Offa’s Dyke Path – Day 1 Sedbury Cliffs to Chepstow

Tuesday 24 June 2.5 miles.

The journey from Manchester to Chepstow is only about three and a half hours, so I decided to travel down on the morning, have lunch in Chepstow and look round the castle.  There is nowhere to stay in Sedbury so I could get a bus to the start of the walk and return to Chepstow via Offa’s Dyke Path (ODP).

Chepstow is a small, attractive Welsh town, lying close to the English border and bounded on its east side by the river Wye. There were a lot of independent shops and I found a nice deli to sit outside and enjoy a hummus and salad sandwich and watch the world go by.  There were brass plaques on the pavement outside many of the shops detailing their past ownership and use. At intervals there were aphorisms or lines of poetry engraved in brass on the pavement.  I passed Oliver Cromwell house, with the date May 11 1642 outside.  The date is when the castle fell to the Parliamentarians and it is claimed Cromwell slept in the house.  After lunch I walked to the castle, which lies on top a cliff on the west bank of the Wye and dominates the town. 

Looking towards the Middle and Upper Baileys of Chepstow Castle

Construction of the castle was started in 1067 by the Normans in their bid to subjugate Wales.  It was held by various favourites of the reigning king and extended over the next 300 years.  It was a royalist stronghold during the Civil War, but after the war was allowed to fall into ruin.  The old keep doors have been dated to the late 12th Century and are on display at the castle. 

It was considered impregnable as it had natural defences of the high Wye cliffs around its east side and was built on solid rock so it could not be undermined.

I caught the bus to Buttington Tump and walked down through fields to the river estuary.  There was a good view of the original Severn Crossing (now the M48) as well as the footings of the pier used for a ferry crossing before the bridge was built.  I took a short walk along the estuary edge, beneath the Sedbury cliffs, to look for fossils on the beach.  There were a lot of fossillised shells but I was unable to find any ammonites or other fossils.

It was now time to start the walk proper.  I climbed up through woodland to the top of the cliffs to find the stone marking the official start of the ODP. 

Immediately, I was walking alongside the Dyke. 

Tree covered Dyke near Sedbury

I followed this through fields to Sedbury, which is really a suburb of Chepstow, lying on the eastern (English) side of the Wye.  I wondered whether the bridge was patrolled to stop the burghers of Chepstow crossing to Sedbury during the latter stages of lockdown, when the English rules were relaxed before the Welsh.

The path now passed alongside houses before crossing the main road near the bridge.  It then passed alongside the houses of Tutshill before entering woodland.  There were tanatalising views of the castle across the river through the trees.  I then descended steeply down a tarmacked path to join the B4228 to cross the old bridge back into Wales and Chepstow.

Chepstow Castle sitting on the cliffs above the River Wye

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