Offas Dyke nightmare

Posted by: CrazyCragRat

Offas Dyke nightmare - 17/05/05 04:20 PM

Just done the Offas Dyke for the second time thinking that perhaps it was the miserable weather i had last year during the walk that spolit it.
But alas i have come to the conclusion that the walk is pants !
Nothing but stile after stile combined with yet more lousy Welsh weather.
Coupled to that the pubs are always shut, the shops on the trail are non existent and in the northern end of the trail the waymarking has been badly vandalised and the stiles are dangerous and rotten.
I would advise anybody thinking of doing a LDP for the first time to avoid the Offas Dyke like the plague.
Much prefer the Lakeland and Pennines.
Posted by: BARBAROSA

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 18/05/05 05:48 PM

Oh dear, I along with 7 Canadians and 2 Americans who we met on the C2C are doing it this September. What you have said about it and other comments I have heard make me think it will be a bit of a let down after the Coast to Coast.
Posted by: Mark Twain

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 19/05/05 01:46 PM

CRAZY CRAG RAT (Whatever that means!!!)

We leave for Chepstow, Wales on Sunday. We're hiking with two friends from the UK.

We did the C2C last year. Loved it. Thanks for your encouragement regarding the Offa Dyke Path. Will let you know about the great time we had enjoying Mother Nature and our friends. We can take a little (or lot) of rain and a few hundred stiles won't bother us either. The fact that the shops won't be open is considered a blessing. If we wanted that sort of vacation we could have gone to Paris or London.
Posted by: DavidH

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 19/05/05 02:37 PM

Mark Twain,
I am considering walking the Offa's Dyke trail in September. Let me know your impressions of the walk. I have walked the Pennine Way and Southern Upland Way and enjoyed both very much. Have you considered the Camino de Santiago in Spain?

Posted by: CrazyCragRat

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 19/05/05 04:02 PM

Hello there Mark.Sorry to be so negative about the Offas Dyke Path but i guess you must make up your own mind once you have got a few days of the hike under your belt.
If the prospect of a few stiles doesnt deter you then please look forward to the 700+ that you will have to shinny over.I gave the ODP the benefit of the doubt by doing the walk on two different occasions at different times of the year and found it to be a gloomy and dull hike on both occasions.The one highlight of the walk was the stretch from Pandy to Hay on Wye which was most enjoyable.There were a few other memorable parts of the walk but not enough to inspire me to say that the ODP was a great trek.
The start at the marker stone at Sedbury is uninspiring and you would be ill advised to park your car in Sedbury itself as you may find your wheels missing and the vehicle standing on bricks. The termination at Prestatyn is a depressing end to the 180 mile slog and it would be advisable to end the walk at the base of the inland cliff quarry rather than risk life and limb by heading to the seafront.Just take a look at the local Pontins and you will get my drift.Anybody carying a heavily laden backpack will im sure be cursing the ODP path by their third or fourth day.I personally encourage anybody to head North and walk the high level trails.I am not against low level trails and have enjoyed walks such as the Ridgeway,Worcs Way,Cotswold way and South Coast Path but i found the ODP to be a muddy,stile ridden hike with far to many gloomy woods and fine views few and far.But everyone to their own and im sure that many will enjoy it.If you do or have done then best of luck to you.
Posted by: CrazyCragRat

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 19/05/05 04:08 PM

Barbarosa,all the best to you and your Canadian friends.I hope the weather will be kind to you in Wales and please let me know your opinions once you have completed the ODP.If you compare the C2C to the ODP whilst you are walking then you will undoubtably be left feeling a little let down so go into the walk with an open mind and see how it goes.
Posted by: chacho

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 21/05/05 05:56 PM

Sorry for my English,

I am for Spain and I am planing to walk the full ODF this summer.

Some one please tell me it is no so terrible. I was living in Llangollen for 3 months and I have great memories of Wales. The weather was terrible but bearable and the surronding pathts of Llangollen were great.

I think it will be worth
Posted by: FootSore

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 26/05/05 06:56 PM

Did it a couple of years ago.

I agree, as long as you like farmers fields and stiles it's great!

Pandy to Hay on Way is a nice days walk along open fell and is the only highlight of the walk.

Of the ones I've done:

Penine Way
Coast 2 Coast
St.Cuthberts Way
Dales Way
Cumbrian Way
South Downs Way
North Downs Way
Cleveland Way
West Highland Way
Hadrians Wall
and Offa's Dyke Path

ODP is the worst, Hadrians Wall the 2nd worst for the record. I think the reason is they both try to follow something that was there many years ago and generally isn't anymore. So rather than find good routes they stick as close to something that isn't there as possible. Whatever you have to go through. Mainly farmers fields on both, and wallsend on one of them..

