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Lying on the hotly disputed boundary between England and Wales, Knighton has bounced back and forth across the border since its birth, eventually settling down to became a centre for trade and agriculture. It’s still an important part of Powys’s rural community, though many visitors are now drawn here by the famous Offa’s Dyke Path national walking trail. But hikes into the hills are just part of Knighton’s appeal – you’ll find plenty to see and do whether or not you bring your walking boots.

The first thing you’ll notice on your way into Knighton is its location – a picturesque setting tucked in amongst green, wooded hills bang on the border between England and Wales. It’s an instantly positive impression that carries on as you make your way into town. Twisting medieval streets snake out from the striking 19th-century clocktower, packed with historic buildings stretching back through the centuries. A stroll here is one of the easiest ways to travel through time.


While the town wears its history very visibly, it bursts with life in the here and now. There’s a weekly livestock market, where farmers from the surrounding area come to buy and sell their stock and catch up on the local gossip. If sheep and cows aren’t your thing, there’s also a bustling high street where funky galleries, cafés and delis sit snugly alongside more traditional market town offerings like butchers, hardware stores and half-timbered country pubs.


On your Dyke

Much of Knighton’s fame comes from its position on Offa’s Dyke – its Welsh name Tref-y-Clawdd literally translates as ‘The Town on the Dyke’. This 8th-century earthwork of ditches and banks once stretched north to south from ‘sea to sea’ between England and Wales. Built by King Offa of Mercia as the first official border to protect his lands, it now pulls double duty as a unique archaeological site and long-distance walking route (measuring a hefty 177 miles/285km).


You can learn about both at Knighton’s Offa’s Dyke Centre, which tells the story of the dyke’s creation (a mammoth task involving thousands of workers), rediscovery and rebirth through a series of fascinating displays.


To see the path and dyke for yourself, you only have to cross the playing fields next to the centre. Here you’ll find a standing stone which commemorates the trail’s opening in 1971 and a well-preserved stretch of the ancient earthwork you can stroll along (don’t worry, we don’t expect you to walk the whole thing).


Local history

It’s hard to imagine a better way to get to know the real Knighton than with a visit to Knighton Museum. Its archive is built almost entirely on donations from the town’s population, making for a truly eclectic array of exhibits.


Have a poke around and you’ll see 18th-century legal documents detailing local land sales, old tin toys, Victorian medicine bottles from the town’s former pharmacy, musical instruments and massive, brick-like mobile phones from the 1980s (a mindblower for younger visitors accustomed to sleek, pocket-sized handsets).


Best of all, these exhibits aren’t locked away behind glass. The museum’s hands-on policy (and friendly, knowledgeable staff) encourages interaction with the artefacts. It’s a little like rummaging around in the town’s collective attic. One notable exception to the touchy-feely rules is the museum’s antique, hand-drawn fire engine. Nicknamed ‘Old Squirter’ and dating from 1780, it’s one of only two surviving examples of this unusual firefighting tool in the UK.


Little and large

Knighton’s winding network of streets reward exploration, but two stand out in perfect contrast. Big Broad Street is the town’s main drag, home to a selection of shops, galleries, pubs and places to eat, where you can pick up everything from musical instruments and locally reared meat to fresh flowers and fine art.


Branching uphill from Broad Street is the much slimmer High Street, also known as The Narrows (for obvious reasons). Once the main route for traffic through town, this slender thoroughfare is now pedestrianised. The 17th-century buildings that line it are home to plenty of interesting shops – including an unusually large number selling toys and models.


Three in one

Framed by green Kinsley Wood rising on the hillside behind it, St Edward’s Church sits at the northern end of (you’ve guessed it) Church Street. Thought to be the only church in Wales dedicated to this particular saint, it’s been through three distinct stages of development.


Initially established in medieval times, it was rebuilt once in the mid 1700s before being almost completely rebuilt again in the Victorian period. Most of what is left today dates from the church’s latest period of development, apart from the square-sided tower made up of a 14th-century base and an upper extension added in the 18th century.




