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They say 50 is the new 40. Well, if that’s true, then there’s plenty of life left in 3 of the UK’s most popular walking routes, which all celebrate their 50th anniversaries in 2019.
The Cleveland Way, the Dales Way and the Offa’s Dyke Path are all reaching this major milestone over the next few months, and you can help to celebrate their birthdays by walking the routes with Sherpa Expeditions.
Let’s take a look at what makes these routes so special as they prepare to celebrate turning 50 years young.
The Cleveland Way, which turns 50 on 24 May 2019, is a 109-mile long trail in the North York Moors National Park – and was one of the UK’s earliest official National Trails.
One of the things that makes the Cleveland Way so special is that it’s a combination of coastal and moorland walks, so you can enjoy some real variety in terms of terrain and views. Along its length there are contrasts in walking between quilted farmlands, forest patches, dramatic sandstone rock scarps, isolated moorlands and the highly eroded coastline, punctuated by beautiful little fishing villages, clinging to the cliffs.
There’s also a great deal of history to be enjoyed along the Cleveland Way – including the remains of the Norman Rievaulx Abbey, the 13th century Whitby Abbey, and Whitby’s Captain James Cook Museum, whose ships were all built in the coastal town.
You can have a look at the events currently planned to mark the Cleveland Way’s 50th anniversary.
Departure dates from 6 April to 1 October 2019 – read more here.
The first public Dales Way walk took place on 23rd March 1969, and was organised by the West Riding Ramblers, who were also pivotal in the creation of the route. The Dales Way runs for 78 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, following mostly riverside paths, running right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the gentle foothills of southern lakeland to the shore of England's grandest lake, Lake Windermere.
Along the Dales Way, you’ll come across plenty of interesting old churches, an abbey, lovely real ale pubs and traditional villages. Much of the trail follows pretty river valleys - especially the Wharfe, Dee, Rawthey, Lune and the Kent. All have beauty spots for shady picnics, small ravines and rapids and are patrolled by birds such as Berwick swans, kingfishers, dippers and wagtails.
Visit The Dales Way Association’s website for information on events taking place to mark the 50th anniversary.
Departure dates from 6 April to 5 October 2019, with 8-day and 10-day itineraries available – read more here.
The Offa’s Dyke Association marks its 50th anniversary on 29th March 2019. This National Trail follows the English-Welsh border for 177 miles, although our 8-day itinerary follows the southern half of the trail from Chepstow to Knighton, roughly half the length of the full route.
Offa was the King of Mercia in the 8th century. He decided to define his territory and protect it from the marauding Welsh by building a huge earthwork. Today the remaining 80 miles of embankment forms Britain’s longest archaeological monument.
This 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.
Read more about the 50th anniversary of Offa’s Dyke here.
Departure dates from 7 April to 6 October 2019 – read more here.
Have you ever considered walking Offa’s Dyke Path? Our friends at Cicerone prepared a very quick introduction to this historic trekking trail along the boundary between England and Wales and we are sharing it here with you.
Where is Offa’s Dyke Path and how far is it?
The Offa’s Dyke Path starts in Sedbury, near Chepstow, and finishes in Prestatyn 177 miles later (285km). This well waymarked walk can easily be fitted into a two week holiday and, although long, is not too difficult. Sherpa Expeditions grades the walk as a moderate one that includes some long days and steep climbs and descends.
Who was Offa and what is his dyke?
Offa became the king of Mercia in 757 and inherited a set of poor defensive ditches designed to protect his kingdom from invasion. Around the time of 780, King Offa organised the strengthening of the existing dykes by making the ditches deeper and piling the earth into high banks. All ‘facts’ about this are merrily disputed as there is little real evidence remaining. Still, Offa’s Dyke would have posed a considerable challenge to incomers from the Welsh side and, in some places, the bank is as high as 8 metres today.
Why should you go for an Offa’s Dyke walk?
Who doesn’t want to walk along Britain’s longest linear earthwork? Need more reasons? What about hiking in the Wye Valley (one of the southern UK’s most dramatic and scenic landscapes)? Visiting historic castles and abbeys dating from 1066? Or the fact that you are walking along the boundary of a former kingdom?
When should you go?
The Offa’s Dyke Path can be enjoyed in any season but the shorter days of winter may scupper some of the longer stages. You would also need to prepare for winter conditions, particularly on the high hills. The bluebell woodlands in springtime are a particular highlight. We recommend walking Offa’s Dyke between April and October.
Where should you stay?
There are areas of this walk that are remote from towns and services and accommodation must be carefully planned. Travel with Sherpa Expeditions to take away this hassle. The long-standing relationship with charming hotels and guesthouses helps getting availability, even in busy periods, such as the Hay on Wye festival
or at the time of the Grand National
The oldest stone-built castle in the UK just happens to be in Chepstow
, the start of Offa’s Dyke Path, and is utterly spectacular.