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Offa's Dyke Path featured image: a woman stands beside her tent with her arms on her head looking out over the mountains of Brecon Beacons National Park

Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail – The Backpacker’s Guide

Offa’s Dyke Path  – go straight to the contents

This is your ultimate guide to planning a backpacking trip on the Offa’s Dyke Path, with everything you need to know!

It’s based on my own experience of hiking the trail and covers my costs, transport, wild camping and so much more! Let’s dive in.

Wild camping on Offa's Dyke Path national trail.A small green tent is pitched with a view of the mountains and Stephanie looks at the camera smiling.

Offa’s Dyke Path goes through Brecon Beacons National Park – the perfect wild camp view

How Many Miles Is The Offa’s Dyke Path?

Offa’s Dyke Path is a stunning national trail that runs for 177 miles along the English-Welsh border

Anglo-Saxon history is often quite literally under your feet when you walk Offa’s Dyke Path. The Dyke is an impressive earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia in the 8th century. It follows a line that marked and defended the border of Mercia (now England) and Wales and there are still miles intact. Offa’s Dyke was about 2.5 metres high and 20 metres wide, with the ditch on the Welsh side of the border.

Researchers believe that Offa may have connected much older defenses to create the continuous Dyke that’s named after him. And I could hardly believe it, but in many places, you actually walk along the top of the Dyke itself.

Offa's Dyke Path often follows the route of the Dyke itself and this photo shows an earthy path along the top of an embankment with trees growing either side (a rowan tree with red berries) and mountains in the distance.

A path along the top of the Dyke

The Path isn’t just about Offa’s Dyke though. There are some impressive sections of trail that wend their way through the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Shropshire Hills, and the Clwydian Range. These sections offer spectacular views out across the landscape from ridges and hilltops alike. And there’s plenty of challenging walking along the way too.

Offa’s Dyke Path is not to be missed – I absolutely loved it!

Offa’s Dyke Path – Ultimate Guide For Hikers

Offa's Dyke Path national trail winds its way along a ridge and looks out to mountains and a valley in the background. It's summer and there's a blue sky and purple heather.

Hatterrall Ridge in The Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park. One of the highlights of Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail

Contents

    1. Where Does Offa’s Dyke Start And End?
    2. How Long Does It Take To Hike Offa’s Dyke? My Daily Miles
    3. Getting To And From The Trail Public Transport
    4. Budget For Offa’s Dyke (My Costs)
    5. Wild Camping And Campsites Along The Trail
    6. My Gear List
    7. Places To Eat And Drink  Cafes, Pubs, Groceries and Water
    8. Is Offa’s Dykle Well-Signposted? (Signs, Maps And Guides)
    9. Anything Else?

 

Where Does Offa’s Dyke Path Start And End?

Two small Welsh ponies, one dark and one light brown, grazing on a mountain ridge that looks out over hills in the background

Welsh Ponies grazing on Hatterrall Ridge in the Brecon Beacons National Park

The trail starts and finishes in Wales, from Chepstow in the south to Prestatyn in the north

About 2/3 of the trail is in Wales, but it winds its way across the border without any ceremony. In fact, the only way you know whether you’re in England or Wales is that the trail signs suddenly change language. They might be English one minute and bi-lingual the next – Llwybr Clawdd Offa, being the Welsh but sadly no one I asked knew how to pronounce it. I’d walked 100 miles before I heard any Welsh speakers and I was too shy to ask by then. Instead, I decided I’d rather ask my Welsh friend when I got back home to Cornwall! (And I haven’t seen him yet so I can’t enlighten you.)

Which Is The Best Way To Hike Offa’s Dyke Path?

The best way to hike Offa’s Dyke Path is south to north because that’s the way I did it haha! Seriously though, it makes no difference along the way. Most of the ‘wow factors’ are at either end of the trail, with the Brecon Beacons in the south and the Clwydian Range in the north. Even so, there are a couple of things that might sway your decision, especially if you want to save the best till last.

Looking happy with arms wide open above a low concrete marker with a plaque that says Offa's Dyke Path

A stone marker at the beginning of the trail in Sedbury near Chepstow (heading north)

But what’s best for you?