My own thoughts.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 03/06/05 06:17 PM

The highlight of this walk for me was the stretch into Kington.

As I walked over Bradnor Hill, the mist broke the sun appeared to reveal some spectacular views of the mist filled valleys below the photos I took look like Iam in a plane surrounded by clouds.

The days walk ended with a walk across Kington Golf Course (the highest golf course in England) and a fine session in The New Inn,Kington, one of the finest unspoilt little ale houses in all England.
Posted by: Mark Twain

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 12/06/05 02:03 PM

Originally posted by BARBAROSA:
Oh dear, I along with 7 Canadians and 2 Americans who we met on the C2C are doing it this September. What you have said about it and other comments I have heard make me think it will be a bit of a let down after the Coast to Coast.

My wife and I just finished the ODP on Tuesday, flew home to Boston on Thursday. We found the hike to be a lot tougher than the C2C with not a noticeable difference in stiles climbed. There are a lot more hills to navigate than the C2C so get your legs in shape. We saw some beautiful scenery and trodded through a whole load of sheep and cow manure, not unlike that encountered on th C2C. It wasn't as exciting as the C2C but we were with good company and for the most part the B&Bs and pubs were OK. The food was typically British, meaning just fair, but we don't go for the food. I wouldn't rush out to do it again but we had a good time and next year might try the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way in Scotland. Hope these comments help.
Posted by: HikeMania

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 12/06/05 03:11 PM

I've only completed the southern part of the ODP, but I/we thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked in mid-May 2004, and had some delightful weather (sunny every day, hardly a drop of rain, can you believe it?). The scenery on Hatterrall Ridge was incredible, but that certainly wasn't the only highlight. There were loads of great views each day.

I can't compare the ODP to the C2C, as I haven't walked the latter. However, I did enjoy the variety of environment on the ODP: shaded woodlands, farmers' fields, open grassland, exposed hilltops, riverside paths -- all with nice towns and villages along the way.

My pack was small, and only weighed 13 pounds, so the stiles didn't present a problem. And we were only disappointed once with a closed pub -- thankfully there was an open one not too far down the road! The B&Bs in which we stayed were fantastic (e-mail me if you want my recommendations). We're very much looking forward to completing the northern part in Sept of this year.

Perhaps the northern part is dramatically different from the southern part? For those of you who posted (who are dissatisfied with the ODP) -- would you say that your dissatisfaction was more with the northern part than the southern part? Any particular words of wisdom you would offer to anyone just doing the northern part? (Besides "don't do it" [img][/img] -- we're going to do it anyway, but want to avoid specific pitfalls you encountered.) Thanks in advance!
Posted by: tonyk

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 12/06/05 04:42 PM

I guess its down to different strokes for different folks.We all view scenery differently.For me the Pennine Way has always been superior to the Coast to Coast but I doubt that many people would share that view.We all look for different things from a walk.I tend to like remoteness and desolation and the Pennine Way has that in abundance.

The only way to experience a walk is to get out there and do it.Often a person has had bad experiences with the weather or health problems such as blisters and painful knees and this can leave them with a negative impression of the walk.In the 25 years I have been walking I have come to realise that all walks have their good and bad points.The Coast to Coast has one or two boring sections(at least they are boring to me)so we can't say the Coast to Coast is the perfect walk. The Pennine Way is little more than a stroll in good weather but if you get high winds and rain it becomes more of a fight for survival than a walk.Wainwright had very negative views of the Pennine Way but he had two weeks of rain and has admitted this gave him a negative impression of the walk.

My advice is to do the walk and then form an opinion on it.You might even find that you enjoy it.

[This message has been edited by tonyk (edited 12 June 2005).]
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 13/06/05 08:01 PM

Myself and a pal did the ODP a few years ago. There is not the same camaraderie as when doing some of the more popular paths as a times you could think you were the only ones doing the route. We found sufficient open pubs for a luntime bevy en route. It is described in some guides as an easy route, which it is not. There are many stiles most of which are extra high, so a bit awkward for the shorter person. I use an altimeter and measured each days ascent. For the whole route the amount of climbing is over 21,000 feet! Some days were better than others, but overall, I enjoyed it and I am considering doing it North to South soon.
Posted by: TheBFB

