Offa's Dyke 7 Day Trip

Posted by: Alan F

Offa's Dyke 7 Day Trip - 08/09/10 07:32 PM

Having done PW back in May,and C2C last year,I was eager to try one more before the light evenings went,so Offa's Dyke looked a suitable length for a 7 day self sufficient camping trip.I went with the same gear and kit list as my PW June posting,with pack weight around 13lbs (5.8kg),before adding in water and daily food.I used the Trailblazer guide book only,with no O.S maps,as relatively little open high ground.Travelled down the evening before by FGW train,advance booked for 11,and looked around Chepstow Castle on arrival. I intended to camp at Upper Sedbury House,but all shut up,so I walked to the Sedbury Cliffs start and camped on the estuary foreshore,with a nice night view of the Severn Bridge.

Wed 11 August.Dry Sunny Sedbury-Caggle Street 30 miles
Off at 07.00 and a grim first hour through housing estates,then thick woodland above the Wye preventing any great views,apart from Devils Pulpit 09.20.Took the low level path by the Wye,Bigsweir Bridge 11.30,lovely Wye views approaching Redbrook 13.10,then a stop in Monmouth 14.45/15.40 for food and sightseeing,then off thro' The Hendre 17.00,White Castle 19.35,and finally camped at Caggle St 20.20-Gt Tre-Rhew farm for 1,basic but friendly.A mixture of cow fields and woodlands.
Thurs 12th Aug Dry Sunny Windy Caggle St-Hay on Wye 23 miles
Off at 08.00,Llangattock 08.55,Pandy 10.20,Hatterill Ridge 11.10/11.35,Hay Bluff 15.15/15.40,Hay 17.10.A superb 12 mile ridge walk from Pandy,with great views over Golden and Wye valleys,and the Black Mountains.Camped at Radnors End campsite 5,then back into Hay for its ample facilities providing beer and food.
Fri 13 Aug Cool,Heavy showers. Hay to Dolley Green 23 miles
Off at 08.15,with woods and field paths to Newchurch 10.25/10.45,Gladestry 12.10,then excellent ridge walk along Hergest Ridge with view across to the Malverns,before down to Kington 14.30/15.40 for shop facilities.Excellent route along dyke follows around rolling hills to Herrock Hill,and to Ditchgold Bridge 17.30,then to the Gumma Farm garden campsite at Dolley Green 19.40 for 3.
Sat 14 Aug Showers AM,Storms PM.Dolley Gn-Kingswood 26 miles
Off into the rain at 07.10 as I was expecting a tough day,Knighton shops 09.30/09.40,Selley Cross 11.15,Llanfair Dutch Barn 11.45/12.10,Springhill 13.00,Churchtown 16.30,Kerry Ridgeway 17.20,Brompton Xroads 18.30,Kingswood 20.20,camping in the garden at Heath Cottage 5 including a very welcome pot of tea!A beautiful hill contouring route after Knighton,until hitting the Switchbacks after Springhill,a continuous ascent/descent section to Kerry,taking even longer due to stopping for shelter through three heavy thunderstorms,then having to push it very hard the last three hours to beat darkness,
Sun 15 Aug Misty AM,Sunny PM Kingswood- The Quarry 25 miles
Away at 08.10,the garage here is shut Sundays,so no shops until Four Crosses.Beacon Hill 09.30-interesting old hill fort,Buttington 10.20/10.40,Pool Quay 11.30,Four Crosses 14.45/15.35,Llanymynech 16.30/16.50,Porth Waen 17.50,Moelydd Hill 18.30 with great views for miles,Trefonen 18.50,The Quarry house campsite 20.40 3.Buttington to Llanmynech is dead flat down the Montgomery canal and the river Severn,so fast easy walking.Leaving Llannymynech it was back to hills,and the last four hours I was going as hard as I could again to beat nightfall as it seemed much further than the official distance.Whilst walking through long grass in the morning I became aware of getting wet feet regularly. Closer examination showed my North Face XCR Hedgehog shoes to be delaminating between toe sole and uppers,and I hope they would last out to the end.
Mon 16 Aug Dry Cloudy The Quarry- Gweryd Lodge 24 miles
Away at 07.10,Clwyd Gate 08.40,Castle Mill 09.30,Pontcysyllte aquaduct 11.45/12.10,Panorama Road 13.10,Worlds End Crags 14.45/15.10,Llandegla 18.00,Gweryd Lodge camp site 19.20 6 despite being basic.The aquaduct,another of Telfords achievements,looks impressive for a distance,but it is actually very narrow when you walk across,with 120ft drop over the sides.The high level Panorama route above the Dee Valley and Llangollen gives superb views, and it's actually a minor road,until you continue around the Eglwyseg Crags to Worlds End.
Tues 17 Aug Rain,wind till 3pm. Gweryd Lodge-Prestatyn 27 miles