Love the sea and a big horizon? Then you need to walk south to north. But if you love deep dark woods with the meandering rivers beneath your feet then north to south is for you. On the other hand, and this is what would sway it for me, most of us want a bit of a celebratory atmosphere at the end of a long hike. And, frankly, Sedbury (at the southern end of the trail) is seriously lacking.

View from high above looking down on the River Wye with a tall iron footbridge crossing it in the middle distance.

Heading down into Redbrook with fantastic views over the River Wye towards the southern end of the trail

That lump of concrete in the photo above? That’s it. True, the lump of concrete is on the Dyke itself, but that’s the only remarkable thing about it. If you’re heading south you’d end your hike winding through alleyways alongside housing estates to a very disappointing finish. There’s no view whatsoever here, just a meeting of paths – and only the odd dog walker or cow to share your exhilaration with. There wasn’t even a decent-looking pub around (there might be something more appealing in Chepstow though, just a few miles away).

Compare that to what you get if you hike Offa’s Dyke Path the other way round…

At the end (or start!) of the Offa's Dyke trail you'll see this tall silver statue with three wavy 'legs' and a holed circular top that reflects the light of the sea and sky

The end of the trail on the seafront in Prestatyn

Need I say more? No. But I’ll just add that there are loads of cafes, pubs, restaurants, B&Bs, hotels, and places to buy clean socks before you hop on the train right in the bustling town centre. What more could you want?

Once you’ve got your direction sorted, the next question you might want to consider is how long you’ll need to be away.

How Long Does It Take To Hike Offa’s Dyke Path?

A stony track across heather clad moorland under a low cloudy sky

A well-made track across the open moor to Llandegla Forest

This obviously depends on how many miles you’d like to walk each day and where you plan to stay. Your daily miles are restricted if you plan to stay at B&Bs or campsites and you’ll end up walking a fair way off-trail in many circumstances. By far the most flexible approach is wild camping (and you can definitely do this the entire route), but there are a few campsites right on the trail which makes a mix of the two possible.

I decided on an average of 17.5 miles a day from days 2 to 10 (which is exactly how it worked out), with just a few miles on my travel days. I thought (but didn’t specify) that I might stay at 1 or 2 campsites along the way – especially towards the end so I could clean up before the long journey home!

Here’s how my itinerary actually worked out:

My Daily Miles

My itinerary ended up like this (distances are approximate) :

  • Day 1: (Travel to Chepstow, walk 1.5 miles to trail start) 6.5 miles to Devil’s Pulpit area
  • Day 2: 17.5 miles to Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern area
  • Day 3: 25 miles to Hatterrall Ridge area
  • Day 4: 19 miles to Gladestry (campsite – see below)
  • Day 5: 15 miles to Hawthorne Hill area
  • Day 6: 11 miles to Graig Hill area
  • Day 7: 20 miles to Buttington area
  • Day 8: 15.5 miles to Trefonen (campsite – see below) – includes walking off-trail into Montgomery village
  • Day 9: 16 miles above Llangollen – includes walking off-trail into Llangollen
  • Day 10: 14 miles to Moel Y Gelli area
  • Day 11: 22 miles to Marian Ffrith area
  • Day 12: 4.5 miles to Prestatyn (Travel home)

Getting To And From The Trail

Grey crags with leafy trees to the left and a track curving under them

Heading up Eglwyseg Crags (near Llangollen)

Public Transport

Where Is The Nearest Train Station To Offa’s Dyke Path?

Chepstow

  • Train:  Chepstow Railway Station is the nearest train station to Offa’s Dyke Path in the south (about 2 miles from the start/end of the trail). It’s operated by Transport For Wales but serves various rail companies. Use websites like Split Ticketing or National Rail Enquires to buy tickets, or call in to your local station.
  • Coach: National Express operate a service from London to Chepstow and may also operate services to Chepstow from other areas of the country.
  • You could also consider services like Megabus which run to Bristol where there’s a rail connection to Chepstow
  • Finally, you could try Check My Bus to see what’s available from your area.