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 01/07/05 01:57 PM

Walked from Trevor to Prestatyn on the ODP from 28-30 June and having just finished can honestly say - stay away!!!!!! Everything went right for us in that Trevor to Llanarmon was glorious sunshine, The Clwydian Hills were overcast and Bodfari to Prestatyn was sunshine - any hotter on any day may have killed me and at least one of my two fully laden rucksacked amigos - bearing in mind that we had 3 litres each of water and drunk the lot on each day and had nowhere to replenish en-route. The Hills apart this walk seems to have been cobbled together in some tourist office somewhere with the sole intention of taking walkers away from villages, over as many stiles, through as many fields and with as many climbs as possible. And did I mention the miles and miles of walking on roads? Or the fields? Or the stiles? Truly dreadful. A Welsh welcome was invisible at the few pubs we saw on the way (Exception being the Downing Arms and Rosie the fantastic barmaid)and we met (Count 'em) 14 people on the way along with 3 people atacking wild dogs.
I'm becoming delirious now - but the final stretch into Prestatyn defies belief. Clim up about 50,000 feet into the hills for no reason at all, then descend steeply to a mian road with no path - then walk a mile down the High Street which now is full of nail bars, chip shops, cheap souvenirs and hooligans. Stay away from Prestatyn and steer clear of the Offa's Dyke Path at all costs.
Posted by: HikeMania

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 01/07/05 03:13 PM

Ok, a little balance here.

First, TheBFB, thanks for your post -- you've caused me to take a much closer look at the final 35-40 miles of the path. You're absolutely right about the roads -- the path merges with the road a great number of times, and for quite long stretches of distance. Obviously not a fun time, especially when one is forced to walk directly on the road (instead of a path). And the walk to/into/through Prestatyn doesn't look or sound good at all -- you're certainly not the first person who has mentioned that fact.

I must say, however, that the final 35-40 miles of the ODP is not indicative of the entire ODP. The southern part of the ODP is the only part I've walked so far, and it was very enjoyable. The ~50-mile section between White Castle (near Llanvetherine) and Knighton is especially nice. Plenty of wide open spaces and fantastic scenery, and enough villages and towns along the path so that you have a number of great pubs from which to choose. There are also not too many stiles (as compared to the rest of the path). Hatterrall Hill to Hay Bluff was spectacular, as was Hergest Ridge. Hay on Wye, Kington, Gladestry, Knighton -- all fantastic.

Even the ~30 miles from the beginning of the path to White Castle were okay; just maybe a bit "boring" as compared to the WC-Knighton stretch. Even so, there was some very good scenery at times in this section, and plenty of nice towns/villages/pubs/B&Bs along the way.

It definitely sounds like the northern half is not nearly as nice as the southern half, based on this and other threads. But I would suggest to anyone who has completed the northern half, that the worst may be over, and you'll probably be in for a treat in the southern half.

[This message has been edited by HikeMania (edited 01 July 2005).]
Posted by: CrazyCragRat

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 02/07/05 02:17 PM

Well said BFB.
The closing stages of the ODP have to be the worst i have ever had the misfortune to encounter.
Prestatyn is a dump and as i walked the last mile or so struggling down the busy high street i lost count of the number of times that cars full of Burberry capped taff twerps shouted and hurled abuse as i made my way to the sea front.
The final stages of the ODP are not to bad in places as i found the Clywdian range quite exciting if not a bit windswept.
But all in all the walk is an anti-climax and could do with serious re-routing to increase the quality of the walk.
Posted by: TheBFB

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 02/07/05 08:07 PM

Thanks for the comments guys. Two days later, my feelings haven't changed at all re the Northen Part of the path. I would say to others in the interests of balance - don't be put off - but do be aware. There were times that the road walking near the end was a blessed relief from the yomps across fields. We never saw any real evidence of the dyke but are aware that near the soutehrn end the walking is way better with great views of it and we may do more in the future. However, I will definitely be using hotels or B&Bs and probably a sherpa service so that anything I carry will sustain me from stop to stop.
Posted by: RobR

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 05/07/05 09:07 PM

I've just completed OD, North to South in 8.5 days. I backpacked, staying on campsites or farms listed on the ODA list. All were near to pubs for evening meal or provided food in the case of the farms. I used the Trailblazer's guide which describes the route North to South, however some of the sketch maps in the book require a good imagination. OS maps are needed as well as some waymark posts are overgrown or missing. The book does have some very useful information for pubs, shops, B&B's etc.
It is not an easy walk, but I enjoyed it immensely, yes there are lots of stiles and plenty of steep hills to climb. There are some long sections of road walking and the bit between Llanymynech (beware the swans) and Buttington (beware crossing the bridge)is flat and boring. This is my first long distance path, so I can't compare with others, but I found it a great experience and worthwhile challenge. I was fortunate to have mostly cool weather in the middle of June, I would avoid attempting the walk when its hot, as there are some stretches where it is not possible to fill up your water bottle, as I found on my last day in 30C.
Posted by: argonaut

