Search Results : herefordshire

Dec 212019
 


First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The village of Longtown straggles out a mile along its back country road in a quiet corner of western Herefordshire. On this murky morning the Norman castle on its modest mound seemed the most upstanding feature of the Olchon Valley. The great rampart of the Black Mountains, walling in the valley on west, stood all but invisible in thick grey mist.

We walked the round of the circular keep, under the projecting chute of Lord Gilbert de Lacy’s own private garderobe, and on down through the stubby curtain wall. It was hard to credit that the battered and much-quarried little ruin once dominated all this valley and its commerce by road or river.

Strolling out of Longtown and down the pastures towards the winding Olchon Brook, the mountainous scene came gradually into focus ahead. From the river bank the green fields sloped up past Cayo Farm to where they abruptly steepened into the bracken-brown mountainside.

A grassy trod, one of a whole skein of paths criss-crossing these Welsh Border hills, slanted up the slope and deposited us at the top onto the broad saddle of Hatterrall Ridge. Suddenly the view opened for miles westward, down into the long cleft of the Vale of Ewyas, over and across into the wild central massif of the Black Mountains. The great arches and monastery ruins of Llanthony Priory lay screened by trees and the slope of the lane, but we could see the old packhorse track to the abbey falling away into Ewyas as a hillside thread.

Offa, late 8th-century King of Mercia, ordered a mighty earthen wall and dyke or ditch to be built along the borders to keep the warlike Welsh in their place. Here along the high lookout of Hatterrall Ridge run the remnants of Offa’s Dyke. We followed it north with tremendous views on all sides, present-day lords of all we surveyed.

All too soon our homeward path appeared, a steep track sloping down the mountainside into the Olchon Valley and its sheep pastures once more. A familiar landmark beckoned us back across the fields to Longtown – the stumpy castle keep, still standing sentinel over valley, road and river.

Start: Longtown Castle, Longtown, near Abergavenny HR2 0LE (OS ref SO 321292)

Getting there: Longtown is signed off A465 (Abergavenny-Brecon).

Walk (5¾ miles, some steep ascents, OS Explorer OL13): From castle, right along road. Opposite Outdoor Learning Centre, right (322290). Path down to cross stile; down field to road (320288). Through gate, left of ford (‘permissive path’); in 50m, right across brook; left up field to Cayo Farm (317285). Through farmyard; on up 4 fields (fence on right), then bear left to stile (310280) and green lane.

At top of rise cross green track (309279, yellow arrow/YA); bear left along green track, sloping uphill for ½ mile. Near top, path forks; go right uphill to Offa’s Dyke Path (308270). Right along ridge following ODP. In 900m pass trig pillar (305279); in another 600m pass cairn (300283); in 250m, at second cairn at cross-paths, right (299285). Path soon bears left and slants downhill. In 200m ignore green track hairpin to right (300288); in another 350m, hairpin right at cross-tracks (300291). Follow path, keeping same line, downhill for 500m to cross stream at corner of fence (303287). Right downhill to track; left to road (304289); right.

Pass Great Turnant farm (306288). In 300m, at Lower Turnant, right along gravel driveway (308291, fingerpost). Follow white arrows to left, then through gate. Down field to cross holloway at bottom left corner (310292, gates, YA). On down field; through gate by pond (312293); across field, through right-hand of 2 gates (314293). In 100m, left (gate, stone stile); down to cross footbridge (315293). Across fields (gates, stiles), heading for Longtown Castle.

Lunch/Accommodation: Crown Inn, Longtown HR2 0LT (01873-860217, crowninnlongtown.co.uk

Info: Hay-on-Wye TIC (01497-820144); visitengland.com/herefordshire; satmap.com; ramblers.org.uk

 Posted by at 02:36
Apr 212018
 


First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The first swallow of the year came dipping through the arches of Aymestry Bridge, flitting low over the River Lugg. We watched it draw a line through the still air as we sat pulling on our boots and looking forward to a long day’s hike in the Herefordshire hills.

Looking back from the slopes under Beechenbank Wood, we saw the early morning mist lying as thick as bonfire smoke along the Lugg Valley. Overhead the milky blue sky gave promise of beautiful warm weather. The pigeons on the ploughed field near Mental Cottage seemed as lazy as the day, until we came closer and saw that they were decoys. Two fresh-faced lads grinned out of the hedge nearby where they knelt and waited for the real thing, shotguns at the ready.