  • Space invaders. A hillside a few miles outside Knighton is the surprising home of the largest telescope in Wales. It’s part of the Spaceguard Centre, an astronomical observatory that studies asteroid and comet impacts – and keeps an eye on the skies for Near Earth Objects that could pose a threat to our planet.

  • Spa day. On the western side of town is a natural spring known as Jacket’s Well. Believed to have been discovered as far back as the Bronze Age, its waters were reputed to heal ailments like sprains and rheumatism. During the Victorian era it was the focus of a short-lived attempt to rebrand Knighton as a spa town. Despite the well’s medicinal properties, these efforts never took off.

  • Halfway house. Knighton sits almost exactly at the mid-point of the 177-mile/285km Offa’s Dyke Path national walking trail. Tracking the ancient boundary between England and Wales, the path enters town from the south through Ffrydd Woods and carries on along the banks of the River Teme just north of the Offa’s Dyke Centre.

  • This is the Way. The Offa’s Dyke Path isn’t Knighton’s only claim to walking fame. The town is also the starting point for Glyndŵr’s Way, which begins at the clocktower on Broad Street. Named after Owain Glyndŵr, the Welsh ruler who rebelled against Henry IV in 1400, the trail winds for 135 miles/217km through Mid Wales, eventually ending up in Welshpool.

  • Disputed territory. Knighton’s border location made it a focal point for conflict between the Welsh and English. As a result, the small town has been home to two castles. The first was a wooden fortress by the river called Bryn-y-Castell, followed by a stone castle built at what is now the top of the town. Both structures were eventually destroyed, though the remains of their earthworks can still be seen.

  • Do you take this woman? One of Knighton’s more unusual (and thankfully discontinued) traditions was known as ‘selling the wife’. Men wishing to obtain a divorce would do so by bringing their spouse at the end of a rope to the spot where the clocktower now stands. The last recorded instance of this bizarre method of separation was recorded in 1842.



You’ll find plenty to keep you busy on a day out exploring Knighton. We’ve highlighted a few of the things you won’t want to miss and the order in which you night like to approach them. They’re only suggestions though, so feel free to tackle them in any order you want. And if you’re pushed for time and can’t spend a whole day, just take your pick of the places that interest you most.


Offa’s Dyke Centre

Knighton’s Welsh name Tref-y-Clawdd translates as ‘The Town on the Dyke’, thanks to its position on the ancient earthwork that once marked the border between England and Wales. Find out all about the dyke’s history (and its rebirth as a national walking trail in 1971) at the fascinating visitor centre, then take the short walk across the playing fields to the path itself. Watch out for the obelisk erected to mark the opening of the trail by Lord John Hunt – part the team that first conquered Mount Everest in 1953.


Take a heritage stroll

Navigate through Knighton’s winding network of streets and you’ll be on a journey through centuries of history. Climb towards the town’s summit and to see the old Market Square (Knighton’s medieval centre) and the last remains of Knighton’s long-destroyed castle.


On West Street, you’ll find the half-timbered Old House and 17th-century Chandos House (now home to a kebab shop), while along Broad Street you can’t miss the 19th-century clocktower and former bank, the latter standing out from the rest of the town’s architecture thanks to its pink granite pillars and green cupola.


Shopping (and more) on Broad Street

Bustling Broad Street is Knighton’s beating heart. Take a stroll along it to browse paintings at Knighton Fine Art, guitars at Knighton Music and everything from wood-burning stoves to crockery at Prince and Pugh, the historic 100-plus-year-old hardware store. There’s also a wide range of cafés, pubs and delis where you can recharge your batteries for further exploration.


Knighton Museum

Take a peek into Knighton’s past at this unique community museum. Built almost entirely out of donations from people living here, it’s an eclectic and engrossing insight into the town’s life. You’ll see everything from antique typewriters and historic documents to ancient farm machinery and decades-old comics and magazines. Best of all, touching the exhibits is actively encouraged, allowing you to go hands-on with Knighton’s absorbing history.


St Edward’s Church

With roots dating back to medieval times, Knighton’s parish church has some fascinating stories to tell. Built and rebuilt over the centuries, its architecture incorporates relics of the different stages of its long life, including a tower with a 14th-century base and 18th-century roof.

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