An Introduction to Offa's Dyke Path

The iconic earthwork of Offa’s Dyke, the longest linear earthwork in Britain, stands as a stunning testament to the determination and skill of its creators, being a defining landscape feature of the Welsh borders. Here is an introduction to the historic trek that follows the path.

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An overview Map of Offa's Dyke Path


How long is Offa's Dyke Path?

Offa's Dyke path is 177 miles long (285km).

Where does the path start and finish?

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.

Who was Offa and what does it mean?

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. You can find more information at the Offa's Dyke Association website.

Offa's Dyke Path - Front Cover

Offa's Dyke Path

National Trail following the English-Welsh Border


This guidebook describes Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, a 177 mile (283km) long-distance walk along the English-Welsh border between Sedbury (near Chepstow) and Prestatyn. The guidebook is split into 12 stages with suggestions for planning alternative itineraries. With OS 1:25,000 map booklet.

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How hard is Offa’s Dyke path?

Although long, this walk is not too difficult.

This trail is massively adaptable but does involve some parts that require a good level of fitness to complete in one day, meaning it can be as relaxing or as intense as you make it. This flexibility allows people to tackle it at their own pace, we would advise looking into the different stages and evaluating how long you’d like to take on each.

When should you go?

Excellent walking is available in every season, with bluebells carpeting the woodland floors in spring, wildflowers and butterflies in summer, heather moorlands in late summer and the golden hues of the autumn bracken, and the crisp delights of sunny winter days.

Bear in mind, though, that the high hills can sometimes be unforgiving in winter conditions, and that daylight hours in winter may be too short to allow the completion of some of the longer stages.

What do I need?

There has been an increase in the number of providers offering luggage transfer and accommodation booking services, which makes for much more convenience.

You will need to pack:

  • A good pair of lightweight walking boots should be able to cope with the whole of the trail, including the moorland and mountain expeditions
  • A decent set of waterproofs and spare warm clothing is essential to deal with the unpredictability of the weather in the area.
  • The relevant maps should always be carried, and a compass and (especially in woodland areas and on the moorland in the Black Mountains and on Llandegla moor, which have few landmarks)
  • A GPS unit could be a useful addition.
  • Adequate supplies of food and water, a camera to capture the best of the scenery and binoculars for wildlife-watching also need room in the rucksack.
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Useful Information:

Offa's Dyke Path Accommodation

The opportunity to take a flexible approach to walking Offa’s Dyke Path depends to a large extent, of course, on the availability of accommodation and other facilities at key points along the way. The National Trails website has some useful suggestions, while a detailed list, updated annually, is compiled by the Offa’s Dyke Association.

Communication on the Path

While wi-fi internet access is increasingly available in cafés, pubs and hotels in the Welsh Borders, it is by no means universally available. Mobile phone signals are restricted in coverage and somewhat erratic – especially in the central Marches, where there are quite large areas such as Clun Forest that have virtually no coverage.

Transport in the Area

In some places – as shown on the trek planner – facilities are pretty scarce, and a bit of ingenuity may be needed to construct a personal itinerary. Having said that, creative use of bus services can solve many of the problems: for example, the excellent bus service to Ruthin can be used to overcome the dearth of facilities in Llandegla, with the additional benefit of an evening in a delightful Welsh market town.

Offa's Dyke Map Booklet - Front Cover

Offa's Dyke Map Booklet

1:25,000 OS Route Mapping


Map of the 177 mile (283km) Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, between Sedbury (near Chepstow) and Prestatyn. The trail takes 2 weeks to walk, and is suitable for walkers at all levels of experience. This compact booklet of OS 1:25,000 maps shows the full route, providing all of the mapping you need, and is included with the guidebook.

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Offa's Dyke Path Stages

Find a quick summary of the stops recommended in the Cicerone Guide, written by Mike Dunn, alongside a more detailed description of each stage below.

1Sedbury Cliffs - Agincourt Square, Monmouth29km (18 miles)7–9hrs
2Agincourt Square, Monmouth - Lancaster Arms Guest House, Pandy27km (17 miles)6–8hrs
3Lancaster Arms Guest House, Pandy - Butter Market, Hay-on-Wye28km (17½ miles)7–9hrs
4Butter Market, Hay-on-Wye - Kington Museum23 km (14½ miles)6–8hrs
5Kington Museum - Offa’s Dyke Centre, Knighton23km (14 miles)6–7hrs
6Offa’s Dyke Centre, Knighton - Blue Bell Inn, Brompton Bridge24km (15 miles)7–9hrs
7Blue Bell Inn, Brompton Bridge - Offa’s Dyke Business Park, Buttington20km (12½ miles)5–6hrs
8Offa’s Dyke Business Park, Buttington - Llanymynech Canal Bridge17km (10½ miles)4–5hrs
9Llanymynech Canal Bridge - Castle Mill, Chirk22km (13½ miles)6–7hrs
10Castle Mill, Chirk - Llandegla Church24km (15 miles)6–8hrs
11Llandegla church - Bodfari28km (17½ miles)7–9hrs
12Bodfari - Prestatyn Seafront20km (12 miles)5–6hrs

Detailed Breakdown:

Stage 1: Sedbury Cliffs - Agincourt Square, Monmouth

  • Distance: 29km (18 miles)
  • Time: 7–9hrs

The first section of Offa’s Dyke Path is also one of the best: indeed, it is widely regarded as one of the classic walks of lowland Britain. The walk requires a good level of fitness since it follows an undulating route on the edge of the Forest of Dean, repeatedly descending towards the Wye and climbing again along ridges high above the gorge, and it may be worth considering tackling the route in two stages, perhaps with a break around Bigsweir.