We dipped down to Covenhope Farm by its reservoir lake to pick up the Mortimer Trail long-distance path. It lifted us up and over the long spine of Shobdon Hill among conifers and oak glades. Holly blue butterflies flashed their brilliant blue underwings as they hunted moisture in the boot ruts of the path. A flash of movement drew Jane’s attention to a clearing, where a lesser spotted woodpecker swooped from tree to tree.

The view was enormous and hazy, out over the hills of the Welsh borders. We skirted the precipitous bank of Byton Common, and came down to St Mary’s Church at Byton. Built in the south wall we found a semi-circular stone, carved almost a thousand years ago, depicting the Lamb of God holding a cross, and interlaced carving either side that remarkably resembled the Woolmark logo.

An orange and a sip of water apiece, and we took the road to Lower Kinsham. A muddy bridleway shadowed the Lugg in its sinuous windings among damp meadows awash with cuckoo flowers. At Lower Yeld a small boy was riding his tricycle in the ford, absorbed by the splash and sparkle of the water. If it hadn’t been for the four miles or so we still had to go, we’d have sat for hours and watched the ford ourselves.

Start: Riverside Inn, Aymestry, Herefordshire HR6 9ST (OS ref SO 425654)

Getting there: Aymestry is on A4110 (Hereford-Leintwardine). Park at Riverside Inn (please ask permission, and please give inn your custom!)

Walk (12¼ miles, long but easy underfoot, OS Explorers 203, 201): From car park, right up A4110. Right up side of Riverside Inn (gate, fingerpost). Up garden slope to gate (yellow arrow/YA). Uphill with hedge on right to gate (423654, YA). Left, and follow YAs through plantation to top of rise; left (422653) along field edge. Below Mental Cottage (421650) cross drive; through gate (YA); right, round field edge to stile (419650, YA).

Cross field to top left corner; ahead to left of shed (417650). Through metal gate; half left to top left corner of field (415649, stile, YA). On along field edge (stile); follow hedge into Church Wood (412647). Fork left down slope to forest track (412646); left for ½ mile to road (413638). Right to Covenhope Farm (408642). Opposite farm, left by barn; fork right up track; in 100m, left along forest track (Mortimer Trail/MT; 406643).

In 350m, track forks left (403645); keep ahead here uphill on grassy track. In 350m track forks right at bench (400647); keep ahead here (left branch) uphill and on across Shobdon Hill. In 1½ miles descend to left bend (380640); right here (MT waymark post). In 200m, left (MT) through kissing gate. Don’t fork right downhill on track, but cross it and keep on path at top of steep slope of Byton Common. In ½ mile at fingerpost (372636, MT), right downhill. At bottom of Park Wood pass cottage on right (372639); right up steps to stile (MT). Cross field to road; right to St Mary’s Church car park and path to church (371642).

Just beyond church car park, right down green lane to road. Right for ¾ mile to cross River Lugg at Lower Kinsham (363646). At left bend, right (east) on path by river for 1¼ miles. Nearing Lower Yeld, track curves away uphill from river; follow it to hedge, and bear right along hedge to gate (378654, blue arrow). Left into lane, right through gate; ahead to ford and road at Lower Yeld.

Bear right; round left bend; follow road for 1 mile to Lye Corner (395658). Right (‘Covenhope’) down lane to Lyepole Bridge (398654). Just before bridge, left (MT) along lower edge of Sned Wood. In ½ mile, round left bend (414661), in another 350m, right over stile (MT); cross field to road (414664, MT). Right for 1 mile to A4110 (426656); right to Riverside Inn.

Conditions: Path along Byton Common is narrow, with steep slope.

Lunch: Picnic

Accommodation: Riverside Inn, Aymestry (01568-708440, riversideaymestry.co.uk)

Info: Leominster TIC (01568-616460)
visitengland.com; satmap.com; ramblers.org.uk

 Posted by at 09:28
Jun 102017
 


First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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There were exciting times in medieval Ewyas Harold, back when the Welsh Borders were aflame with insurrection against their Norman/English overlords. The church tower, squat and small-windowed, looks more of a fortress than an ecclesiastical construction, and the tree-smothered mound on the outskirts of the village once held a castle built by the Earl of Hereford as a stronghold against the Welsh.

Today all is peace and quiet hereabouts. Goats graze the castle meadow. On the pasture slopes as we walked west, a muscular bull in a gleaming grey pelt stood lord of twenty slow-munching brown cows. At Platch the farmer came to his gate to point out the path. ‘See those white buildings in the trees across the valley? That’s where I was born – so I haven’t moved far!’

