off and on Offa - practicalities

boot in muddy field We walked the southern part of Offa's Dyke Path in July 2012, just after a seriously rainy period. It's a lovely path and we recommend it, but it's the muddiest one we've ever walked. The guide books mention mud too, and we suspect that even after dry spells, when the fields have dried out, there will still be mud on the many shady sections. We should have had leather high-sided boots, and maybe gaiters.

This is a recognised trail, and there are plenty of websites with helpful information, such as the
Offa's Dyke Association. This has lots of information about accommodation, luggage transfer etc.

1. Walking days
This version takes five days including travel from London, then walking from Sedbury Cliffs to Hay-on-Wye: about 51 miles.

2. Getting there and away
Getting there: train from London Paddington to Chepstow via Newport Gwent (just over 3 hours). There is also a National Express Bus.
Getting away: Stagecoach Bus (No 39, 16:45 from Hay Castle - they are not very frequent) from Hay to Hereford (1 hour); then train from Hereford to London Paddington via Newport Gwent (3.5 hours).

3. Books & Maps
We used Offa's Dyke Path South in the National Trail Guide series (Aurum Press), with good maps and description. There's also the map in the Harvey's series (XT40), though we missed information on the surrounding country in this.

4. The route: Prices quoted are of July 2012, for a double room.
The signage is generally good: a black acorn logo, some yellow arrows, and wooden signposts. However, it's not 100%, and occasionally we had to guess. We left the Path three times: firstly to get to Tintern: the way back across the fields up to the Wye Valley Path was overgrown and very muddy, hence our recommendation below to keep by the river. Secondly, to get to Llanthony: this return up the hillside is easy to find. And finally, a short diversion to Hay Bluff.

Day 1:Train to Chepstow.
We walked down to the start at Sedbury Cliff, adding two miles to the day. There's a good view of the Severn Bridge there but it's not a stunning bit; whether you do it depends on how purist you are and how much time you've got. Then up to Tintern, leaving the Path at an obvious sign: 6 miles. A little over 4 hours.
B&B at The Old Rectory, Tintern, with the best breakfast we've had. (£75; Tel 01291 689920).
Day 2: Tintern to Monmouth: 10.2 miles. Walk along the north bank of the Wye to rejoin the Path at Brockweir. Morning 3 hours; afternoon roughly 3.5 hours.
B&B at The Coach House, St John St, Monmouth (£60; Tel 01600 775517). The landlords of the Inns were all different, and all very sympatico.
Day 3: Monmouth to Llangattock Lingoed: 12.4 miles. Morning about 4 hours; afternoon 2.25 hours.
B&B at The Hunters Moon Inn, Llangattock (£79; Tel 01873 821499).
Day 4: Llangattock Lingoed to Llanthony: 9.6 miles. Morning a little over 1 hour (to Pandy); afternoon 3 hours, leaving the Path at a stone sign.
B&B at The Half Moon Hotel, Llanthony (£55; Tel 01873 890611).
Day 5: Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye: 11.4 miles. Morning, climbing back from the Abbey at an obvious sign, 3 hrs to Hay Bluff; afternoon about 2 hours. We again left the Path (as most people do unless the weather is awful) at Hay Bluff to go to the Trig Point; the way down to rejoin it is obvious.