Offa’s Dyke Path is a spectacular coast-to-coast hike along the ancient border between England and Wales.
The 177-mile (285-kilometer) route explores an ever-contrasting landscape that is rich in wildlife, affords countless magical views from empty hilltops, and evokes a history that stretches back thousands of years.
For more than 60 miles (97 kilometers) the route follows Offa’s Dyke, Britain’s longest ancient monument. The rampart was built in the eighth century to separate what is now England and Wales under instruction of King Offa, ruler of Mercia.
Highlights along the way include: White Castle, one of the best preserved of the Monmouthshire fortresses; Llanthony Priory, an atmospheric ruin from 1100; Hay Castle, a 12th-century fortress; the medieval market town of Knighton; the 13th-century ruins of Montgomery Castle; Beacon Ring Iron Age hillfort; the 14th century Chirk Castle; the ‘stream in the sky’ Pontcysyllte Aqueduct; the hilltop ruins of Castell Dinas Brân; plus lots more.
This hike is not just a step back in time, though. Tackling a relentlessly-hilly terrain through a wild and often challenging landscape, Offa’s Dyke Path will push your fitness and test your technical ability.
The upshot of this ever-undulating adventure—which crosses the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills, the Eglwyseg moors, and the Clwydian Range—is plenty of magical views that stretch into the Welsh mountains and the English lowlands.
The most common way to walk the Path is from south to north; starting by the Severn Estuary at Sedbury and finishing at Prestatyn on the north coast (as per this Collection). However, there is no reason why you can't hike the other way.
In this Collection, we split the route into 12 stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Chepstow, which has direct trains from Cardiff and Birmingham and has connecting services around Britain. From Chepstow it is just over a mile (one-and-a-half kilometers) to the start of the trail in Sedbury.
To get home, Prestatyn railway station has direct trains to Cardiff and Chester and connections around Britain.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Sedbury. To get back you can catch a train from Prestatyn to Sedbury, usually with a couple changes.
Alternatively, you could find long stay parking in Cardiff, which has good public transport links between the start and finish.
For more information about Offa’s Dyke Path, visit: nationaltrail.co.uk/offas-dyke-path.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
The Offa’s Dyke Path begins on the banks of the Severn Estuary.
You pick up Offa’s Dyke itself close to Sedbury Cliff and the trail roughly follows the course of the River Wye for the rest of the stage.
With nearly 18 miles (30 kilometers) of distance and some challenging climbs, this first stage will really test your mettle.
The first tough climb rewards you with Devil’s Pulpit and awe-inspiring views over Tintern Abbey, a gothic masterpiece founded in 1131.
The final climb of the day takes you over The Kymin, an 18th-century round house and temple set within nine acres of grounds. From here, you experience great views over Monmouth and the Wye Valley.
This stage finishes in Monmouth, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage explores the serene rural landscape of Monmouthshire.
After parting ways with the River Wye, the trail takes you through a pretty patchwork of farmland, woodland, orchards, and sleepy villages.
Before you emerge from Monmouth, you cross over Monnow Bridge, the only surviving mediaeval fortified river bridge in Britain where the gate tower is on the bridge.
You do not see any of Offa’s Dyke on this stage but you do pass some fascinating historical places.
The trail takes you right past White Castle, the best preserved of the Monmouthshire fortresses known as the ‘Three Castles’.
As you enter Llangattock Lingoed you pass St Cadoc's, a Grade I-listed medieval church that has a large wall painting inside from the early 15th century.
This stage finishes in the village of Pandy, which has some options for accommodation and food and drink.
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This stage takes you into the Black Mountains and onto the highest point along the entire trail.
From Pandy, the trail climbs gradually through farmland into a rugged upland terrain over the Hatterall Ridge, where you are afforded breathtaking views in both directions.
A while later you see the ruins of Llanthony Priory below. The priory was one of the earliest houses of Augustinian canons to be founded in Britain and its origins date back to around 1100.
It is worth a detour down to see the free entry ruin, as this route does. However. It will add one-and-a-half miles and (two-and-a-half kilometers) of distance and 800 feet (244 meters) of ascent; adding roughly one hour.
You descend from the ridge finish by Hay Castle, an impressive medieval fortress that was built in the 12th century.
Hay-on-Wye has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage takes you high into the hills along the English and Welsh border and affords stunning views into both countries.
From Hay, you pick up the River Wye once again for a short section before a long but gradual climb through peaceful farmland, woodland, and sleepy villages.
As you pass through Gladestry, it is worth visiting St Mary's, a pretty church that dates to the 13th century and retains many original features.
After leaving the village, you begin a spectacular section over Hergest Ridge. Reaching a height of 1,398 feet (426 meters), the ridge boasts a breathtaking panorama.
You descend from the ridge to finish in Kington, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
You experience spellbinding views along this hilly stage, which takes you to the spiritual home of Offa’s Dyke.
Before you leave Kington, it is worth visiting the Grade I-listed Church of St Mary.
Founded in the late Norman period, the oldest part of the church you can see is the tower, which was built around 1200.
It is then a steep climb around Bradnor Hill and Rushock Hill before the trail drops to skirt around Herrock Hill.
This stage is renowned for its long and well-preserved sections of the Dyke, especially on the lead-up to Knighton, where this stage finishes.
The Welsh name for the town is ‘Tref-y-Clawdd’, which means ‘town on the Dyke’, and Knighton is the only town to lie on the line of Offa’s Dyke.
Knighton has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This challenging stage takes you through the stunning Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
From Knighton, it is a steep climb onto the tops and over Cwm-Sanaham Hill. The trail then descends into farmland before it climbs over Llanfair Hill.
