Offa's Dyke path is a 177-mile coast to coast trek from the Severn Estuary to the Irish sea.
Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796 AD and his kingdom covered the area from the Welsh border in the West to the Fens in the East and between the Trent/Mersey rivers in the North to the Thames Valley in the South. At the height of his power, however, he also controlled many other areas through the marriage of two of his daughters to those areas Kings. He was, therefore, effectively one of the first Kings of England. He was an influential international leader, having diplomatic and trading links with Charlemagne and the Papacy.
In about 785 AD, King Offa ordered the construction of Offa’s Dyke, a defensive earthen barrier, to be built between England and Wales as a monument to his greatness and a discouragement to the hostile Welsh Celtic tribes threatening his kingdom from the west. It consisted of a ditch (on the Welsh-facing side) and rampart. As originally constructed, it must have been about 90 feet wide and 25 feet high from the ditch bottom to the bank top. While Offa’s Dyke took several years to build, the 9th Century history of the region suggests that it had only a short period of importance before being abandoned.
In the 12th century, Offa's Dyke became the warring border between Welsh nobles and Norman conquerors, who built a string of defensive castles along its length. Much of the Dyke is still traceable along the 80 miles from the Wye valley to Wrexham. In some places it still retains most of its original impressive dimensions, while in other parts it has disappeared from over a thousand years of farming activity.
Offa’s Dyke Path,
which opened in 1971 as one of Britain’s longest national trails, is a 177-mile coast-to-coast trek along Offa’s Dyke, the UKs largest ancient monument, from the Severn Estuary at Sedbury near Chepstow to the Irish Sea in Prestatyn. The route passes through 8 counties and crosses the England / Wales border over 20 times.
Along the way are a succession of historic border towns and attractive villages. The walled towns, castles, and fortified remains are not only visually stunning but also of great historical interest. A few of the archaeological highlights include Chepstow Castle, the first stone fortress built in Wales; Tintern Abbey on the banks of the River Wye, one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales; and the spectacular Powis Castle at Welshpool.