Offa’s Dyke Path – the Deets

Just 25 sleeps until I depart for Wales and kick off my next adventure, the Offa’s Dyke Path. So excited! Thought it would be a good time to share a few details about the Path and my hike.

What is this Offa’s Dyke Path?

  • 177 mile / 285 kilometer national walking trail in mostly Wales – considered strenuous and undulates (my favourite hiking word) continuously.
  • The path runs the length of the English and Welsh border, crossing over the border many times (I walked the English and Scottish border – Hadrian’s Wall – in 2008. Once I complete this path I will have walked the entire land border of England! Cool)
  • Lonely Planet ranks this Path as one of the world’s greatest walks. (I will decide that for myself but it does bode well for my adventure)
  • The Offa Dyke is the longest and most ancient monument in Britain.
  • The Saxon Monarch, aka King Offa, is due credit for building the Dyke as a natural border rampart between Wales and England.
  • The Offa’s Dyke Path runs beside or on top of the rampart and was declared an official Path in 1971.
  • There are many intact or ruins of castles and abbeys along the route.
  • Offa’s Dyke Association advises the Path passes through one Natioanl Park, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at least two Environmentally Sensitive Areas.

What is my hiking plan for this Path?

  • Walking North (Prestatyn on the coast, literally on the beach) to South (Chepstow) – this way I am closer to the start of Cotswold Way the hike in England I am doing a couple days after I finish this one.
  • Average walking distance a day is 19km – longest day is 26.5km and shortest is 13km. Hoping that shortest day gives me opportunity to laundry of my stinky, sweaty hiking gear – that will depend on what town I staying in that night of course.
  • A few sections are giving me some chest pain and I have not even started … specifically wide open, thin trails on the side of steep scree (aka hill of broken rock and gravel). The fear of heights is strong in this one but I am sure if I could to Pembrokeshire Coastal Path on the edge of 70 foot cliffs in gale force winds for 16days I can do some short scary bursts on this Path. Insert hopeful face here.
  • Except for a few nights, I walk from accommodation to the next accommodation and most are just a few km off the actual Path. This adds to the length of my walk each day but it’s pretty exciting to just walk ‘home’. On the days I don’t walk ‘home’ I just call the place I am staying for transport – hopefully from a pub 😉
  • The Path can be tackled in 5 days if running (an annual running competition proves this) but walking it is usually tackled in 12 – 14 or more days. I am going for 14 days short enough to keep some pep in my step but long enough that I am not racing to the finish line each day to arrive before the pub stops serving food. A long hoof followed by only a cold granola bar and an apple at night is a sad end to a day, lived experience!
  • I am doing the Path on my own … sorta! Eeek this is the really exciting part. After Offa’s Dyke Path, I am meeting my long distance hiking crew Shar (sister) and Cheryl and Rosa (our besties) in England to walk the Cotswold Way – more on that later. Cheryl, trail name Impossible Turtle, is so excited to get her boots on a path, and see castles, she is joining me early and is going to do the last 6 days of Offa’s Dyke Path with me! Doctor Boots (me) and Impossible Turtle getting it done.
  • This amazing company called Anglessey and Wales Walking Holidays have done ALL the work for this one y’all! They have booked all of my accommodations (including making a big change when we added Cheryl – yahoo!) and arranged my transports and luggage service and everything. Wow!

My plan is to do a short good morning video on the Running for the Gate Instagram account from the Path each morning before I start out, and then wrap the day up with a blog post and some photos at night. So loads of details coming your way about this amazing Path! Stay tuned.


My Planning Process

I love a good adventure. All the sights and sounds and feels and food, and and, and. Funny enough though, I love the planning for a new adventure almost as much the adventure itself. No joke. I immerse myself in the place I am going before I even leave my front door.

Here is a sneak peak into my process…

Absorb Your Destination with Social Media

Search up and follow some tags related to where you are going – then through those tags you will find some locals who love and live where you are heading and share all kinds of amazing tips and tricks you might not find in travel books. Follow those peeps and see what hashtags they follow, and yes, follow those too.

You don’t have to go cray-cray with too many accounts or tags, just enough to keep the excitement going.

I find the random reminder in my social media feed of where I am going a great way to stay on track to any pre-trip commitments I have made for the adventure. Saving money, training for a long walk, or booking the flight, finding a dog sitter, or not taking work too seriously before you go kinda thing. 😉

Start a little travel journal a few months before you go and jot down some of the best stuff you see on social media and want to check out on your adventure. Or save a new collection or board on your socials to squirrel away what you found and refer back to on your trip.

