Offa's Dyke Path
National Trail following the English-Welsh Border
By Mike Dunn
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This guidebook describes Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, a 177 mile (283km) long-distance walk along the English and Welsh border between Sedbury (near Chepstow) and Prestatyn. The guidebook is split into 12 stages with suggestions for planning alternative itineraries. With 1:25K OS map booklet.
SeasonsThis walk is exceptional in all seasons, though the Black Mountains and Clwydian range deserve respect in winter conditions, and especially in mist, since there are few landmarks on the Black Mountain ridge
CentresChepstow, Hay-on-Wye, Kington, Bishops Castle, Montgomery, Welshpool, Oswestry, Llangollen, Denbigh, Prestatyn
DifficultyThe trail includes a couple of unavoidably long stages and there are some mountain and moorland stages, but the route poses no special difficulties and caters for walkers of all levels of ability provided that sensible advance planning is undertaken
Must SeeGeology - limestone gorge of the lower Wye, igneous intrusions around Hergest ridge, Breidden Hills dolerite, limestone escarpments north of Llangollen Uplands - Black Mountain moorlands, remote Clun Forest, Clwydian ridge Lowlands - orchards and meadows, Montgomery canal, broad Severn valley Historical attractions - Tintern abbey and Llanthony priory, border castles, Pontcysyllte aqueduct
This guidebook - which includes both a guide to the route and a separate OS map booklet - describes Offa's Dyke Path National Trail from south to north, following the longest linear earthwork in Britain, running 177 miles along the English-Welsh border between Sedbury (near Chepstow) and Prestatyn on the north Wales Coast. It links the Severn Estuary and the Irish Sea, following the longest linear earthwork in Britain, contouring above the Wye and Dee, visiting hillforts and Norman castles and exploring the hidden heritage of the Marches. The route is exceptional in all seasons, although the Black Mountains and Clwydian range deserve respect in winter conditions.
The guidebook splits one of Britain's classic trails into 12 stages, with suggestions for alternative 8 and 16 day schedules. This is a long but not too difficult walk for walkers of all abilities. Step-by-step route descriptions are accompanied by 1:100,000 OS mapping. A trek planner gives at a glance information about facilities, public transport and accommodation available along the route. Also included is a convenient booklet of 1:25,000 OS maps, which provides all the mapping needed to complete the trail.
The walk is astonishingly varied, taking in the lower Wye gorge, the Severn and the Dee rift valley, the pastures and woodlands of the border country, the remote moorland of the Black Mountains and the Clwydian range, and the dramatic limestone escarpments of Eglwyseg mountain. What makes it even more special is over 60 miles walking alongside the Saxon earthwork of Offa's Dyke, the path sometimes on the Dyke and sometimes alongside.
From the Severn to the Irish Sea
Planning your trip
Selecting a schedule
When to go
Travel to the Path
Transport along the Path
First and last nights
What to take
Planning day by day
Using this guide
Maps and GPS
Phones and wi-fi
All about the Welsh Marches
Geology and landscape
Plants and wildlife
Offa and the Dyke
The Welsh Marches after Offa
Offa’s Dyke Path
Stage 1 Above the Lower Wye Gorge
Stage 2 Sheep and cider in remote Monmouthshire
Stage 3 Crossing the Black Mountains
Stage 4 Gladestry and Hergest Ridge
Stage 5 The Radnorshire Hills
Stage 6 Ups and downs in deepest Shropshire
Stage 7 The Vale of Montgomery and Long Mountain
Stage 8 Across the Severn valley
Stage 9 Exploring the unknown Marches
Stage 10 The Vale of Llangollen and Eglwyseg Rocks
Stage 11 The Clwydian Range
Stage 12 Northern hills and coast
Appendix A Useful contacts
Appendix B Accommodation along the route
Appendix C Topographical Welsh glossary
Appendix D Further reading
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Good news from Llandegla, where a new community-run shop incorporating a cafe has been established to replace the village shop and post office, which closed in 2015. In addition the village church has recently developed a visitor centre including displays on local history and places of interest.
Pages 10, 19, 106 & 181
Springhill Farm, north of Knighton on Stage 6 of the trail, no longer offers camping or bed-and-breakfast accommodation. This also affects the alternative itineraries listed on page 19 of the guide, although fortunately, there are a few alternatives in and close to Newcastle-upon-Clun, only a mile or so further north along the trail. In addition to the Quarry House (listed on page 181) the Crown Inn has now fully reopened, and Little Hall Cottage also offers b&b.
"This new long distance guidebook series from Cicerone has a unique selling point: each copy comes with a pocket-sized booklet providing 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey mapping for the whole of the route it covers. Guidebooks have of course included map sections in the past, but the difference here is that if you stick to the route outlined in each book you shouldn't need to carry an extra map with you. So for those of you who like saving weight (and money for that matter) on your long distance adventures, then this could be the ideal navigation tool....
