March 3rd, 2019
When the days are long and balmy and the sunlight scatters across the hills and valleys of our beautiful region, turning dreary winter vistas into stunning summer landscapes, it’s the perfect time to be inspired to get out into the countryside and exploring everything the area has to offer.
And while there are literally thousands of fabulous short circular walks to choose from, sometimes a few hours or an afternoon out in the sunshine and fresh air just isn’t enough. If you’ve ever fancied embarking on a walk longer than just a mile or two, then the dawn of Spring is the perfect opportunity. And it’s exactly this time of year when some of the region’s brilliant Long Distance Footpaths and Walks come into their own.
You’ll find Long Distance Footpaths criss-crossing all over Wales, indeed, all across the UK. Typically a trail is classified as “Long Distance” if it runs for over 30 miles and is mostly off-road, and most routes have a theme or common interest, such as following the course of a river or being based on the landmarks of a historical figure or route. The majority of Long Distance Footpaths are in rural areas and countryside but some interweave through towns and cities along the way. And varying from 30 miles to over 600 miles, there really is a challenge to suit everyone.
Over to Offa
One of the country’s most well-known Long Distance Footpaths is of course the Offa’s Dyke Path. This famous route along the border of England and Wales follows the route of the remains of Offa’s Dyke, an 8th century “wall” or boundary that was built by Offa, the ruler of the ancient kingdom of Mercia. It is thought to have been built as a defensive structure, although many ideas about the origins, purpose and exact distance of the structure are simply theories.
The Offa’s Dyke Path opened officially in 1971 and at 176 miles takes the walker through a huge variety of terrains. Although it doesn’t follow the dyke for exactly the whole distance (Offa’s Dyke is badly worn away or non-existent in some places), there is still plenty to see and visit along the way. From the wild moorlands of the Clwydian Range in north east Wales to the pretty valleys of Herefordshire and ancient forests of Shropshire. The path also steers its way past many important historic sites, like the castles at Rhuddlan, Denbigh, Montgomery and Skenfrith, the abbeys at Valle Crucis, Llanthony and Tintern and the famous UNESCO listed aqueduct at Pontcysyllte. There are also numerous museums, visitor centres, villages and towns so there’s never any shortage of things to see, and no danger of a day of tedious plodding without interest.
Most Offa’s Dyke walkers take about two weeks to walk the entire length, but you can take it as slow or fast as you like, or even complete it in a series of day treks.
For more information see www.offasdyke.org.uk