Once upon a time in the 8th century, there was a ruthless King of Mercia called Offa. Such trouble had he from Welsh marauders nibbling at the toes of his kingdom, that once and for all he decided to define his territory and built a huge earthwork to do so, generally following the high ground with commanding views into the mountains and down into the valleys. Today the remaining 80 miles of embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument and the basis of a famous walk: Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km). Our walk follows the southern half of this trail from Chepstow to Knighton, (about half this walking distance in total). It is a journey packed with interest through patchworks of fields, over windswept ridges, across infant rivers, by ruined castles and into the old border market towns. Traditional farming methods have more or less remained intact and the hedgerows, oak woods and hay meadows form good wildlife habitats, home of buzzards and the rare Red Kite. You might even discover the even rarer Welsh Red Dragon!
Moderate. Some long days and steep climbs and descents. Generally however undulating. Mixed weather can be expected. We would not recommend the route for first time walkers.
Make your own way to Chepstow. Located in Monmouthshire Wales, adjoining the border with Gloucestershire located on the River Wye, Chepstow is lovely to explore. If there is time, visit the ruins of Chepstow Castle, Town Gate and Wye Bridge, constructed in 1816.
Accommodation: Your first hotel was a 16th century coaching Inn. The rooms are ensuite and there is an award winning restaurant offering Welsh menus. Bar meals are also available.
This morning, the route starts from the mud flats of the River Severn at Sedbury. The trail then climbs quite steeply in places up to follow the sheer valley side of the River Wye with some fantastic viewpoints. As you head towards the Tintern Abbey meander, you will notice that you are actually walking on the Offa' s Dyke. You can really marvel at the meandering river, the cliffs and the little settlements. Descend to Redbrook, a 19th century industrial village, or up and over the hills again to the famous border town of Monmouth.
Accommodation: We stay at a simple guesthouse in this village where there are two options for evening meals. You may instead be staying in Monmouth at a variety of guesthouses or B&Bs. Monmouth has a greater selection of pubs and restaurants. If you would prefer to stay in Monmouth, please let us know at the time of booking.
From Redbrook, climb up to “naval temple” for one of the best views of the entire route. Head down to Monmouth for a mid morning refreshment, crossing the 13th century gatehouse bridge. Next climb through boggy King’s Wood and then cross the Trothy River. The countryside becomes quite domesticated. The views to the north are dominated by the shapes of Skirrid and Sugfarloaf Hills. Stop in at Llantillo Crosseny village with its fine 13th century church. The village pub has features dating from the 15th century. The next stop is White Castle a 12th century Norman Castle built to protect the route from Monmouth into Wales. It is in a picturebook setting with intact walls and a little moat. Descending from the castle, bypass the village of Llanvetherine and undulate the last couple of miles along to Llangattock Lingoed.
Accommodation: We stay in an attractive 17th century property which stands in an acre of garden, in this unspoilt rural hamlet that nestles in the Welsh border countryside.
The trail continues via Pandy where you leave the lowland farms and rivers and climb up onto the Hatterrall Ridge and into the Black Mountains. The ridge in the main follows the border of England and Wales and the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Spectacular views all around.
Accommodation: Our B&B accommodation dates back to 1751.
Morning steep ascent to regain the Hatterrall Ridge and then over the Cats Back and up to the highest point to the path near Red Darren at 2306 feet (703m). The ridge ends at Hay Bluff, a great northerly viewpoint towards Hay and the Wye Valley, the Hills of Radnorshire and also the Black Mountains to the west and parts of the Brecon Beacons. Next drop off the ridge and stroll via a set of five kissing gates into Hay on Wye, the capital of the second hand book trade. The town with its 12th century Keep was the site of the Anglo – Welsh power struggles in the 13th century.
Accommodation: We use, an 18th century cottage guesthouse with ensuite rooms.
Crossing the River Wye, today’s walk rises into the Radnorshire Hills. The walking undulates past sites of Roman encampments until you reach Glades try for a lunchtime pub break. For the last few miles today you have to climb up and walk along the Hergest Ridge amongst thyme, gorse and Welsh ponies. Eventually drop down to Kington, actually situated in Herefordshire with its 13th century church and the parallel lanes and long back gardens that may preserve the pattern of the strips in the former open field system.
Accommodation: You stay in a private home. Rooms are not ensuite however the property holds a silver award for Green Tourism.
Some say this is the finest walk of the whole path, with Offa’s Dyke as your constant companion. First pass the highest golf course in England on Bradnor Hill. The trail then undulates spectacularly, but is never too steep. Beautiful westward panoramas open up across the Radnor Valley. On a clear day you get views 30 miles in each direction, over both the Brecon Beacons and The Malverns. The route climbs over a hill called Ffridd, before descending very steeply to Knighton (town of the horsemen) or Tref y Clawdd in Welsh (Town on the Dyke) as the town is on The Shropshire / Powys border. It is a very busy little market town. The market place has mainly 17th century shops and enough general entertainment to keep you amused for an evening.
Accommodation: 18th century coaching inn, which has now been restored into a very comfortable guesthouse.
After breakfast make your way to the train station for your onward journey.
Per Person, Twin Share