Prestatyn

  • Train: Prestatyn Railway Station is the nearest train station to Offa’s Dyke Path in the north. It’s right on the trail in the town centre and is also operated by Transport For Wales. Use websites like Split Ticketing or National Rail Enquires to buy tickets, or call in to your local station.
  • Coach: once again Check My Bus is a good way to find out what’s available to and from your local area.

Budget

How Much It Cost To Hike Offa’s Dyke Path

A view from Hergest Ridge looking across bracken to the hills in the distance with a red berried rowan tree in the middle distance

Fantastic views from Hergest Ridge – worth their weight in gold!

Travel – Train

I used Split Ticketing to find the best price train tickets and then took the details to my local station to buy them. I prefer to do this because I like to speak to an actual person! (Buying train tickets can be complicated because it’s possible lots of train operators are involved.)

  • Truro to Chepstow (outward journey): £41.10
  • Prestatyn to Truro (return journey): £81.20
  • TOTAL: £122.30

Maps And Guides
Bought for planning before I left home and on trail

  • Cicerone Map Booklet: £9.95
  • Trailblazer Guide Offa’s Dyke Path: £12.99 (was a gift, but included to give a clear picture)
  • TOTAL: £22.94

Campsites

  • 2 at £10 each
  • TOTAL: £20.00

Cafes And Groceries

Includes 7 sit-down lunches/breakfasts, water, soft drinks (I spent a fortune on cold drinks during the 26-degree heat), groceries, and meals for train travel (7 hours out and 10 hours home)

  • TOTAL: £148.66

    Average of £12.37 per day over 12 days. (I was pleased with this as I usually aim for an average of £12.00 a day.)

Miscellaneous

  • £2.50 artist’s card
  • 4.99 suncream
  • 2.99 can of gas
  • TOTAL: £10.48

TOTAL COST: £324.38

Incidentals (not included above):

  • x 3 prs dry socks (Llangollen): £7.99 to save foot rot (You can easily avoid this cost by packing enough before you go!)
  • Trainers (Prestatyn): £10.09*
  • T-shirt (Prestatyn): £6.60*
    *For the journey home. By the time I got to Prestatyn everything I was wearing (or had worn) was absolutely soaked through. Also, my feet stank to high heaven and I didn’t fancy sitting on a train in this state for 10 hours!
  • Total £24.68

How much it costs to hike Offa’s Dyke Path is mostly dependent on the cost of travel, I think, especially if you plan to wild camp. The cost of groceries and cafes seemed pretty similar to back home in Cornwall. I took £100 cash with me to try and restrain my spending in cafes…which wasn’t too bad, but could have been a bit better! (I found I spent a lot more on cold, sugary drinks in the heat.)

Can You Wild Camp On Offa’s Dyke Path?

It’s very easy to wild camp on Offa’s Dyke Path, and as a solo female hiker I felt completely safe all the way.

Woman seen from behind in the mid distance, standing with her arms on her head next to a low 1 person tent. There's a mountain range in the near distance and a big blue sky.

A wild camp with big views over the Brecon Beacons

It’s not actually legal to wild camp without the land owner’s permission – and it’s not always easy to find them. That said, I got permission to camp on a lady’s ‘verge with a view’ (that sounds so wrong!), for example. So if you can, ask.

Wild camping on Offa’s Dyke Path doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find a pitch with magnificent views though. (There are some of course.) Even so, you’ll find plenty of field edges where you can pitch up out of sight ready to catch a starry sky or a sublime sunset.

If you decide to wild camp on Offa’s Dyke Path there are principles that you should adhere to. They ensure you protect the environment as well as people’s livelihoods and they’re called Leave No Trace. This article discusses the general principles and suggests 12 practical ways you can put them into practice. Whether you’re completely new to wild camping in the UK or need a refresher, give it a read before you go.

A green tent in the foreground with a view out across hills. There's an unsightly burnt fire and rocks in the middle distance that scars the ground

I set up where people had left the remains of a fire and scarred the ground. They obviously didn’t care about the environment, sheep, or other people (not only was the ground scarred, but the remains were full of metal) and left more than a trace, including a risk to likestock…

If you want to know what kit you’ll need, or things like going to the loo outside, how to find a pitch, or stay safe then you need my Ultimate Guide To Wild Camping:

Your ultimate guide to wild camping in the UK

Campsites On Offa’s Dyke Path

I stayed at 2 campsites on Offa’s Dyke Path and both of them were right on the trail. They’re ideal for backpackers and I had them both to myself so it felt like wild camping with extras!