The sharp profile of Ysgyryd Fawr stood up on the southern skyline as we skirted Wigga farm. Down in the valley below, Rowlestone church lay modestly beside the lane. You’d never guess from the plain northern aspect of St Peter’s what artistic treasure lies within.

The master masons of the Herefordshire School of Sculpture created a 12th-century masterpiece in this humble spot. Over the south doorway Christ sits in glory inside an oval mandorla. Angels swing joyously on its frame like children in a playground. A Green Man with Medusa curls of foliage stares manically alongside. Inside, carved birds flank the chancel arch where St Peter and an angelic friend are depicted right way up, then upside down. The details have stayed remarkably sharp over the 900 years of these sculptures’ existence.

From the flowery churchyard (early purple orchids, cowslips, violets, milkmaids) we descended to the Cwm Brook, with a flock of frantically bleating sheep at our heels. A beautiful stretch of meadows beside the brook, a green lane leading to the banks of the River Monnow among delicate white flowers of meadow saxifrage – a rarity in this part of the world – and we were cresting the last hill outside Ewyas Harold.

There are lively times still in this small village. A hundred locals in party mood had descended on the Temple Bar Inn, and their animated talk and laughter drew us irresistibly in.

Start: Temple Bar Inn, Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire, HR2 0EU (OS ref SO 387286)

Getting there: Bus 440 (Abbey Dore – Pontrilas)
Road – Ewyas Harold is signed off A465 (Abergavenny-Hereford) at Pontrilas.

Walk (7 miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL13): From Temple Bar Inn, right (‘Longtown’) past Dog Inn. In 200m bear left up steps (386287). Cross field to left of castle mound; then track past sheds, through gate (yellow arrow/YA) and on west through 4 fields with hedge on right. In 5th field, Prior’s Wood is on right; at end of Prior’s Wood in 6th field (376290), aim a little left, away from wood, across field. Keep left of metal gate (373290); follow hedge on right for 50m to go through gate (YA). On through 3 fields with hedge on right to Platch Farm (‘Plash’ on OS Explorer); left up drive (farmer prefers walkers to use this, rather than footpath) to road (369286).

Right along road. In 600m, at Ball’s Cross, left (364285, ‘Rowlestone’); in 100m, left over stile (fingerpost/FP). Through scrub, then aim for top right corner of field. Right over stile; left along hedge; left through gate at field end; right along hedge to pass between sheds at Wigga Farm (366282). Cross field and stile; on to gate into road (368279). Left; in ¼ mile, opposite gate on left, turn right through gates (370277) down left side of hedge. In 50m, left (YA) along field to stile (372274, YA) into orchard. Through gate; follow hedge down to road, right to Rowlestone church (374271).

On left bend by church, cross road. Left through gate (YA); down field slope, bearing left to cross Cwm Brook by footbridge (372268). Left along right bank of brook for 600m to cross road (377264). Cross stile (FP); on with hedge on left. Over stile (YA) and footbridge; at next field end, right over stile (380262). Immediately left over stile; on with hedge on left; through gate to farm track. With house down on right (381261), turn left up concrete track to road and turn right (384262) past Rowlstone Park Farm.

In 400m, on second sharp right bend, keep ahead (386262) on stony lane between hedges. In 300m, just before River Monnow, left through gate (389263, FP). Bear left along river. In 500m bear left up slope to house on ridge (391267). Through gate; right along lane to road (391270); right downhill to Pontrilas. Left along A465; in 150m cross junction with B4347 (‘Ewyas Harold’); in another 40m, left (395276, FP) to cross Dulas Brook. Left along river bank (‘Herefordshire Trail’/HT). At end of 2nd field, half right (390286, HT) to cross stile; follow hedge to stile, then drive to road; left into Ewyas Harold.

Conditions: Many stiles!

Lunch/Accommodation: Temple Bar Inn, Ewyas Harold (01981-240423; thetemplebarinn.co.uk) – very friendly, helpful and comfortable

Info: Hereford TIC (01432-268430)

satmap.com, ramblers.org.uk; visitengland.com

 Posted by at 01:19
Oct 292016
 


First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Clouds were pushing briskly north over Herefordshire in layers of slate grey and silver. The steeply folded countryside of the Wye Valley had settled in for the cold season with strings of scarlet bryony berries festooning the leafless hedges and the cattle gone from the pastures to their winter sheds.

