With wellbeing high on most people’s agenda these days it was no surprise to find out a lot of people are challenging themselves to walk or dare I say run our national trails, when current lockdown restrictions are no longer in place and it’s safe to do so.
We are lucky to have many iconic walking trails in Wales, each one with a special character all of its own, making each trail your own personal voyage of discovery.
The Offa’s Dyke path which is named after, the spectacular Dyke King Offa ordered to be constructed in the 8th century, probably to divide his Kingdom of Mercia from rival kingdoms in what is now Wales. It packs a lot of punch in its 177 miles as it passes through 3 Areas of Outstanding National Beauty Wye Valley, Shropshire and our own Clwydian Range and Dee Valley and the Brecon Beacons National Park as well as the World Heritage site in Llangollen. It has a constantly changing landscape covering rivers and meadows to the more dramatic heath clad moorlands and uplands. As well as Offa’s Dyke itself, the route passes through or by countless other heritage 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 so you could say you are walking through history as it crosses over the border to England and back more than twenty times. The whole route is undertaken in about 12/ 14 days. It can be challenging too because as you walk it you ascend over 28,000ft which is the equivalent of climbing Everest. It has a collection of lesser seen wildlife like Red Grouse, Curlews and Merlin’s and its landscape has been captured by artists such as Turner and Wilson over the centuries. Rob Dingle the Offa’s Dyke National Trail Officer is responsible for the overall development and management, working with the managing authorities who maintain their sections on the ground. Rob ensures the path is always up to date and way markers maintained so people can feel confident as they explore the path.
A lot of people are combining the Wales Coastal Path and Offa’s Dyke path to walk the whole of wales. Rob tells me that ‘combined they are 1030 miles which takes on average 65 days to walk or gulp(!) 25 days if you are running.’ A lot of people like me however just chose to do short sections
Lonely Planet names Offa’s Dyke Path among the world’s greatest walks-
‘ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful walks, offering breath-taking views and glimpses into centuries of history.’
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Offa’s Dyke Path. 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. Rob Dingle said ‘one of the big changes you will find while walking the route that has happened over the past 50 years, is the reduction in stiles. In the late 60s/early 70s when the trail was officially opened, there was rumoured to be over 900 stiles, with many comments from walkers, over the past 10 years we have worked really hard to change this and today there are less than 250 stiles left. And every year we are working hard to remove more of these and install more gates.’ Under normal circumstances planning of celebrations would already be underway, however with the uncertainty of the current climate these may have to be put on hold for a short while, however we still like to see you showcase your local part of the Offa’s Dyke by using the #offasdykepath50 on social media platforms. To find out what’s happening during the 50th Anniversary Year and how you can get involved please visit.
Will you challenge yourself to some long distance ventures once we are allowed to travel again? Please remember with current restrictions in place we are only allowed to exercise within walking distance of home and please respect the Countryside Code.