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 15/07/05 09:05 AM

I made the mistake of doing the C-2-C 1st.
all the walks i have done since, i have been disappointed with. Have no intention of doing the ODP SIMPLY BECAUSE I DONT LIKE WALES OR THE WELSH PEOPLE.
I go back and do the C-2-C every 3 years and still think it is the BEST.
Posted by: Tom de Sherwood

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 15/07/05 12:34 PM

Argonaut, I find it hard to understand how you can dislike a Nation and the Country. Unless of course you have met all of them and been everywhere in their land [img][/img]
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 15/07/05 06:39 PM

I did the ODP a few years ago, with a pal. Due to the usual misconceptions of people, (Theres good and bad everywhere) I must admit we were a bit weary. However, apart from one B&B owned by a very strange women, everyone else, the locals, I mean, were very friendly and helpful.
Posted by: argonaut

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 16/07/05 09:50 AM

"Argonaut, I find it hard to understand how you can dislike a Nation and the Country"
TOM, met enough of them in the services, and must say, never could get any Friendships going with any of them, they were always whining & whinging, can't stand the sound of their voices, and every one i met was so tight fisted, they would'nt part with their skin if they where snakes. But i know i should'nt cast them all in the same mould, but would never go out of my way to put it right.
Posted by: argonaut

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 16/07/05 04:21 PM

[img][/img] [img][/img] YOU KNOW WHERE I'M COMING FROM.
Posted by: Kite21

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 31/07/05 04:51 PM

For a beautiful, stile-free (virtually) walk try the Cleveland Way. It's gorgeous.

I have no ideas why it isn't more popular. Moorland followed by beautiful coastal paths. Great stuff.

Posted by: CrazyCragRat

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 03/08/05 01:00 PM

Agreed Kite.
The Cleveland Way is a superb LDP and one that i have done a number of times.
Posted by: Seyerus

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 10/08/05 02:05 PM

Wow, that's a lot of negativity towards the ol' ODP, I hope that it doesn't put too many people off because I think it is one of the best LDP's in the country (for a real dull walk, the Southern Upland Way beats all!). I did it in Mar 03 and enjoyed every minute, lots of hills and mountains, loads of places to wild camp and some truly stunning views. Of course it's got some dull bits but surely all LDP's have them due to their very nature (even the daddy of 'em all, the Coast2Coast has it's dull bits, between Richmond and The Cleveland Hills springs to mind).
As someone has already said on this forum 'each to their own' but I really don't think the ODP deserves such bad press, although I do agree that Prestatyn is an awful town and I would love to see the end re-routed to finish in Rhyl!!
Posted by: BARBAROSA

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 21/09/05 12:14 PM

Well my wife and I have just finished ODP with our 3 American and 5 Canadian friends we met 2 years ago on the C2C. After reading some of the very negative reports on the forum we were apprehensive about what we were in for, however we need not have feared as the Walk was Excellent. We all found it tougher than the C2C and the scenery throughout the walk was great. The weather was varied but on the whole good for some excellent views. With all things in life it is how you deal with your situation that counts, we had great company all the way, stopped in some good B and B's, taught our North American friends how to drink Guiness and generally got out of the walk what we put into it. We even got interviewed by BBC Shropshire and featured in the breakfast show.
So for all of you who read the forum and think it sounds bad, don't be put off. It is a good walk and Prestatyn is not quite as bad as you might think.
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 23/09/05 06:08 PM

Well done and well said.

[This message has been edited by Slogger (edited 23 September 2005).]
Posted by: CDNWALKER

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 30/10/05 07:54 AM

I walked ODP, South to North, in late May .... I enjoyed it thoroughly. The day North of Knighton was certainly challenging with ups and downs and ups and downs but otherwise it was fairly easy. Waymarking, other than just south of Redbrook, was pretty good. I had great meals in great pubs and the walkers who I met up with were very friendly (even a group of octogenarians fron New Hampshire!) Of the 12 B&Bs only one was poor but the others were good to great. The scenery was spectacular: beautiful hills and cute villages and canals etc etc. The weather was largley clear, however, it seemed to get chillier and chillier later in May. For those doing it I recommend that you wear high boots when passing through Gornel farm because of the manure and beware of viscious little dog. For the guy who "hates Wales" I might remind him that one third of the path is in England, but he probably hates that place too.
Posted by: barney44