Up in the trees above Fownhope the Wye Valley Walk traced the long ridge of Common Hill, looking south over steep quarrying ground – now thickly wooded – towards the rainy hills of the Forest of Dean. Fieldfares newly arrived from Scandinavia were pillaging the windfalls in long-abandoned cider orchards, their pale spotted breasts and smoky grey heads bobbing among the brown and yellow fruit.

‘We used to send all our cider apples to Bulmers,’ said the farmer who stopped for a chat. ‘But then they said, ”Tisn’t enough, don’t bother.” So now we just leaves ’em for the birds and the deer, and they go through ’em like nobody’s business!’

Through the ancient woodland of Lea and Paget’s Woods went the Wye Valley Walk, past old limekilns half buried among the tree roots. On the grassy slope beyond the woods a potbellied pig was champing the greenery with splayed tusks and plenty of squelching, his sagging stomach trailing along the ground.

A short, sharp climb to the elliptical rampart of Capler Camp, an Iron Age hill fort commanding a wonderful southward view across the Wye Valley. Down through pines and larches and we were finally at close quarters with the Wye itself, walking the bankside footpath round the wide bends of the river. The water raced by, swirling and bubbling, carrying a flock of Canada geese who trumpeted to one another as the river swept them away round a bend.

Back at Fownhope, the crooked broach spire of St Mary’s Church beckoned us. The 12th-century tympanum of the Virgin and Child inside the church displays all the idiosyncratic brilliance of the style known as the Herefordshire School of Sculpture. The wide-eyed Virgin delicately balances a mysterious fruit between thumb and forefinger. A Wye Valley cider apple? I’d like to think so.

Start: Greenman Inn, Fownhope, Herefordshire HR1 4PE (OS ref SO 578345)

Getting there: Bus 453 from Hereford
Road: M50, Jct 4; A449 (‘Ledbury’); in 1¾ miles, Fownhope signed to left on B4224.

Walk (6½ miles, moderate, OS Explorer 189. NB: Detailed directions are strongly recommended. Download them, along with online maps, more walks at christophersomerville.co.uk): From Greenman Inn, right along street. At church, left up Common Hill Lane. Pass Fownhope Medical Centre; in 200m, left through gate (584345). Dogleg right-left-right round 2 field edges (yellow arrows/YAs); up to cross stile and lane (585347) and on up bank (YA). In 50m, left (YA); in 30m fork right uphill (YA). In 150m, right by electricity pole (YA); in 100m, on ridge, right along Wye Valley Walk/WVW (586348).

Follow waymarked WVW east for ¾ mile to cross road on Common Hill (595346). Continue on WVW through Lea and Paget’s Woods for 600m to junction of paths at waymark post (599342). Blue and yellow arrows point ahead; but fork right, following WVW and ‘This Way to Ross’/TWTR. In 200m leave trees (599340); in another 250m, with Middle Green house on your left, bear right (601339), descending through successive gates with distinctive curly ironwork. Follow WVW down hedge on right into valley bottom (601337), then aim across field for kissing gate on skyline, 50m left of farm buildings at Overdine (600336). Ahead across field to B4224 (598334).

Left (WVW); in 100m, right down lane (‘Caplor’). In 150m, left into yard (597332). In 100m, right; follow WVW up fields, then steeply up steps to Capler Camp hill fort (596329). Bear right to barn; pass right end of barn; right along southern ramparts of fort. In 350m, enter trees (WVW); in another 70m, fork left (592329, TWTR) down through pines to road at Capler Lodge (591324). Left for 100m to viewpoint; then back along road and steeply downhill. At foot of hill, sharp left on path (587328); in 30m, fork right, steeply down past YA. At foot of slope, right along River Wye.

In ¾ mile, cross garden of Mancell’s Ferry cottage. At far side of garden, cross stile (576328).

If riverbank route clear:
Continue along riverbank for 1¼ miles. At entrance to wood (572337), don’t be tempted to continue beside river – the path is dangerously eroded in the wood. Instead, bear right away from river and follow southern edge of wood. In 300m descend to riverbank beside Leabrink house (575339). Follow path between house and river; continue on riverbank for 300m, then bear right inland (575342). Left through belt of willow; across field and through gate. Cross footbridge (576346); ahead (YA); in 50m, bear right up green lane past houses to B4224 (577346). Right into village.

