Meadows and Mountains – Offa’s Dyke Path from Kington to Hay-on-Wye

The meandering 177 mile route taken by the Offa’s Dyke Path, weaving quietly along the border country of Wales and England, has long fascinated us – and truly offers (haha – we couldn’t resist that, sorry!) something for everyone. It is named after, and often follows, the ancient earthwork that King Offa ordered to be built in the 8th century. You can find out more here.

The landscape is always spectacular, from riverside meadows to the peaceful rolling hills of Powys and Shropshire and the dramatic heather-clad moorlands of the Black Mountains.  People often wax lyrical (with good reason) about the high level ridge route from Pandy over Hay Bluff, which – after miles of unrivalled views far into England and Wales – drops steeply down towards the ancient, bookish border town of Hay-on-Wye.  But in our hearts, nothing beats the sheer variety of the charming trek southwards from Kington towards Hay. 

David last completed this walk just before the lockdown was imposed in March – a short lifetime ago!

“From Kington, I had to wait only a few minutes for the first treat – the ancient grassy bridleway over bracken-laden Hergest Ridge, with its wide open vistas, an unlikely copse of monkey puzzle trees dropped bold, mysterious and fully formed into the wilderness, and delightful heath and moorland birds (wheatears, larks) and red kites soaring high on the warm air.  When I walked this route with an old friend, we reminisced about the very-1970s Mike Oldfield album of the same name, which he wrote at his house The Beacon nearby (to be honest I preferred ABBA, but perhaps unsurprisingly none of their albums is named after a stunning Shropshire ridge!).

Meadow flowers on Offa's Dyke - near Radnor House
Meadow flowers south of Gladestry

“Descending then to the lovely farming community of Gladestry in Radnorshire, before striking out towards Disgwylfa Hill (a very fine picnic spot).  I strolled through secluded Newchurch, relishing the miles stretching out ahead and behind.  On and on (it’s not a short day), eventually reaching the shimmering woodland haven of Bettws Dingle – the mixture of Welsh and English names hinting at ancient border conflicts and sagas forgotten and remembered.

The River Wye near Radnor House and Hay-on-Wye
River Wye at dusk – the long day closes

“Finally, the descent on weary limbs to the Wye Valley, thanking my stars that the looming Hay Bluff massif is for another day.  A gently undulating wooded river walk, lined with ferns and wood anemones, guides you into your resting place in Hay.  The town felt like a surprise gift, hidden from view until the very last moment. Then again, the whole day felt like that.”

We feel very lucky to live here – David is often to be seen roaming the hills and dales, and we are both still discovering the local wilderness as the seasons pass slowly by. The most recent treasure we have come across is Rook Wood near Llanigon – carpeted with bluebells, only a few short fields away from the town. Gorgeous!!  We want you to be able to share these riches on our doorstep – you can read more about other walks accessible from Radnor House here.

Rook Wood near Hay-on-Wye and Radnor House
Bluebells in Rook Wood

Why Radnor House is the perfect base for exploring the remote Welsh border country:

  • We’re just one minute’s walk from Offa’s Dyke footpath – with two of the most stunning stages immediately north and south of Hay (to Kington and Pandy).
  • There are many other beautiful, undiscovered walks from the door or within easy reach – from the Four Waterfalls Walk to the Black Hill, from the Wye Valley Walk to the Begwyns.
  • Guide books and maps to borrow, and expert advice from David.
  • Large, comfortable en suite rooms, with everything you might need – shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, sanitiser etc.
  • Homemade cakes await you in your room.
  • Pre-order a delicious supper board to eat in your room after a day’s walking.
  • Packed lunches provided on request, water bottles refilled.
  • We can wash and dry clothes on request.
  • The charming and welcoming cultural oasis of Hay-on-Wye: quirky bookshops, tasteful galleries, thriving food and craft markets, independent cinema, live music…..well worth a 2-3 night stopover if you are “doing” Offa’s Dyke.
  • Excellent choice of restaurants, pubs and cafes.
  • You can book the whole house for a group adventure!

NOTE – From 24 March 2020, to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, the Welsh Government has closed many public footpaths and access land in Wales – including some sections of National Trails in Wales.  Please check local authority and National Park websites for details of closures.