You descend near to Newcastle on Clun where it is worth paying a visit to St John the Evangelist Church. Built by Shrewsbury architect Sir Edward Haycock in 1848, the Grade II-listed church is situated amid rolling countryside in a peaceful spot
From Newcastle, it is a steep climb over Graig Hill before you make your ascent of Hergen, which affords fine views over the Shropshire Hills. Just above Newcastle is the halfway point marker.
The deeply undulating terrain makes for a tough final stretch to Brompton, where this stage finishes. There are some options for accommodation in and close to Brompton, and places to eat and drink nearby.
There is lots of fascinating history on this hike, which, quite literally, has one foot in England and one in Wales.
You get to see plenty of the Offa’s Dyke on this stage, as well as a medieval castle and an Iron Age hillfort.
The trail is relatively flat out of Knighton and soon passes close to Montgomery. If you have time, it is worth a brief detour into the town (as this route does) to see the castle.
Montgomery Castle is an atmospheric ruin that is free to enter and affords wonderful views over the surrounding countryside.
The trail descends gradually to cross the River Camlad and then climbs steadily through farmland and woodland, passing some quiet villages.
You finish the hike by climbing Beacon Ring, an Iron Age hillfort that was built and occupied between 1000BC and 50AD.
The trail then descends to finish in Buttington. There is not much in Buttington itself, but Welshpool is only two miles (three kilometers) away and has options for accommodation and food and drink.
This stage affords some rare level walking on a trail that is typically hilly as heck.
With only 100 feet (30 meters) of ascent and 11 miles (18 kilometers) of distance, this stage is the easiest on the entire trail.
Before you leave Buttington, it is worth visiting the Church of All Saints, which dates from the 14th century and retains many of its original architectural features.
You then follow the River Severn until you reach Neath Brook, just south of where it joins the Severn.
The trail continues through farmland to Four Crosses and then follows the Montgomery Canal all the way to Llanymynech, where this stage finishes.
Llanymynech is an interesting place because the England and Wales border runs right down the main street.
There is a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as a shop in Llanymynech.
It’s back into the hills on this stage, which sees the trail return to normal form.
From Llanymynech, you begin by climbing through Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve, which was a busy quarry 200 years ago but is now home to 416 species of plants, 33 species of butterflies, 46 different birds, and 92 species of fungi and lichens
You reach the summit of Llanymynech Hill a short time later, where you experience lovely views over the village below.
The trail descends to Porth-y-Waen, climbs gradually for a short time, and then makes a sharp ascent to the summit of Moelydd, which affords a breathtaking panoramic view.
You continue through farmland, pass through Trefonen, and continue to where the trail crosses the River Morda.
From here, you climb onto the tops once again and continue along the gently-undulating trail past Oswestry Old Racecourse.
This stage finishes in Castle Mill. Whilst there is not much in the hamlet, you will find options for accommodation and food and drink nearby.
This stage takes you along the final stretch of the Dyke, past two enchanting castles, and over the ‘stream in the sky’.
The trail voyages into the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on this hike, which remains the case until its ultimate conclusion in Prestatyn.
From Castle Mill, it is a short but sharp ascent to Chirk Castle, which was completed in 1310 during the reign of Edward I.
You then hike east briefly to pick-up the Llangollen Canal. After a few miles following the canal you make an epic crossing over the River Dee via Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Known as the ‘stream in the sky’, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is an 18-arched structure that was completed in 1805. At the time, it was the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest canal aqueduct in the world
You depart from the canal at Trefor and climb through farmland and woodland back into the hills.
It is well worth a short detour to see Castell Dinas Brân, an enchanting 13th-century ruin sat atop a rugged and prominent hilltop with wonderful views.
This stage finishes in Llandegla, which has some options for accommodation and food and drink.
This stage continues through the hills on a journey that affords awe-inspiring views and history.
From Llandegla, the trail climbs steadily through the landscape as it changes from green fields to rugged upland terrain.
The trail passes the summits of Moel Y Gelli, Moel Y Plas, Moel Llanfair, Moel Gyw, and eventually reaches Foel Fenlli.
The second highest peak of the Clwydian Range, Foel Fenlli affords fantastic views into Wales and England. On the summit you can also explore the remains of an Iron Age hillfort.
A short time later, you reach the highest summit in the range, Moel Famau. From this summit, you experience spectacular views across the Vale of Clwyd to Snowdonia in the west, and the English border in the east.
Crowning the summit is the Grade II-listed remains of Jubilee Tower, which was built to commemorate the golden jubilee of George III in 1810.
It is a long and undulating descent to Bodfari, where this stage finishes. There is not much in Bodfari but there are options for accommodation and food and drink nearby.
As you hike the final leg through the Clwydian Range, tantalizing glimpses of the ocean open up to reveal the finish line.
Whilst the hills are smaller along this final stage, they still afford sublime views and serenity to make the last leg a special one.
From Bodfari, it is a steep climb to Moel y Gaer Iron Age hillfort, which was occupied from the Neolithic period to before the Roman conquest.
The trail continues through farmland and a rougher upland landscape. There are a few sharp ascents and descents but they are manageable, as is the distance.
As you near the finish, glimpses of the sea open into full ocean views. You also experience wonderful views of Snowdonia and the North Wales coast from Prestatyn Hillside before you descend into the town.
The trail finishes at Prestatyn beach, at which point it is customary to remove your boots and socks and go for a paddle in the sea.
Dechrau a Diwed (Welsh for ‘beginning and end’) is a statue that marks the northern end of the trail.
Prestatyn has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.