Offa’s Dyke is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D. It gives its name to a long distance footpath, one of Britain’s National Trails, which runs for 177 miles from Sedbury, near Chepstow, to Prestatyn through the varied and little-frequented landscapes of the Welsh Marches.
The Offa’s Dyke Association was set up in 1969 to provide a link between walkers, historians and conservationists and those who live and work locally. All persons and organisations interested in the Welsh Border region are invited to join. Full membership is £16 a year: there are concessions for students, the unemployed, retired people, families and groups.
To contact the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail Officer, for example to report problems with gates, stiles or signs, email: email@example.com or write to Rob Dingle, Powys County Council, The Gwalia, Ithon Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys. LD1 6AA Tel. 01597 827580
Chepstow, at the southern end of the National Trail is a warm and friendly ‘Walkers are Welcome‘ town. Volunteer groups help to keep the Trail and wider footpath network neat and tidy and the Chepstow WAW Walking festival is now firmly established in the calendar. http://www.walksinchepstow.co.uk/
There are active heritage and amenity groups the length of Offa’s Dyke Path. Old Oswestry Hillfort in north Shropshire, which incorporates the much later Saxon Wat’s Dyke, is only a stone’s-throw from the National Trail and is itself looked after by an active volunteer group under the auspices of Historic England. http://oldoswestryhillfort.co.uk/
Another very active group, again in north Shropshire, is the Trefonen Heritage Protection Group. In October 2017 an audience of 120+ turned up to listen to an expert talk on Offa and his Dyke by Dr Keith Ray. http://trefonen-rpg.co.uk/Heritage.html
The Radnorshire Society, established in 1930, is concerned with the archaeology and history of the historic county of Radnorshire (now part of Powys). http://radnorshiresociety.org/ An almost complete set of The Transactions of the Radnorshire Society can be viewed in the Frank Noble Library in the Offa’s Dyke Centre.
The Saxon capital of Mercia, Tamworth, is today championed by the Tamworth Heritage Trust. http://www.tamworthheritagetrust.co.uk/king-offa
Offa’s Dyke Path travels through three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty:
The Clwydian Hills and Dee Valley AONB http://www.clwydianrangeanddeevalleyaonb.org.uk/
The Shropshire Hills AONB http://www.shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/
The Wye Valley AONB http://www.wyevalleyaonb.org.uk/index.php
Two of the AONBs have their own Friends’ groups: the Friends of Clwydian Hills and Dee Valley AONB http://www.friends.cymru/ and the Friends of the Shropshire Hills AONB http://www.shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/a-special-place/friends/
Information about the Clwydian Way.
Information about Glyndwr’s Way. The National Trail offers some of Mid-Wales’ finest scenery, ranging from rolling hills, woodland and country lanes to open hill and mountain. The 132 mile / 212 km Trail offers something for everyone, from those seeking long distance walking to day or weekend visitors. Contact the National Trail Officer via https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/glyndwrs-way/contact-trail-team
Information about Brecon Beacons Park Society. The Society aims “to advance the enhancement, protection and conservation of the countryside and other amenities of the Brecon Beacons National Park for the benefit of the public,” and also “to advance the education of the public in the ways in which to achieve the above including the provision of opportunities for healthy recreation and in particular walking.”
Information about the Heart of Wales Line. A comprehensive guide to this beautiful railway line that runs through Knighton, from Shrewsbury to Swansea, featuring over 230 pages and 35 interactive maps.
The ODA encourages and promotes a responsible and sustainable use of the countryside. While the metal detecting community sometimes gets a bad press we are happy to draw attention to metal detector hobbyists who act responsibly, professionally and within the law. The on-line Archaeology and Metal Detecting Magazine aims to bridge the gap between professional archaeology and the hobby. http://archmdmag.com/relationship-detectorists-archaeologists/
Walking Britain is a website that provides a wide base of information about the mountains and high ground of Britain, with regional information, walks, and photos. http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk
The Wysis Way links Offa’s Dyke Path at Monmouth to Thames Path National Trail at Kemble in Gloucestershire. The walk is fully signposted, waymarked and publicised and will be shown in future editions of OS mapping. For details of this path, please see http://www.countryside-matters.co.uk/
The Agricultural Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Worcester has, in support with other agencies, launched the Go West Project, which aims to help develop the tourist potential of the Teme Valley in a sympathetic way. (Fuller details are available at http://www.temevalley.org.uk/
Some useful addresses
Natural Resources Wales, Ty Cambria, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0TP
Natural England, Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Riverside Exchange, Sheffield, S3 8NH. Tel: 0114 241 8920
Visit Wales (Welsh Tourist Board), QED Centre, Main Avenue, Trefforest Industrial Estate, Trefforest, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynnon Taff, CF37 5YR
Heart of England Tourist Board, Woodside, Larkhill Road, Worcester, WR5 2EF
English Heritage, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2ST
Ramblers’ Association, 2nd Floor, Camelford House, 87-90, Albert Embankment, London. SE1 7TW
Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales), Trevelyan House, Dimple Road, Matlock, Derbys. DE4 3YH
Walking Forum is a forum for discussing all aspects of country walking & hiking in the UK with boards for general chat, gear, photography, and all the popular UK walking destinations.
CADW (Welsh Historic Monuments), Plas Carew, Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed, Parc Nantgarw, Cardiff, CF15 7QQ
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust Ltd., 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru. Plas Crug, Aberystwyth, Wales. SY23 1NJ
National Trail Promotion Organisations
Sister bodies of the Offa’s Dyke Association, devoted to their respective Paths include:
The Cambrian Way, Tony Drake’s own site describing his challenging high-level route through Wales
The South West Way Coastal Path is Britain’s longest National Trail – over 600 miles! It starts at Minehead in Somerset and goes right round the South West Peninsula as far as Poole Harbour in Dorset. It has part of the Somerset coast, the North Devon coast, all Cornwall, the South Devon coast, and nearly all of the Dorset coast.
The South West Way Association was formed in 1973 with help from the ODA, and is now known as The South West Coast Path Association. Plenty of information is available about the coast path for those who wish to walk all, or indeed part, of it. An Annual Guide Gives a full trail description, comprehensive accommodation, ferries, local transport, and other useful information. A series of 50 detailed path descriptions are also available.
In recent years we feel substantial progress has been made in improvements to the route and in the general standard of maintenance. This is not to say that further work has not to be done. The more people that can support the Association, the sooner there will be a path that can give more enjoyment to a greater number of people.
Therefore, the Association both offers information and asks for your support. Please send enquiries about membership and purchase of the Annual Guide to the Administrator, Kate Holland, South West Coast Path Association, Bowker House, Lee Mill Bridge, Ivybridge, Devon, PL21 9EF ( phone 01752 896237), email firstname.lastname@example.org or web site http://www.swcp.org.uk
For practical advice and information for walking all or part of the SWCP, contact the Secretary, Steve Church (phone 01736 791777), email email@example.com
OFFA’S DYKE CENTRE
The Offa’s Dyke Centre is in Knighton, Powys. The attractive purpose-made building was opened in 1999. It is 200 metres west of the Knighton town centre clock, and overlooks the town’s riverside park and play area.
The Centre houses an exhibition on the Dyke and its history, the Offa’s Dyke Association service for walkers on the National Trail, and the Knighton Tourist Information Centre.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,or contact the Centre Manager, ODA, West Street, Knighton, Powys, LD7 1EN (SAE please). Phone 01547 528753.