Two girls stood next to the finger post which marks the start of the Offa's Dyke Path walking north to south in Prestatyn

Many years ago the notion crossed my mind that I would quite like to walk the length of the long distance Offa’s Dyke Path, I bought a guide book and that was that. Then I had kids and thought “Oooh, I could walk the Offa’s Dyke Path with kids” and did nothing about it. Then a pandemic came along, I spent a lot of time with my girls and we did a lot of walking, gradually building up our distances until we achieved a 10 mile trek. The Offa’s Dyke thoughts returned and the decision was made, we were going to walk the Offa’s Dyke path, all 177 miles of it just my (then) 7 and 10 year olds and I! OK let’s just qualify that, yes we are going to walk all of it but I’m not crazy (honestly), we are going to do it in small manageable chunks – little legs for little legs is the way that I describe it.

We live near the northern end of the path, which runs the length of Wales from Prestatyn in the north to Chepstow in the south, so our plan was to walk it from north to south. We could do about two thirds of the trail as day hikes with our support team (my parents) dropping us off and picking us up. Initially I would try and make things easier by carrying everything apart from the girls water, they had little backpacks with hydration systems in which meant they could regulate that themselves, I did learn that this can lead to an excessive amount of stops for “wild wees” in the first part of the walk though! I set up my Strava app (a fitness tracking app) so that I could send a link to other people who could then track our progress partly to assist the support team to work out what time to pick us up at the end of a day and partly as a safety measure.  

On 2nd June 2021 at 10.35am we did it, we made our start.

Our first leg was from the start (finish if you go south to north) in Prestatyn to Rhuallt, about 7 miles. The first mile or so is a knee knackerer, along hot tarmac pavements, and then you have a steep climb out of the town and up on to the ridge. It is well worth if for the amazing views though. This picture shows the climb and the view back down to Prestatyn and the Irish Sea. We were lucky with a gorgeous sunny day, the path was lined with wild flowers and our leisurely walk was  accompanied by busy butterflies, bees and ladybirds.

Child climbing steep slope with a view of a coastal town, Prestatyn, and the Irish Sea in the background
Child walking up slope with view of the Irish Sea in the distant background

The path is well marked with its acorn markers. To start with there was the novelty between the girls of being the first to reach the next marker and this brought our first tumble and scraped knee of the walk, thankfully injuries have been few and far between since then.

The novelty of the feeling of starting a new adventure never really wore off that day, the weather was stunning, the scenery was utterly stunning, we were at the start of something exciting and it felt good.

As we got closer to Rhuallt the view of the sea disappeared for us but, excitingly, we met people doing the route from south to north, doing it in one go (without children!), who got their first heady glimpse knowing they’d nearly done it.

There was a final descent to do to reach Rhuallt and coming towards us was our support team, little legs were getting tired but they were still cheerful and the presence of their Nain and Taid for that last mile was very welcome.

The leg was officially concluded at this finger post in Rhuallt and we resolved that every leg would have a similar bookend.

I’d done it, after many years of procrastination I’d made a start of Offa’s Dyke and with my girls too.

 

Two tired girls stood next to an Offa's Dyke fingerpost in the village of Rhuallt, North Wales
Screenshot of Strava page showing 7.99 miles walked, Elevation Gain of 1501 feet and walking time of 3hours

Strava tells me we walked 7.99 miles (12.86km) with a moving time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. It also tells me our total elapsed time was nearly 5 hours, it looks like we spent a lot of time standing still! Many lessons were learnt that day, not least that our pace is quite leisurely, but also that this challenge is achievable.

If you’d like to learn more about Offa’s Dyke Path you can visit The Offa’s Dyke Association here.