Here’s what I thought:

Camping At Gladestry

Offa’s Dyke Lodge B&B at Gladestry – Bed and Breakfast, Walkers Camping – £10.00

A basic backpackers' campsite with a view over a big, conical shaped hill. A small, low tent is in the foreground.

When you’re the only one at a backpackers’ campsite with a view like this (and a particularly good indoor bathroom), who’s complaining!

It was late in the day when I arrived in Gladestry and I could see a massive hill ahead (above) and guessed it would take a while to find somewhere level to pitch. As I was walking through the village though I noticed a sign for a b&b and camping. I called in on the off-chance and I’m glad I did.

The ‘campsite’ is basically an immaculate back garden with a grand view over the hill. Designed solely for backpackers it was incredibly peaceful. The owner, Viv, runs a b&b business, and the campers’ bathroom is fit for the most discerning of them! There’s an outdoor tap and you can order breakfast or a packed lunch too.

Absolutely perfect.

Camping At Nantmawr/Trefonen

Offa’s Dyke Camping – £10.00

This was much more basic and rough-and-ready, but a very peaceful experience and no wild camper would feel out of place. Again, I didn’t phone ahead and just turned up at the gate. (I didn’t even realise it was a camping field – I’d just stuck my head over the gate to ask the time because my phone and watch had died.)

What made this really special was the owner Rachel and her teenage sons’ kindness and willingness to make you feel welcome. As soon as I arrived I was offered a flask of hot water and shown the composting toilet, an outdoor sink, and a shower being fitted and almost ready.

I couldn’t be arsed with a shower, but what I really, really wanted was to wash my stinking, soaking wet feet and to rinse out my socks. I asked for a bucket of water but Rachel and her sons brought over a bucket of hot water, a towel and soap…and a chair! Pure luxury haha!

Also, without asking, Rachel offered to charge my phone and even charged my battery overnight.

Just lovely, thank you Rachel!

NB There’s also a bell tent for hire on Airbnb

My Gear List

Stephanie Boon hiking Offa's Dyke Path in a summer heatwave (sweating buckets!) with hills in the background

Sweltering heat requires quick-drying clothes!

Base Weight: 13.4 kg 

(Gross weight added over 500g of food and up to 4.5 L of water/drink in extreme heat.)

My gear is not the lightest and needs a serious overhaul:

Your hiking gear should weigh approximately 20% of your body weight

Mine’s way too heavy then. I’m gradually trying to lighten the load though, but it’s an expensive undertaking. (You can find out how I’ve afforded it this year in Hiking Shit That Scares Me Every Day.)

Rucksack

Osprey Renn 65 Women’s Specific rucksack (read my review)

Tent

  • Wild Country Zephyros 1 tent
  • Wild Country tent footprint

Cooking

  • MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove
  • Part used Coleman C300 gas canister (This ran out and I bought a 100 canister on trail)
  • Trangia cooking pot with lid and handle
  • Titanium spork
  • Titanium mug with lid
  • Victorinox Swiss army knife
  • 1/2 a small scourer

Sleeping

  • Thermarest Neoair Xlite sleeping mat
  • 18-year-old sleeping bag (packed in an Osprey dry bag)

Water

  • 2l bladder and a 750ml Camelback bottle

First Aid

  • 8 blister plasters; 4 ordinary plasters; a strip of wound closures; 1 large self-adhesive dressing; 1 medium self-adhesive dressing; 1 safety pin; emergency foil blanket; 1 strip of Ibuprofen; 1 strip of antihistamine; tick remover

Check out more ideas for your first aid kit here: What’s In Your Outdoor First Aid Kit?

