The Offa’s Dyke long distance path is 177 miles long and runs from Sedbury Cliffs on the Severn estuary to Prestatyn on the Irish sea. Offa was King of Mercia from 757-796 AD. Little is known about the Dyke. The first reference to it in contemporary literature was not until about 100 years after its construction when the biographer Asser described ” a wall being built from sea to sea.” It is not even clear whether the complete wall was built, about 80 miles of it are still visible today, ranging from a 3 metre high earth bank and ditch to a low mound.
It is also not certain why it was built. At the time, there were continual battles with the Welsh on the other side of the border so it was originally thought its purpose was as a defensive barrier. Offa was a very powerful and rich king and some historians now believe that he built it to mark the western boundary of his land rather than as a barrier to Welsh incursions. There are a lot of articles on the Web if you want to investigate this further.
The path does not religiously follow the Dyke as it takes in the high ground of the Black Mountains and turns north west, away from the Dyke, near Llangollan to cross the Clywdian Mountains.
The route crosses and recrosses the Welsh border. Much of the walk is in the Welsh Marches, the area of Wales conquered by the Norman Kings where they built defensive castles such as at Chepstow. The more north-easterly portion of Wales remained under Welsh control and was know as Welsh Wales.
I used the Cicerone book by Mike Dunn as my guide, it comes complete with strip maps so, as a bit of a Luddite regarding electronic maps, I did not need to buy paper ones. Most of the stages were based on the Guide, although I needed to detour at several points to find accommodation. Sadly, several of the pubs mentioned in the guide have closed so you do need to check with up to date sources as to where refreshment and accommodation is available en route. I think all of the shops mentioned in the guide are still open but village shops are very much under threat as well.
My usual rules applied, once started I had to walk the entire route. If I did use public transport (which I didn’t) I had to return to the same point. Although the highest point on the walk is only about 550 metres there are a lot of ascents and descents, some of which are quite steep, so you do need to be fit. Waymarking is excellent, but some of the walking is over moorland so you do need a map and compass and the ability to use them in case visibility is poor.
Where I have made notes of historical interest, these derive from the following:
Mike Dunn’s Cicerone guide
Jon Gower: The History of Wales
Various Information boards seen en route
Various historical web sites about individual places. I have tried to avoid Wikipedia unless I can corroborate the quote from another official site.
I walked the Path in June 2022. At present, I am hoping to revamp the website so I made notes as I went along but the blogs have been typed in July 2022.