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.
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.
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 …
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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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …
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, …
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 …
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, …