Offa’s Dyke Path

Offa’s Dyke Path stretches from the Severn Estuary in the South of Wales to the Irish Sea in the North of Wales and in so doing joins the South Wales Coastal Path to the North Wales Coastal Path and forms our final leg of the All Wales Path.

Offa’s Dyke is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D. However the Offa’s Dyke Path is of rather more recent origins being first listed as a long distance route in 1949 then being officially opened on behalf of the Countryside Commission as the Offa’s Dyke National Trail in 1971.

Offa was arguably the most powerful and successful of the Anglo-Saxon kings and was often in conflict with the Welsh. There was a battle between the Mercians and the Welsh at Hereford in 760 AD, and Offa campaigned against the Welsh in 778, 784 and 796.

Understandably Offa would wish to stop the Welsh incursions and thus came about the massive linear earthwork, now known as Offa’s Dyke. The trail roughly follows some of the current border between Wales and England (and indeed crosses from one country to the other 9 times) and in places it is up to 65 feet wide and the height from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the bank is up to 20 feet.

The Path runs for 177 miles from Sedbury Cliffs on the Severn Estuary near Chepstow to the North Wales resort of Prestatyn where it dips its toes into the Irish Sea. For 70 of these miles it follows the course of the Offa’s Dyke earthwork.

Remarkably, from the Wye valley in the south to Wrexham in the north, much of the Dyke is still traceable along the route, and parts retain much of their original impressive dimensions.

The trail includes the lower Wye valley, the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills, and the Clwydian Range of mountains. The walk is approximately 177miles / 285 kilometres and the time taken to complete the Trail can vary from four days to the more typical two weeks, depending on your fitness and your intentions.