Stage 2: Agincourt Square, Monmouth - Lancaster Arms Guest House, Pandy

  • Distance: 27km (17 miles)
  • Time: 6–8hrs

The trail crosses a corrugated landscape of small fields and minor valleys, leaving behind the Wye valley and gradually rising towards the foothills of the Black Mountains. As long ago as the 1870s the predominant land uses were sheep grazing and cider and perry pear orchards, and superficially little has changed. There are few villages and only a scatter of farming hamlets, so there is a surprising feeling of remoteness.

Stage 3: Lancaster Arms Guest House, Pandy - Butter Market, Hay-on-Wye

  • Distance: 28km (17½ miles)
  • Time: 7–9hrs

An exhilarating yet surprisingly easy traverse of the eastern ridge of the Black Mountains, with the Llanthony valley to the west and the Olchon valley in Herefordshire to the east. The 28km (17½-mile) main route requires reserves of stamina, however, and walkers may want to consider breaking the journey in Llanthony or Longtown, and climbing back up to the ridge the following day. In bad weather the low-level route via Llanthony, Capel-y-ffin and the Gospel Pass is a sensible alternative.

Stage 4: Butter Market, Hay-on-Wye - Kington Museum

  • Distance: 23 km (14½ miles)
  • Time: 6–8hrs

This section of the trail begins with easy riverside walking – a complete contrast to the preceding stage – but it should not be underestimated since it soon rises to cross the rolling border country of western Herefordshire and south Powys. The route lies across Little Mountain and Disgwylfa to the remote hamlet of Newchurch, but a particular highlight is the trek along the outstanding former drovers’ road, Red Lane. The stage ends with a wonderful traverse of the stunning Hergest Ridge, with easy ridge walking and extensive views in all directions.

Stage 5: Kington Museum - Offa’s Dyke Centre, Knighton

  • Distance: 23km (14 miles)
  • Time: 6–7hrs

This is Welsh Marches walking at its finest: not too demanding but full of interest. The scenery is spectacular, with wide-ranging views, and the national trail is reunited with Offa’s Dyke after an absence of more than 80km (50 miles), following long stretches of the very well-preserved ancient monument across remote hill country.

Stage 6: Offa’s Dyke Centre, Knighton - Blue Bell Inn, Brompton Bridge

  • Distance: 24km (15 miles)
  • Time: 7–9hrs

This is the toughest section of the trail, with some steep (although reasonably short) climbs and some equally steep descents as the Dyke – superbly preserved in places – heads directly and uncompromisingly across the green hills of south Shropshire, which are unhelpfully aligned from east to west.

Stage 7: Blue Bell Inn, Brompton Bridge - Offa’s Dyke Business Park, Buttington

  • Distance: 20km (12½ miles)
  • Time: 5–6hrs

The walking on this section of the trail is substantially less challenging than the switchback section through the south Shropshire hills, with a delightfully gentle passage through the historic landscape of the Vale of Montgomery, with big hedged fields and parkland now occupying the floor of a former glacial lake, followed by the traverse of the Long Mountain. Offa’s Dyke Path cuts through a classic high-Victorian estate here, with evidence of some of the innovations that marked out Leighton Park, before climbing to the hillfort of Beacon Ring and descending into the Severn valley at Buttington.

Stage 8: Offa’s Dyke Business Park, Buttington - Llanymynech Canal Bridge

  • Distance: 17km (10½ miles)
  • Time: 4–5hrs

The walking on this stage of the trail is very straightforward, marking the transition between the rolling hills of the middle Marches and the slightly sterner North Wales hills that lie ahead. The respite is welcome but the attractions along the route should not be underestimated, with delightful stretches alongside the River Severn and a towpath walk of exceptional ecological and historical interest on the Montgomery Canal.

Stage 9: Llanymynech Canal Bridge - Castle Mill, Chirk

  • Distance: 22km (13½ miles)
  • Time: 6–7hrs

This is a fascinating day’s walking, although it is occasionally difficult to navigate as the route twists and turns through the Oswestry uplands. The waymarking is good, however, and the walking is never difficult, while the variety of landscapes is exceptional.

Stage 10: Castle Mill, Chirk - Llandegla Church

  • Distance: 24km (15 miles)
  • Time: 6–8hrs

This is a wonderful and extremely varied day’s walking, passing the intact fortress of Chirk Castle and the short-lived, ruined Castell Dinas Bran, crossing Thomas Telford’s world-famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (an alternative route caters for those without a head for heights!), skirting below the dramatic limestone outcrops of Trevor Rocks and Creigiau Eglwyseg, and crossing heather moors populated by the elusive black grouse on the way to the mountain-biking mecca of Llandegla Forest and the village of Llandegla.

Stage 11: Llandegla Church - Bodfari

  • Distance: 28km (17½ miles)
  • Time: 7–9hrs

The journey along the long, undulating ridge of the Clwydian hills – the narrow range dividing industrial Deeside from rural Denbighshire – is one of the highlights of the entire walk. A near-continuous scarp slope to the west divides the ridge from the Vale of Clwyd, centred on the medieval castles and market towns of Ruthin and Denbigh. The trail uses a succession of green lanes in the Clwydian foothills, rising to the ridge at its central, highest point to visit the iconic Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau, and passing a string of superb hillforts crowning most of the major summits.

Stage 12: Bodfari - Prestatyn Seafront

  • Distance: 20km (12 miles)
  • Time: 5–6hrs

This final stage of the trail occasionally needs care in route-finding as it twists and turns among the low hills and valleys in the northern part of the Clwydian Range. The walking is easy, however, on lanes and field paths, with an increasingly impressive panorama of Snowdonia and the North Wales coast from the Great Orme to Deeside.

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