The Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail, truly a cross border National Treasure, celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. On its journey from sea to sea, the Trail passes through three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a National Park:
The Wye Valley AONB, with stunning views of the River Wye and the iconic view of Tintern Abbey from Devils Pulpit.
The Shropshire Hills AONB, where you are in the true heartland of the Trail following the ‘Switchbacks’ and never far from Offa’s Dyke itself and one of the hardest day sections of the route.
The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, this section takes you from Chirk Castle to the sea over numerous heather-clad hills and stunning views of the Vale of Clywd.
The Brecon Beacons National Park, and the 10-mile traverse of Hatterrall Ridge, encountering the highest point on the Trail and at a consistent height of around 1700ft, with yet more breath-taking views into England and Wales.
And for good measure, a brief detour off the Trail, on an alternative route, will let you experience the miracle of engineering by Thomas Telford, that is Pontcysyllte Aqueduct AKA the ‘waterway in the sky’.
The Trail is a spectacular path that winds itself through the ‘Breath-taking Borderlands’ of England and Wales for 177 miles between Chepstow on the River Severn to Prestatyn on the North Wales coast. The two ends both being Walkers are Welcome towns, and in between, on or near the Trail, we have Montgomery, Bishops Castle, Clun, Knighton, and Kington which are also Walkers are Welcome towns.
As well as Offa’s Dyke itself, after which the Trail gets its name, the route passes through or by countless other historical sites, such as Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, Monnow Bridge, White Castle, Beacon Ring, Dinas Bran and numerous hillforts in the Clwydian Range the largest being Penycloddiau.
The path was officially opened in Knighton by Lord Hunt (of Everest fame) on July 10th, 1971. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the work of creating and completing the route involved a pioneering partnership effort by government agencies, local authorities and the volunteers of the then newly formed Offa’s Dyke Association
Over the last 50 years, the Offa’s Dyke Path has become one of Britain’s best-loved walking routes, and an important mainstay of the local tourism economy. During that time, hundreds of thousands of visitors have discovered a unique walking experience which combines spectacular landscapes and wildlife, the extraordinary history of the Welsh Marches (most obviously represented by the ancient bank and ditch of Offa’s Dyke itself built by Offa, King of Mercia 757-796), and the warm welcome to be found in the market towns, villages and rural communities along the route.
Today, the care of the path is jointly funded and strategically managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Natural England (NE) and their local authority and national park partners. Practical management and repair are undertaken by the relevant local authorities (Denbighshire (Flintshire), Wrexham, Powys, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Brecon Beacons National Park, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire Councils).
The whole route is undertaken in about 12 days, as set out in the official guide-book, but it can also be enjoyed in short sections or day walks, or incorporated into many circular walks.
You can experience many sections of it by joining in one of the numerous Walking Festivals along the route, many hosted by the Walkers are Welcome Towns. See our What’s on.
To find out what’s happening during our 50th Anniversary Year visit the website https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/offas-dyke-path/
Photo shows The Kymin