Off away at 07.00 as a long day to finish.The rain overnight restarted by 08.00 and the whole route over the Clwyd Hills was done in mist and rain.Clwyd Gate 08.30,Bwllch Penbarra 09.45,Jubilee Tower 11.00,Bodfari 14.25,Sodom 15.10/15.30,Rhuallt 16.20/16.40-shop on route,Tynewdd 18.30 and finally Prestatyn beach 20.15.The Clwyd hill section looked very much Pennine in the mist,so must return to see it again with visibility. The final sting in the tail,is that you get sight of the sea 4 miles away, but then do several detours,coming into Prestatyn over a hill with great sea views.With all the continuous rain,the water was pouring into my shoes,and walking with water sloshing around had done some toe skin damage,and I slowed to a crawl the last 3 hours,with old ladies speeding past as I hobbled down to Prestatyn sea front,to complete in 6 days 13 hours.I enquired to camp at the James's at 29 Gronant Road, but they no longer do camping,so after a good meal in the seafront cafe,I walked back inland for half hour in the dark,and camped in the first uninhabited green field I came to.
Next morning I got away early,got breakfast in town,then single train ticket to Wrexham, for a prebooked 10 WSMR train ticket back to London.
This trail has probably the greatest variety of British walking that you could expect,lowland fields,woodlands,picturesque villages and towns,ancient monuments,river valleys,high fell ridges,contouring routes through rolling hills,peat moorlands and canals. As such it is highly suitable for any visitor to the UK,or for UK residents who have never got out much before.The high level paths are well waymarked,and I did'nt need the compass at all.It is well signposted,the only issue being signs covered by undergrowth,as I missed at least four turns due to hidden signs.The Trailblazer book is excellent for detailing facilities,as many campsites used do not have signs up.The maps are adequate,the only problems being in large fields,where boundary fenes for orientation are not shown. I have detailed the mileage as official sources,plus diversions to campsites,although I not convinced these are correct,based on my extended walking times.I actually found a 7 day OD more gruelling than an 8 day C2C or 10 day PW.The first day I found boring, all woodland and cow fields,but the following days were all very good,and give an excellent picture of British country life today,from the traditonal mid-Wales hill farms,to the north and south extremities where most of the old farm communities now have expensive renovated buildings taken over by townies with new 4x4's sitting on the drives.The difference I found to the PW and C2C,is that on Offa's Dyke,there are few fixed standard overnight stopping places,so you do not tend to meet up with others at night stop locations, as everyone is on different plans,due to facilities such as pubs,shops and villages being less concentrated.
Highlights were Hatterill Ridge,Hergest Ridge,Herrock Hill,Pontcysyllte aquaduct,Panorame walk above Llangollen,Moelydd, Bryn Prestatyn hill,and probably the Clywd hills if no mist.If you only have time to do parts of it then do either Pandy-Kerry Ridgeway or Pontcysyllte-Bodfari.
Hope this is of interest.
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Offa's Dyke 7 Day Trip - 09/11/10 03:04 PM

Sorry Alan I somehow missed this excellent report of yours. You seem to be a bit like myself in your liking for this type of high mileage trip. I am hoping to do the route again only North to South sometime not too far in the future. I was wondering about camping opportunities especially wild camping as my itinerary over 6 days makes it awkward, not that I have looked at it in detail as yet.
Its all just a case of which do I do next, oh if only I had more free time.
Posted by: Alan F

Re: Offa's Dyke 7 Day Trip - 11/11/10 09:07 AM

The Trailblazer guide is excellent for identifying all campsites,as most of the farm sites are not actually adevertised as such on the route,although the information is a couple of years out of date,as the useful James' B&B in Prestatyn no longer allows camping.So,Prestayn is a problem location for camping at the start/finish.
Wild camping is more difficult than the PW, as there is less open moorland ground,but you should be able to find suitable locations with some pre-planning.Chepstow to Pandy and Bodfari to Prestatyn may be difficult, as it's mainly solid farmland,but if you are on a 6 day schedule,then you would'nt need to stop in those sections.