Toiletries etc

  • Personal medication; toilet paper, 4 dog poo bags and a plastic trowel; microfibre towel (doubled as a blanket) and a 4″ square ‘flannel’ cut from an old microfibre towel; sun cream and bug spray; 1/2 travel toothbrush and toothpaste; small tin Vaseline and tube of foot cream; travel Shampoo and conditioner; matchbox size piece of soap and 8 wet wipes; hairbrush and hair ties; face mask and hand sanitiser

Clothes (Wearing)

  • Salomon Outbound Hiking Shoes
  • Bridgedale socks
  • Sports bra
  • Underwear
  • Mountain Equipment shorts
  • Mountain Equipment long sleeve t-shirt
  • Alpine Lowe cap
  • Sunglasses

Clothes (Packed in a Sea-To-Summit Dry Bag)

  • Ayacucho waterproof jacket
  • Berghaus Paclite Gore-Tex trousers
  • Pair of M&S merino tights (sleep)
  • Mountain Equipment short-sleeve t-shirt
  • Rab padded gilet (doubled as a pillow)
  • Hagloffs thin zip-up fleece
  • 1 pair Bridgedale socks
  • 3 pairs underwear

Electronics/Camera (Packed in an Osprey Dry Bag)

  • 20,000 MaH Anker battery bank (metal casing) with cable and fast charger
  • Sony Experia phone/camera and fast charger
  • Bluetooth remote
  • Selfie stick (also used as a tripod)
  • Fitness watch and cable
  • Anker solar panel

Other/Spares

  • Petzl headtorch in case (the case adds 63g, but it turns the headtorch into the perfect tent light)
  • Webbing strap (for tent/spare)
  • Personal alarm
  • Waist belt
  • Debit cards, train tickets and small amount of cash (around £15)
  • Reading glasses in a soft case
  • Cicerone map and map case
  • Compass and magnifying glass
  • Trailblazer guidebook
  • Plastic peg
  • Plastic food bag clip
  • Shoelaces
  • Binbag for tent
  • Various food bags for packing
  • Journal/sketchbook and pencils
  • Sun umbrella (for the extreme heat/rain)
  • Pair of MSR walking poles

Check out my gear reviews here – all kit I’ve used over time.

Gear I Should Have Left Behind

(And Gear I Wish I’d Had)

A view down a grassy, bracken lined track to the Clwydian Hills on Offa's Dyke Path

Heading into the Clywidian Range before heavy mist and rain set in

Packed but not used:

  • Anker solar panel (My son wanted me to take it because I kept running out of battery on a previous hike. The weather was perfect for it…but I forgot the cable!)
  • Spares/some first aid items (I’d never hike without them)
  • Compass and magnifying glass (again, I’d never hike without them)

NB The Trailblazer guidebook I mentioned above was heavy. However, on other hikes, I’ve photocopied the relevant bits and stuck them in my notebook. (You could even photograph them to save more weight.) I’d do this again in future (I was too disorganised this time round), but I was pleased I had it with me.

I wish I’d Had:

  • More Compeed blister plasters
  • At least 2 more pairs of socks

Amendments To The Gross Weight:

I’ve gradually been replacing my old gear with new and much lighter gear, and it’s making a difference – but not as quickly as I’d like!

In 2021 I’ve upgraded my sleeping mat, walking poles, mug, stove and dry bags. I’ve also bought extra things though, like a trekking umbrella, which weighs less than 90g. (I used it on the Cotswold Way as well as this trail, in heatwaves and heavy rain – and it was awesome!)

By The Way…

If you want a laugh, read this and compare the 13.4kg for Offa’s Dyke Path to the 15.6kg I took on the South Downs Way national trail earlier this year! (I’m obviously improving!!):

Image link: Packing List For The South Downs Way

 

Places To Eat And Drink Along Offa’s Dyke Path

Cafes, Pubs and Groceries

Hay-on-Wye: A narrow ramshackle side street with bunting strung between the buildings and a clock tower at the end of the street.

Hay-on-Wye has lots of cafes and pubs, and an excellent Co-op!

