Offa’s Dyke National Trail
Have you heard of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail? This 177 mile footpath follows the English/Welsh border, and is supposedly named after the spectacular trench (dyke) that King Offa ordered to be constructed in the 8th century to protect his kingdom from the invading hordes!
Nowadays, the Offa’s Dyke path offers the opportunity to explore a diverse region of South Wales, passing through eight different counties and crossing the border between England and Wales over 20 times. Starting at Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary, the trail passes into the Brecon Beacons National Park, linking three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the Wye Valley, the Shropshire Hills and the Dee Valley.
We didn’t have time to walk the whole trail on our recent glamping weekend – that would take at least a week! – but after plotting a circular route on OS Maps, James and I managed to trek part of the southernmost section covering a total of around 12 miles.
We started in Woodcroft, just outside Chepstow, and followed the trail for 5 miles up to Brockweir where we found a handy pub for lunch and a fish finger sandwich! The route was well-signposted and mainly through woodland, with some hillier sections that gave great views.
The second half of our route deviated from the Offa’s Dyke National Trail to follow some less well signed paths cross-country, until we were able to retrace our steps along the National Trail for the final few kilometres.
Check out a video of our trek here to get an idea of the landscape:
Maybee Glamping – Little Idyll
Our glamping weekend was based at the fabulous Maybee Glamping just outside Chepstow which we booked through the Canopy & Stars website. The cosy shepherds hut we stayed in was called Little Idyll, and it was definitely that, situated at the top of a hill with spectacular views across the Monmouthshire countryside. The lovely owner Sharon greeted us on arrival and made us feel very welcome, providing a little cart to drag our bags up the hill to the hut and a basket of milk, biscuits and other lovely goodies. Little Idyll is set in its own paddock area on her six acre farm, and in the mornings we were awoken to see (and hear) alpacas and an inquisitive pony called Mary grazing in the surrounding fields, with donkeys and pigs further down the hill.
We enjoyed cups of tea sitting on the decking area out the front of the hut by the firepit (blankets provided), listening to the crackling flames and admiring the views! Inside, there was a woodburner to continue the cosy feel, with the hut being one of the smartest and most well-equipped we have stayed in – every comfort had been considered. A double bed occupied one whole end of the hut, with a modern kitchen in the middle, and an en-suite compost loo and shower at the other, meaning you don’t need to leave the hut in the night!
It may have been a short trip, but we left Monmouthshire feeling relaxed and definitely keen to return and explore more of the area! I’d love to try and tick off a few more National Trails too, even if we only manage a few miles of each – it’s fun to follow the little acorn on the signs and wonder what’s around the next corner.
Have you been to Monmouthshire? Which National Trail should we hike next?