Research Your Destination with Books

If it’s a place on this globe (city or trail or mountain or ocean) someone wrote a book about it. Read it! I like to choose a few that are history, a few that are someone telling their story about visiting that place, a travel guide or two, and even a few non-fiction books that are set in my destination.

So amazing reading so many different views on a place and then comparing them with my own experience as I discover it all it for myself! And, like the social media approach, your can find some great tips on what to see.

I prefer hard copy books – cause well my stepmom is and my grandmother was a librarian and the love of that book smell and feel is in now deep in my soul. Also, I have a bookshelf for all my travel research and love seeing the groups of books for each place I have ventured.

Make notes as you read in that travel journal you started or search up what you find and save photos and tips electronically.

Pro Tip: I listen to audio books about the trail I am hiking …while I am out hiking to train for it!

Plan Your Route

My big adventures are generally long distance walks – think 100 to 700km – and that takes a lot of route planning. And I love, love, love route planning. Like, LOVE!

If you are into long distance walking (even a few days walking, you don’t have to do a whole month like this gal) there are few things to think about when route planning .

The below are the steps I use to plan my exact route after I have chosen a trail to walk – and specifically on this where I walk to a place, stay the night, walk to the next place, stay the night, and repeat till complete. How I actually pick the trail to walk …in another post!

Ok so your trail is chosen, now here we go:

  1. Determine roughly your ‘happy kilometers’ in a day – where you arrive at your day’s destination happy and a little tired but NOT sore and exhausted. Smiles not grimaces.
  2. Once you know your ‘happy kilometers’, starting from the start of the trail roughly map out the city, town, village on the path within 10% of your happy distance. Pro Tip: If you are going to walk a long way, about every 4-6 days pick a shorter kilometer day that ends in a bigger town so you can do laundry! Clean undies are a hikers paradise.
  3. Now that you have your daily destination – you now know how many days you will be walking and can get vacation time booked off work and book a flight! Go ahead and do that now – I will wait right here.
  4. Ok now book your accommodations. Start with an overnight at the place you will start out for the night BEFORE you start walking. Then, in the order you will walk to them, book the next day and the next day and the day after that, etc.. Do not jump about on days just in case you cannot find a place in one of the towns and you have to adjust distances! .l
  5. Once you have your accommodations booked, now you can book a luggage transport service – if you want. A luggage transport company will take your suitcase or large pack to your next accommodation so all you have to carry while you walk is water, snacks, rain gear, etc – what you need for the actual walking. If you walk in rainy areas, luggage transport is a good way to ensure your pajamas and next day’s gear are dry! I walked the 16day Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Ways in 2008 and 14/16 days were torrential and I carried everything… wet Jammies are no way to end a day!
  6. Now that you know where you are walking to each day and where you will sleep – it’s time to sort out water. My happy kilometers are 20-26 per day and I carry 3 liters in a bladder so I don’t have to worry about running out. Pro tip: when training for your hike, monitor and document the amount of water you drink and aim to carry that much plus 25% AND a water treatment straw / filter in case you run out. If you prefer to carry less, calculate your water intake per kilometer and research if water is available on the path at those intervals. If you go with this approach, anytime you find water – filter and fill your container! Water sources dry up, better safe than thirsty.
  7. Work our food! You also need to eat and may have to carry snacks or meals with you depending on what amenities are available. Research the route and see if there is a place for breakfast before or shortly after you start out and lunch at mid-point-ish each day and dinner. If yes, carry snacks only on those days. If no, carry meals for the day too. Research each day for amenities on route or near where you are staying. Also determine if supper is available where you are staying. or close, and Pro tip: book an accommodation that includes breakfast and it is one less worry in a day plus good coffee!
  8. If long distance walking, it’s also good to have an idea of where the pharmacies are along the way – blister bandaids, Tylenol, antihistamines and more can crop up as a need along the way.

Document all these details! Consider a journal or spreadsheet (excel or hand written) that shows the path broken down by happy kilometers and the play you will walk to and from each day, the accommodation and contact info, notes re water and food requirements, significant trail notes, etc!

This is a great way to prep for the next day, each day and a godsend to leave with loved ones who may be worried about you when you are off and about. Also a great keepsake!

45 days to my next walk .. 285 kilometers aka the Offa’s Dyke Path in Wales in June, off to do the above for this adventure!