Tried, Tested, and enjoyed (except for one!):

Cafes, Pubs, Groceries, And Essentials

  • Truro: train station cafe
  • Newport: train station Costa (on the journey each way)
  • Redbrook: Redbrook Village Stores (excellent for basics)
  • Monmouth: Caffe Nero (lunch and charging); M&S (soft drinks)
  • Hay-on-Wye: Cafe Hay, (breakfast and charging); Shepherds Parlour (lunch)
  • Kington: Border Bean Cafe (lunch and charging); Spar (groceries)
  • Knighton: Clock Tower Tea Rooms (breakfast) I wouldn’t recommend this cafe at all; Spar (groceries plus takeaway coffee and a bakery)
  • Montgomery: Spar (lunch, suncream, groceries – there are tables outside to sit and eat at) (I noticed 2 cafes in the village centre and 2 pubs too)
  • Llangollen: Fouzis (breakfast, charging and Costa coffee – excellent!), ProAdventure (gas – excellent service), Spar (groceries) (+ socks from Trespass)
  • Trevor: Telford Inn (tea/coffee + cakes to take away)
  • Llanymynech: groceries
  • Prestatyn: Costa (lunch and charging); M&S food for the journey home (Next and Newlook for clothes for the journey home)

Water

There are a few longish sections where you may find it difficult to get water (eg Hatteral Ridge in the Brecon Beacons). Don’t panic though because there are often farms around where you can ask at the farmhouse or fill up from taps above water troughs, etc. I even found some stables where I picked up a few litres too – just keep an eye out.

An open barn with a Landrover and hay bails and a black board sign that reads 'if you need water just ask'

Just ask! (Hatterrall Ridge – north, before/after Hay-on-Wye)

 

Is Offa’s Dyke Well Signposted?

(Signs, Maps, And Guides)

Wooden fingerpost that reads: 'Prestatyn 88.5 miles' and 'congratulations you are half way along Offa's Dyke Path National Trail. Only 88.5 miles to go...'. Stephie is leaning on the post under the sign and smiling at the camera.

Fingerposts often mark the way – this is the halfway point. Worth a celebration!

Yes! It certainly is. There are a few places where signs are confusing though, or there ought to be one but there isn’t. Also, you might miss some due to overgrowth or they’re hidden behind parked cars, for example. Not to worry (you’ll soon realise you haven’t seen an acorn for a while), it’s easy to backtrack and you won’t go too far off-trail. However, I recommend taking a map. You’re unlikely to need a compass, but it’s worth having one just in case.

Phone signal is often good but also non-existent or patchy at times, so don’t rely on your phone.

Maps And Guide Books

I was gutted to discover that Collins A-Z Adventure Series official trail map of Offa’s Dyke Path was out of stock. Oh well, I made do with a Cicerone Offa’s Dyke map booklet instead!

  • I absolutely love Trailblazer guidebooks and I bought the 5th edition (2019) guide for Offa’s Dyke by Keith Carter and Joel Newton. It’s packed with all sorts of information from accommodation, maps and itineraries, to wildlife and history.
  • I have a premium subscription to the OS Maps App, which includes 1:25,000 maps. It includes downloadable maps so you can save battery and use them offline. I also use the OS Locate App (completely free), which gives you your grid reference using gps (so you don’t need a phone signal)
  • Silva compass

Anything Else?

View over The Skirrid, a whale-backed hill on the horizon, with green fields in the foreground, on a clear summer's day.

The Skirrid dominates the countryside

Are you ready to plan your hike? If I’ve missed anything you’d like to know just leave a comment below. Also, if you’ve already hiked Offa’s Dyke and you’ve got something to add, we’d love to hear from you too!

Finally, if you have any feedback about this page (was it what you were looking for? Too long or too short? Any suggestions to make it better?) – I’d absolutely love to hear from you! You can email me direct at [email protected] – your thoughts and ideas are really important to me.

Happy hiking

Stephie x

Pssst! Found this guide helpful? Please share!

Looking For More Trail Inspiration?

I recommend these next:

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5 great places to take a break and rest your weary feet!

And

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An inspiring conversation with HeadRightOut podcaster Zoe Langley-Wathen, who’s also hiked Offa’s Dyke Path!

Or why not discover more UK National Trails:

The Cotswold Way Ultimate Guide For Hikers. Stephanie Boon sitting outside the market hall in Chipping Campden

Everything from how much I spent to travel and wild camping

 

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My trail diary and a short planning guide in one!

 

 

 

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