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Offa's Dyke Path

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Offa was an eighth century King of Mercia, a large region of central England, and through alliances with the kings of neighbouring areas, he became the effective King of England. The origin of the dyke, which bears his name, is shrouded in mystery but it appears to have been constructed in response to troubles he had with the local princes in Powys.    

Offa's Dyke Path

The dyke consists of a linear earthwork, which stretched from Prestatyn on the northern coast of Wales right along the approximate line of the modern English/Welsh border to the River Severn near Chepstow. In cross section, it is a substantial structure consisting of a ditch and rampart about 8 metres high and 25 metres wide. Much of the dyke is still traceable today, particularly the stretch between Wrexham and the Wye Valley, and although centuries of farming have destroyed most of the detailed structure it still maintains an impressive presence in places. The Offa's Dyke Path roughly follows the line of the dyke for 177 miles from Prestatyn on Liverpool Bay to Sedbury Cliffs on the Severn Estuary near Chepstow. For about 70 of those miles it directly follows the course of the earthworks and although it is not the longest of the National Trails, it is one of the most varied and attractive.

Immediately after leaving the town of Prestatyn a steep climb leads through a local nature reserve into lush pastureland and through a network of fields and country lanes to the open moorland of the Clwydian Hills. The trail follows the main ridgeline giving splendid views from the 500m elevation. Take the time to explore the hill forts of Moel Arthur and Foel Fenlli as well as the Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau.   

The hills run out briefly at Llandegla before the long forest climb over to the charming valley of World's End, which leads out past Llangollen to the awesome river crossing of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Just before crossing the busy A5 trunk road, you'll come across the first visible signs of Offa's Dyke and briefly walk along it. The trail rejoins the dyke after crossing the River Ceiriog for a much more substantial section. More pastures follow, criss-crossed by country lanes and dotted with small villages before the Shropshire Union Canal signals the start of a welcome flat section leading to the banks of the River Severn, which the trail follows almost to Welshpool. Here, the trail and the dyke break for the vantage points offered by a brief section of high ground again, passing over the hill fort of Beacon Ring.

After passing just to the east of Montgomery, the trail enters a region of steeply cut valleys before reaching the town of Knighton, the start of the Owain Glyndwr trail. Soon the distinctive shape of Herrock Hill appears and the trail rounds its shoulder as it gains height and then drops down into Kington. Another climb out of the town leads to an old racecourse on top of Hergest Ridge and then pastures lead delightfully to the ancient town of Hay-on-Wye as the trail crosses the River Wye bound for the long and sublime upland ridge marking the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons, training ground for the world famous SAS. From here it's more green fields over to King's Wood and Monmouth, back on the River Wye again, whose banks are followed all the way to the River Severn at Sedbury.   









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