebook by Mike Dunn

The National Trails guidebook by Paddy Dillon

Have you walked the Offa's Dyke Path?

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