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Wat's Dyke Way

Wat's Dyke WayWat's Dyke Way Heritage Trail is an exciting 61 mile walk through the border country between England and North Wales exploring its rich cultural heritage. The route is based on the course of Wat's dyke, a Dark Age earthwork thought to have been constructed for the Saxon rulers of Mercia to protect their boundary with North Wales. It crosses three counties, running from the Shropshire border village of Llanymynech, meandering through the Marches to Wrexham and ending near the Dee estuary at Holywell in Flintshire. The route is varied, following canal towpaths and quiet riverside paths in the south, with wooded valleys and country lanes in the north. It also passes through many historic towns and villages.

It is a predominantly lowland walk but it does include some slightly higher ground as the Dyke itself took advantage of natural land features, so there are often excellent views across into Wales. The terrain is varied from canal towpaths and quiet riversides in the south to small wooded valleys and country lanes in the north. It crosses rolling farmland grazed with sheep and cattle, grand parkland of big estates like Erddig and Wynnstay, and numerous picturesque villages and hamlets such as Llanymynech with its lime-working heritage, canal-side Maesbury Marsh, Caergwrle with its Welsh castle and packhorse bridge, riverside Erbistock, and Ruabon with its brick and tile making links. It also passes through the historic towns of Oswestry, Wrexham and Holywell.

For wildlife lovers there's plenty to see as well. Dragonflies and damselflies hover above the canal and ducks and swans feed in the sluggish waters. Along the faster flowing rivers and streams herons hunt for fish and slender grey wagtails flit above the water catching flying insects. If you are lucky you may see a kingfisher. In springtime the damp woodlands are carpeted with bluebells and pungent wild garlic amongst the luxuriant ferns and mosses. In summer honeysuckle and dog rose tumble over the thick hedgerows and grassy verges are full of wildflowers. In autumn the colours are beautiful with russet leaves and bright berries.

The official guidebook, from which the above text is taken, describes the route in the following nine stages, which makes for a relaxed and leisurely walk if taken over nine days. Of course the time can be reduced by linking two stages in one day, but the route has plenty of interest to justify nine days if you can spare the time. We suggest an alternative six day itinery, also given below.

Nine Day Itinery
Llanymynech to Oswestry - 12.5km
Oswestry to Nefod - 8km
Nefod to Overton Bridge - 14.2km
Overton Bridge to Ruabon - 8.5km
Ruabon to Wrexham - 7.8km
Wrexham to Caergwrle - 10.5km
Caergwrle to New Brighton - 13.2km
New Brighton to Rhosesmor - 9.5km
Rhosesmor to Holywell - 14.5km

Six Day Itinery
Llanymynech to Nefod - 20.5km
Nefod to Overton Bridge - 14.2km
Overton Bridge to Wrexham - 16.3km
Wrexham to Caergwrle - 10.5km
Caergwrle to Rhosesmor - 22.7km
Rhosesmor to Holywell - 14.5km

 

 

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Start: Llanymynech

Grid Ref: SJ 267211

End: Holywell

Grid Ref: SJ 194775

Distance: 98 km

Walking Time: 6 days

Counties Traversed
Shropshire
Wrexham
Flintshire

Explorer™ Maps
240; 256; 266; 265

Wat's Dyke Way

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