Roger Butler heads into the heart of the Welsh Borders to follow the footsteps of King Offa and Owain Glyndŵr.
Bang on the border, Offa’s Dyke Path follows the line of the ancient earthwork which still prompts debate amongst historians: was it a long defensive barrier or a clever attempt to control trade? Nowadays, it’s an undulating snake which wriggles and rises through some of the finest scenery in the glorious Welsh Marches. This circular route initially follows an obvious length, across breezy slopes where King Offa’s men would once have kept a wary eye, before leaving the trail to reach the bracken-splattered plateau of Llan-fawr.
An excellent panorama from the top looks west towards Mid Wales, east to another length of dyke up on Hawthorn Hill and north to Graig Hill, where legendary Welsh leader Owain Glyndŵr outwitted the English in 1402. Bloodthirsty battle cries would have echoed across these hills though, today, you’re most likely to hear nothing more than the calls of curlews and kites.
Llan-fawr via Offa’s Dyke: route description
Start/Finish: Evenjobb; grid ref SO263623 | Map: OS Explorer 201 (1:25k), OS Landranger 148 (1:50k) | Distance: 13.7km / 8½ miles | Ascent: 545m / 1790 feet | Duration: 5 hours
1. SO263623: Walk east from Evenjobb, steeply uphill on a narrow lane, and take steps on L after 650m to join Offa’s Dyke Path.
2. SO270623: Turn L and then R at fingerpost to follow narrow path through Granner Wood, with views west to Whimble and Black Mixen at the end of the trees. Go through gate, turn L at track and turn R after 200m up steep steps to large field. Follow the line of the dyke along the field edge to a gate, pass through Hilltop Plantation and continue through another gate leading into pasture. Walk down to the next gate, again with the dyke on R.
3. SO269638: Cross lane and continue alongside the dyke, downhill via some small gates, for 1km. Go L at farm gate and walk downhill on track, with the earthworks of the dyke now on R. Fork R after 250m to gate in corner of field. Cross another lane and follow right of way across field, with hedge on R. Turn L to stile, just before the River Lugg, and use waymarks through fields to next gate, hidden in hedge.
4. SO268660: Turn R on lane for 300m, turn L on track to Lower Litton Farm. Pass through gates and join track up to another gate at start of Open Access. Keep ahead, west over Litton Hill, and choose one of the grass paths heading to the trig pillar on top of Llan-Fawr.
5. SO252664: Descend south, over steeper ground, to a track; turn R past house at foot of Courthouse Wood and continue to lane. Turn L and go R after 200m to pass through farm at Dyffryn. Gate leads to track up wooded ravine.
6. SO248652: Turn L at top and follow track for 1km. Go straight over at junction with next track (named Ackwood Lane) and continue down through field to Hoddell Farm and track to B4372.
7. SO254640: Turn R for 450m and go L, by house, onto deep holloway track named Rhôs Lane. Continue to B4357, turn R and cross stile on L, before church. Cross field to gate in far corner to return to Evenjobb.
Public transport: Nearest stations Crossgates or Knighton on the Heart of Wales line – see www.sargeantsbros.com for limited bus connections
Tourist Information: Kington TIC, 01544 230778
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