Offa’s Dyke is an earthwork constructed in the 8th century, possibly as a boundary, possibly as a defensive barrier, but whatever the reason for its creation, it has been attributed to the Mercian King Offa.
The National Trail of the same name roughly follows the course of the Dyke and runs for 180 miles from Chepstow in the south of Wales to Prestatyn in the North. Many sections of the walk are a long way from the Dyke, some of the path is actually on the Dyke and in some sections the Dyke has disappeared completely.
Most National Trails or other long distance paths have a commonly accepted “right way” of walking them. The C2C is almost exclusively walked from West to East (mainly because that’s the way Wainwright described it), the Pennine Way is normally walked South to North and so on. Offa’s Dyke however seems to be discussed just as often North to South as it does South to North and the guidebooks are the same. You can therefore select your direction based on the guidebook you have chosen or vice versa. I had decided to walk South to North, so needed a guidebook that would cover this direction.
My preferred book would have been the Trailblazer guide (written by Keith Carter), as these are beautifully written guides (I now own about 6 different ones) with clear maps and loads of useful information on accommodation and local services. Unfortunately their edition is a North to South guide.
In the end I chose the National Trails Guide by Ernie & Kathy Kay, and Mark Richards. You have to buy two of these, one for the northern section and one for the southern, which seems a bit of a rip off. I wasn’t that impressed with them as guidebooks either and I decided not to carry them with me for the walk – relying on my maps and GPS instead.