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We explore the geometry of the Cayley graphs of the lamplighter groups and a wide range of wreath products. We show that these groups have dead end elements of arbitrary depth with respect to their natural generating sets. An element w in a group G with finite generating set X is a dead end element if no geodesic ray from the identity to w in the Cayley graph Γ(G, X) can be extended past w. Additionally, we describe some non-convex behaviour of paths between elements in these Cayley graphs and seesaw words, which are potential obstructions to these graphs satisfying the k-fellow traveller property. © The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.