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Herefordshire Offa's Dyke Accommodation
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The Offa’s Dyke Path, which forms a boundary between England and Wales, is a nationally designated trail and, although it isn’t the longest, it is the only UK National Trail to track a man-made feature.
The route, which runs northwards from the coast of the Bristol Channel up to the Irish Sea, follows a path of 177 miles, taking in a varied landscape of valleys, moorland and ancient woodlands. Along the way, Offa’s Dyke walk passes through three areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with an abundance of castles, abbeys and hill forts, tiny hamlets and villages en route.
King Offa of Mercia created Offa’s Dike in the 8th century to separate his kingdom from contending realms. The vast linear earthwork, dating from between 757 and 796 A.D. begins at Sedbury Cliffs on the Severn Estuary, near Chepstow and ends in Prestatyn, on Liverpool Bay, North Wales. It passes through no fewer than eight counties and criss-crosses the English/Welsh border 20 times.
The construction, thought to have been originally some 27 metres wide and 8 metres deep, is made up of a ditch and rampart with the gully on the side facing towards Wales. No one is certain of its original purpose or whether it was built as a security measure, or to act as a border line but today, Offa’s Dyke Path follows the original course for over 70 miles along the Wye Valley to Wrexham.
For those choosing to explore the entire length of the dyke, a full itinerary might take around two weeks, though of course, shorter distances along the route can be planned and undertaken easily with a splendid diversity of beautiful backdrops such as the lower Wye Valley, the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills, and the Clywdian Hills.
While walking Offa’s Dyke you may want to visit some of the castles and other historic monuments en route. The choice is vast and too numerous to mention but include:
Routes along Offa’s Dyke heading north to south:
From Prestatyn to Llangollen (around 38 miles):
Beginning at Prestatyn the route leads through farmland, woodland and moorland before arriving at the foothills of the Clwydian Range. Climbing at Bodfari and passing a number of Iron Age forts, take the high ground before reaching the water meadows of the River Alun near the little village of Llandegla. The trail takes you close to the attractive town of Llangollen.
From Llangollen to Brompton (around 44 miles):
From Llangollen you will join the original line of Offa’s Dyke, en route for Craignant. Go along the Montgomery Canal, through a picturesque wooded area before following the banks of the River Severn. Ascend the Beacon Ring and note the Iron Age defences and spectacular views. Walk the Plain of Montgomery and the lands around the River Camland.
From Brompton to Knighton (around 14 miles):
Heading from Brompton, the path rises and falls all the way through the locale known as the Switchbacks. You will then rejoin the line of Offa’s Dyke, to follow the route of the ancient barrier. The northernmost part takes you into the Powys town of Knighton – the halfway mark – and known as ‘the town on the dyke’.
From Knighton to Hay-on-Wye (around 28 miles):
This is a wonderful part of the Offa’s Dyke walk offering breathtaking scenery. From across the Hawthorn and Furrow hills, the trail takes you over Hergest Ridge with an impressive vista across to the Black Mountains and the Shropshire Hills. Follow the River Wye to reach Hay-on Wye – the lovely border town with its 30-plus bookshops, known worldwide as ‘the book town’.
From Hay-on-Wye to Monmouth (around 34 miles):
From here, you will ascend Hattrerall Ridge, the highest point on the trail. Open land leads on to the town of Pandy before passing through farmlands and apple orchards and then through delightful villages on the way to the Wye Valley. The ancient town of Monmouth is worthy of a stopover for its landmark 13th century fortified bridge.
From Monmouth to Sedbury Cliffs at Chepstow (around 18 Miles):
For the last leg of the Offa’s Dyke Path, take the wooded slopes of the River Severn and head for Sedbury Cliffs. On this section of the trail, you’ll spy the fabulous ruins of Tintern Abbey as well as experience the somewhat nail-biting view from Wintours Leap. At Chepstow, you may want to visit the town’s imposing castle before completing your journey at Sedbury Cliffs.
The Offa’s Dyke Association, established in 1969, is a voluntary organisation that promotes the Offa’s Dyke Path. This independent body supplies an invaluable link between conservationists, historians and those who enjoy walking, and for a modest annual membership fee make available all kinds of information regarding the dyke and related archaeological and historical research.
The Association also manages the Offa’s Dyke Centre at the halfway point of Knighton. The Centre was opened in 1999 and contains an interactive exhibition and display panels about the King of Mercia’s grand earthwork along with an assortment of services for walkers and other visitors. Entrance to the exhibition is free.
One way of enjoying Offa’s Dyke and the surrounding scenery is to plan a break in the area. Holidays in Shropshire could be the answer. Much of the county of Shropshire, which lies in the borderlands known as the Marches, remains totally unspoilt with many places to visit and discover, and one of its fast growing trends are the yurts.
A yurt is a large, round tent-like structure, usually linked with Central Asia and Mongolia. The self-contained yurts generally come equipped with all the basic camping needs – cooking and washing facilities etc. Rather more comfortable than traditional camping, a yurt is definitely the next step up and perfect if you’re looking for something a little different.
Usually set in quiet secluded areas, Offa’s Dyke yurts are no exception and are to be found just a few miles from the town of Oswestry and a short stride away from the trail of Offa’s Dyke and other walks.
Whether you’re looking to traverse one of the Hereford Walks or negotiate the full length of Offa’s Dyke, particulars can be obtained from information centres along the border counties, including a detailed Offa’s Dyke map.
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