The guidebooks are impeccably researched and written by Cicerone's expert pool of outdoor authors...
Our only criticism is that they haven't been doing it for years!"
Oli Reed, Trail Magazine
This guidebook from Cicerone describes the National Trail from south to north over 12-day stages. Outline alternative itineraries are included for anyone looking to plan to walk the route over a different amount of days.
Inside the guidebook the step-by-step route descriptions have 1:100,000 Ordnance Survey mapping dotted through the book giving an overview of the route, and neatly inserted in the back of the book (it’s tucked into the pvc sleeve) is a separate 1,25;000 Ordnance Survey map booklet of the entire route. The route in the map booklet is clearly marked on the map with a red line, measuring approx. 11.6 wide x 17.2m high and 80 pages long the map booklet can easily be kept in a jacket pocket so that you can quickly check the route when needed. The route descriptions in the book link up with the route map booklet, but there may be sections of the route where the map booklet alone would be sufficient.
All the way through the book, and in appendices in the back is lots of really useful information, from the history of the dyke, accommodation and itinerary planning, to details on public transport. In the front of the book a handy trek planner gives information about facilities along the trail noting information centres, accommodation and campsites, cafes, pubs, shops and public transport, really handy to planning what you need to carry that day.
I can highly recommend this map and guidebook package, and it is great value too as you don’t need to buy any extra maps of the route.
Amazon Vine reviewerI am a huge fan of Offa’s Dyke and have walked stretches of it off and on over the past 25 years, but have always hankered after walking the whole 177 mile course. Therefore, when I was offered a free copy of this guidebook to give my unbiased opinion on I relished the prospect. It is in fact two books-a guidebook and a 1:25,000 route map booklet.
The guidebook is excellent, it has in it all that you would want to guide you around the full course of the 177 miles. There is a route summary table for each day of 12 day’s walking (which covers from 10 ½ miles at its shortest stretch to 18 miles on the longest day) and obviously choose to walk these one after another or just select to do them on separate days all through the year or indeed all through your life. This route summary gives a start and end point to each route and also tells you the accent in metres and feet, and the time it should take you to cover each day’s walk. There is an excellent overall map showing you the course and the relative ascent on each day. Next is a “path trek planner” which gives you essential details like in information centres, hotels and bed and breakfasts, campsites with facilities, youth hostels, cafes and restaurants, pubs and hotel bars, shops and public transport all along the route all the way from Sedbury to Prestatyn.
There is an introduction section which gives you details on the history of the route, how it came about and interesting features along the way and then a section on “planning your trip” this also includes alternative itineraries which allow Offa’s Dyke Path to be walked in eight days if you really fit or 16 days if not quite so fit and/or want to take it leisurely and visit stuff along the way. There are also details about accommodation and facilities along the route, baggage transfer available and what you should take on your walk.
There is in a section called “planning day by day” which tells you how you should use this guide, what maps and GPS you should use, way marking, weather forecasts, phones and Wi-Fi and emergencies as well as categories on geology and landscape, plants and wildlife and border prehistory. That then follows a section on king Offa and the Dyke. And then the Welsh Marches after Offa.
Then each stage of the 12 stages is described in detail with the start and finish places including full ordnance survey map reference, the distance for this day, the ascent during this day, the time it take for this walk, what maps you should use, refreshments along the way, public transport, and accommodation. There is an excellent overall map at the start of each stage and a introduction to what is likely to be found along the way and then you get into the directions descriptions which are excellent and very clear with what things you can see and places you should visit along the route (including towns, villages and hamlets along the route). There are also more maps and more pictures all through each one of the stages. There are approximately 10 to 12 pages per stage.
There are a set of appendices giving details of local authorities, national parks, tourist information centres, accommodation booking and luggage transfer addresses and telephone numbers and email and website addresses as well as public transport information. Appendix B tells you accommodation along the route in more detail with again addresses telephone numbers and website addresses. The last section, appendix C gives a few words of Welsh and the English equivalent. And then there is a section on further reading.
The accompanying route map booklet is excellent and very clear ordnance survey quality shows you exactly the route through each page and what is nearby.
In summary, this guidebook and route map booklet combination is all you will possibly need to get you through the 177 mile walk of the Offa’s Dyke Path. I heartily recommend it!Amazon Vine reviewer
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Mike Dunn was born and bred in Leicester but has now lived in Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan for over 30 years. He worked for the Welsh Assembly Government, latterly specialising in environmental and conservation issues, and has also written widely on landscape, walking, pubs and real ale. His books include The Penguin Guide to Real Draught Beer, Walking through the Lake District, Walking Ancient Trackways and Real Heritage Pubs of Wales (with Mick Slaughter). He is married and has two daughters, and his interests include playing and organising tennis (he is a Board Member of Tennis Wales), birdwatching, cricket and real ale. Mike's favourite locations for walking are the Welsh borders, the Hebridean Islands and the Lake District.View Articles and Books by Mike Dunn