Covid has made a lot of us re-evaluate what we do in life and for me, I wanted to start doing all the things I said I wanted to do, but never got round to it. Exploring the world has always been such a passion of mine, and in a way, Covid has made me explore much more of the UK than I ever thought I would. Along with my trusted fluffy sidekick, Winston and some awesome like minded friends, the adventures began……
With this, our Offas Dyke trek started to become more of a reality. Covid restrictions made finding somewhere to stay quite difficult but we found a little place in Lydney, our routes mapped out and all of a sudden it was happening!
For those of you who have no idea what the Offas Dyke is or what on Earth I’m harping on about…..it’s a path that runs the England/Wales border and is 177 miles (285km long). Keen hikers can walk it in about 12 days but we decided we weren’t that crazy and wanted to enjoy the walks, routes and see the little villages that we pass.
Day 1 -Sedbury to Cadora Woods
Our first stint would be Sedbury (Chepstow) to Monmouth at 17.5 miles. We decided to split this over 2 days with a longer walk on day 1 of 12 miles and what ended up being 7 miles on day 2. We parked the second car up in Cadora Woods, which was a free car park as this would be our finish point for the day and then parked the other car in Chepstow Castle (reasonably priced about £6 all day) as believe me, we searched everywhere for a decent place to park near Sedbury but it doesn’t exist. So your options are to walk from the castle to the start (will take an additional 40 minutes), get a bus that only runs every 2 hours or like us, find a very nice friend to drop you off at the starting point.
The very first footpath takes you down to the official start of the Offas Dyke path. The story told is that you collect a stone (we couldn’t get to the actual beach but we found some stones near the official start rock to take with us!) and that stone stays with you until you finish in Prestatyn, where you throw the stone back into the sea, marking the end of your journey.
The route was relatively simple to follow with only a few sections we needed to consult the OS map (highly recommend downloading the app for your phone!). The scenery was just beautiful along the way! We went in May and the bluebells and wild garlic that lined the forest was gorgeous. So much so, I’ve basically renamed this route, ‘the bluebell and garlic route’
The weather changed constantly. From bright sunshine which I wasn’t dressed for, leading me to walk in just my sports bra (only had a base layer on and no tshirt!), to tennis sized hail stones. A stark reminder that we were hiking in the UK! So ensure you have multiple layers and a waterproof cover for your bag!
We were fortunate enough to be (relatively) dressed for the weather and I highly recommend Revolution Race gear for hiking. Keep an eye on our Instagram page for discounts for limited times only! [affiliate link]
As we got to the end of day 1, the hail bounced in. We were soaking and thankfully still able to laugh! We were so grateful when we saw the car and after 12 miles and 7 hours of walking, glad to sit down!
We drove back down to Chepstow Castle (only £1 parking after 6pm!) where we found a little restaurant to eat (that was happy to accept quite frankly, very dirty, wet and smelly walkers and a dog!) I was even barefoot by now because my feet were so wet from the rain, they could have easily passed for some weird sea creature! We continued to inhale our body weights in carbs and of course a celebratory glass of Prosecco.
We were totally ready for sleep after a long day and drove back to the air bnb, sorted out all our wet clothes and repacked ready for day 2!
Day 2 – Cadora Woods to Monmouth
We had purposely made day 1 much longer than day 2. This was because we had to drive home at the end of day 2 and also we knew we would be achy! This section worked out to be about 7 miles and took around 4 hours.
We started where we finished at Cadora Woods and it took a good 10 minutes to get our bodies back into a stride. Again, the amount of bluebells and wild garlic was just amazing!
This walk seemed quite tough, the terrain was muddy and uneven and the weather was just as uncertain as the day before! But the views were well worth it!
We stopped in Redbrook to buy our Offas Dyke Passport. We didn’t know about these until we came across another walker who told us all about them. It’s a little booklet that you get stamped in various locations up the path! We managed to get the first one stamped in Chepstow on a piece of paper, so we’ve got some cutting and glueing to do! But now we can get it officially stamped during our walk!
From this point, you actually cross the border into Wales but without knowing it! We would have thought there would be at least a sign but nothing! We talked about how crazy the different rules that Wales and England had during the covid lockdowns would have effected these areas.
From here, the elevation began to increase quite steadily through roads, farms and then a final woods before we descended. We came across a group of piglets (although bigger than Winston!) who were incredibly curious! Tried to eat my lead, a walking pole and then chased us down the path (they were actually chasing the lead but it felt like they were chasing us!)
We finally arrived at Monmouth and the longest part of this section was getting back to the car. Although we were still walking the Offas Dyke path, it felt like the longest. Our feet hurt, we were hungry (thankfully a high street Greggs sorted that out!) and we eventually made it back to car! We’d bought a change of clothes with us as we would now be driving back home. There were toilets on site which made getting changed much easier, ate our Greggs and did our stretches!
We then drove back to Cadora Woods, seeing all the forest that we had walked through, to collect the other car before we did our final goodbye to South Wales!
The path is very well signposted but there are odd little sections where it could be easily confused and also, the paths do separate at times. I would highly recommend downloading the OS Map app as not only does it give you your location (in case something does go wrong!) it also tells you your elevation and how long of the walk you have left. This was definitely used as a pick me up during the walks!
We have the next 2 sections booked in and already massively looking forward to it! In the meantime, let us know what you think of our trip, any questions and do follow us on our socials for all our latest adventures!
Caroline & Winston