On many ‘must-hike’ lists, Offa’s Dyke is a world-famous path stretching from coast to coast along the ancient border between England and Wales.
Perhaps it’s the wonderful collision of wild mountainous terrain, 8th-century history and nearby modern comforts that asserts it as a firm long-distance favourite. And what’s not to love about a trail that still feels like you can escape to lost times? Enjoy a challenging hike over mountains, pasture and rolling hills, along with Britian’s longest ancient monument with beauty around every corner, whilst still being close enough to transport, accommodation and comfort when and if you need it. The Offa’s Dyke trail seems to be one for all long-distance hikers, whether you’re an avid camper or a firm believer in a bed.
Whether you thru-hike it in one or cover it in sections, the rewarding 177-mile point to point Offa’s Dyke path is usually walked south to north but it can be hiked in either direction, taking an average of 12 – 16 days to complete.
Considered a medium rated trail, the terrain on the Offa’s Dyke trail is a great mixture, from a single track and exposed mountain ridgeline to the woodland trail, pasture and moorland, with some small country roads. The terrain is undulating and wild with some steep climbs throughout to reward you with spectacular views from start to finish.
Although open year-round it’s recommended for hiking during the drier months due to its elevation and challenging sections.
Check out the elevation on Hiiker.
Starting in the south as most do, the trail begins at Sedbury Cliff, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Wild and hilly, it winds its way over mountains and lowlands, crossing in and out of England and Wales as it treats you to spectacular views, ruins, castles and some decently arduous sections.
Much of the Offa’s Dyke path follows the ancient dyke, through eight counties and passes plenty of historical sites as well as two of Wales’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the Wye Valley and Clwydian Range). You’ll be spoiled with fortresses, ruins and castles, whilst also being delighted by the views as you head over the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills, the Eglwyseg moors, and into the Clwydian Range.
Skirting villages as you go, you’re never too far from a pub on your journey despite the wildness it offers along the way.
Usually split into around 12 stages, it takes you from Chepstow to Monmouth, over lowland to reach Pandy and then Hay-on-Wye. Then to Kington, Knighton, over the Radnorshire Hills and the scenic rolling hills of Clun. Then along the Severn Valley to Oswestry and then through the dramatic Clwydian Range.
This trail seems to have it all and it’s no wonder why it’s a bucket list hike; from its coastal start and finish to picturesque villages and ever-changing landscapes, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail takes you over mountain and hill, through pasture and lowland, along canals and rivers, whilst also connecting you with its rich ancient history with every step.
Know before you go
What is the Offa’s Dyke?
A border embankment that runs from coast to coast, was erected in the 8th century by King Offa of Mercia to divide Wales and England. In some sections, the path even takes you atop and along this great historic monument.
How far is the Offa’s Dyke path?
177 miles (288km), taking on average 12 – 16 days to complete.
Do I need to navigate on the Offa’s Dyke trail?
The Offa’s Dyke path was officially declared a National Trail on 10 July 1971, by Lord Hunt, which means it uses the small acorn symbol, as on all National Trails, to guide you. However, in poor weather conditions, and low clouds, especially in exposed areas, waymarks can be missed so it is essential to have navigation skills and a reasonable level of fitness and long-distance hiking experience for this trail.
Is there accommodation on the Offa’s Dyke Path?
There are accommodation options to suit any hiker or budget on the trail, from campsites and youth hostels to B&Bs and hotels.
What is there to see on the Offa’s Dyke Path?
Just some of the highlights recommended on the Offa’s Dyke Path are:
- The best-preserved fortress in Monmouthshire, the White Castle.
- Rhuddlan Castle
- Beacon Hill Iron Age hillfort
- Views from Jubilee Tower, Moel Famau
- St Asaph Cathedral
- The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – Britain’s highest navigable aqueduct
- The ruins of Castell Dinas Bran
- The Black Mountains range in the Brecon Beacon National Park
Plan your thru-hike of the Offa’s Dyke path with Hiiker.