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 01/11/05 05:05 AM

I walked OD in September 2002. I had previously walked the Pennine Way and Southern Upland Way. I have since walked WHW and Great Glen Way, all alone.
Coming from Brisbane, any walking in Britain is wonderful, however I have to agree that OD was the least enjoyable of all. Admittedly, the weather wasn't very kind to me and I also fell and fractured a bone in my hand just north of Knighton (and on my 58th birthday!). I soldiered on, but crossing stiles became a real challenge!
The southern section is the better half. I finished in Prestatyn on a week day in September and it was relatively quiet, so didn't experience any problems. It is an anticlimax though.
Pennine Way was my first LDP and to me still the best, although I am doing The Ridgeway and Coast to Coast next June, so my opinion might change!
ANY LDP is a challenge and an adventure, but gives one a great sense of pride and great satisfaction when completed.
Posted by: littleangel

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 23/11/05 03:20 PM

This will be my first time doing the ODP it will also be my first major walk and i was wondering if anyone had any advice they could give me on the walk it would be most grateful
Posted by: Seyerus

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 28/11/05 03:03 PM

Little Angel,

You may want to start a new Topic to get the most of the vast experience available on this site otherwise people may miss the Post where it is now.

If you're planning to walk carrying 'full kit' then I can give you some advice but I have next to no experience of B&B's etc en-route.

Post a new Topic and you'll get bags of advice I'm sure.

Posted by: Lounge Lizard

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 11/06/06 11:03 PM

I walked the Offas Dyke Path fifteen years ago, but was going north to south so didn't spend six days heading towards Prestatyn.
Posted by: Borderman

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 26/06/06 05:29 PM

I've done it about 11 times over the past 15 years,both directions and in all weathers, but I am planning to do it again in august probably blindfolded!
Posted by: Lounge Lizard

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 26/06/06 07:32 PM

Borderman, Others might choose to be blindfolded only as they approach and walk through Prestatyn.
Posted by: Borderman

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 22/07/06 09:24 PM

Best to walk south away from Prestatyn if the view offends you!
Posted by: Lounge Lizard

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 23/07/06 08:06 AM

Borderman, yes, that's the way I walked it, north to south.
Posted by: trailwalker

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 17/08/06 01:43 AM

You know, I really should quit reading these message boards. Many of the posts seem intemperate and closed-minded. I've walked the C2C twice, also Dales Way, parts of the Cambrian Way, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the Dingle Way in Ireland. Maybe it's because I'm an American, but I see wonderful things in all these walks. I did Offa's Dyke as my first long-distance path in the U.K. For the record, there are 400+ stiles, not 700+ as one of the complainers says. The southern part is rich with history ... walking above Tintern Abbey gave me chills. Hatterall Ridge is beautiful ... the whole walk up to Montgomery is varied and interesting. Montgomery to Trefonen is a bit flat, but so is Richmond to Ingleby Cross on the C2C. The area around Llangollen at World's End is gorgeous, as are the moels around Ruthin. I met many nice Welsh people. I never made a B&B reservation, depending instead on finding them along the way ... never a problem. There aren't many through hikers on ODP, so take friends if you can't stand your own company. I highly recommend the ODP to anyone who loves the countryside.
Posted by: Lounge Lizard

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 17/08/06 06:39 AM

Some very valid points there trailwalker, but did you do the walk north to south or south to north and what's your opinion of Prestatyn ?
Posted by: CDNWALKER

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 17/08/06 07:23 AM

Well said Trailwalker! Regarding stiles: many times there is an open gate beside the stile....Regarding Prestatyn: the approach (Northbound) is exciting, walking along the cliffs, end in sight. Following the street through town you pass tea houses and shops and pubs, Offa Dyke flags lining the street...I don't see what the problem is.

Trailwalker, studied your webpage for my recent C2C: well done.

(By the come these old threads keep getting revived??)
Posted by: Wasted_ace

Re: Offas Dyke nightmare - 24/08/06 06:57 PM

Some fair comments fronm all sides i say.
I have walked the ODP twice in the last few years and granted it can be a bit dreary in places just as most other LDPs have their "bad bits".
Weather can make a tremendous difference in Wales and if its bad then the trip can become very hard and persons perception of the walk can often be judged on that and not the quality of what it contains.
The beginning and end of the ODP is a dissapointment but the many excellent section make up for any shortcomings.
I shall be revisisting the ODP in late September to do a stretch from Kington Top Montgomery,arguably the most difficult section.