If riverbank route flooded:
Keep ahead from Mancell’s Ferry cottage (NW) across field, soon with a bank on right, to metal gate, then kissing gate (YA). Cross farm track (573330) and keep ahead with bank on right. In 300m, right over stile (571333, YA); uphill with hedge on right. In 150m, at tree with YA, cross field to barn (573335). Pass to left of barn, cross 2 stiles (no waymarks) and field to kissing gate (574338, YA). Bear right down slope to stile (YA) on left of gate above Leabrink (575339). Follow hedge on left to cross lane by sewage works (577340, YA). Follow footpath (YA) back to Fownhope.

Conditions:
1. Wye riverbank path can flood in winter – ring Greenman Inn to check.
2. Don’t follow riverbank path through the wood near Leabrink – it’s slippery, eroded and dangerous!

Lunch/Accommodation: Greenman, Fownhope (01432-860243, thegreenman.co) – very smart, stylish place

Info: Hereford TIC (01432-268430)
visitengland.com; satmap.com; ramblers.org.uk

 Posted by at 01:50
Apr 072012
 

Two tiny terriers came barking to the fence of the Bull’s Head Inn at Craswall as we pulled on our boots in the lane.
First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The Bull’s Head is a little gem, a lost-and-gone pub full of character in a remote cleft of the hilly border country where Powys frowns down on Herefordshire.

A pale sun was trying its best to draw aside the blankets of mist that the Black Mountains had pulled across their shoulders overnight. Celandines and daffodils were struggling out in the roadside verges, chaffinches burbled, catkins hung long and yellow from the hazels – everything spoke of spring just around the corner.

Craswall’s modest Church of St Mary crouched in its ring of trees. Inside, everything was plain and simple – a tiny gallery, beams shaped and bevelled by some nameless medieval village carpenter, hard upright pews. The sunken grassy hollow on the north side was an arena for cockfights not so long ago, and Craswall boys would play fives against the church wall.

We followed a bridleway through sheep pastures, heading north to cross the infant River Monnow in a dell under alders and low-growing oaks. The dogs of Abbey Farm barked us in and out of the farmyard. Down in the cleft beyond, sunk deep into grassy turf banks, lay the silent and time-shattered ruins of Craswall Priory. The Order of Grandmont monks ran it in medieval times with a severe rule and harsh discipline. They could not have chosen a bleaker or more remote spot to build their refuge, or a more beautiful one to a modern walker’s eyes. The curved apse still holds its rough altar, sandstone sedilia and triple piscina complete with stone bowls and drain holes. Over all is a profound sense of peace, and an echo of melancholy.

Up on the ridge we strode out. Suddenly the mist curtain shredded away and a stunning view lay ahead – the great steep prow of Hay Bluff and the upturned boat keel of its long south-going ridge, towering 700 feet above us but completely hidden until now. We stood and stared, entranced, before turning back to follow old green lanes that led down to Craswall over a succession of rushing mountain fords.

START: Bull’s Head PH, Craswall, near Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR2 0PN (OS ref SO 278360).

GETTING THERE: A438, B4351 to Hay-on-Wye. Follow B4350 west out of town; on outskirts, left up Forest Road (‘Capel-y-ffin’). In 2½ miles fork left (‘Craswall 4’). Park at Bull’s Head, Craswall.

WALK (6 miles, moderate, OS Explorer OL13):
With phone box behind you, descend road with Bull’s Head on your right. Just beyond Craswall Church (281363), right off road; immediately left (blue arrow/BA; ‘Monnow Valley Walk’/MVW). Follow BAs along hillside for nearly 1 mile; ford River Monnow (276375); aim across field to far top corner (275378); on through gates to Abbey Farm (274379). Left down drive to Craswall Abbey ruins (273377); on up drive to road (268373). Left; in 300 m, right (271370; ‘bridleway’ fingerpost/BFP). Follow BA and MVW through fields for nearly 1 mile. Through gates, over stile at caravans (257374; BA); on through gate on skyline (255373). On for ¼ mile through 2 gates; at 2nd one (251373, at Brecon Beacons National Park boundary) turn left up end of larch plantation. At top of wood, left along its south side. Pass Coed Major on left (256371), down to cross stream (257369), and follow green lane/path through gates. In ⅔ mile it becomes metalled lane. At gate (268363), right (BFP) for 50 m; left (BFP) on bridleway through gates. In ¾ mile, at post with 2 BAs (278357), left to road; left to Bull’s Head.

REFRESHMENTS: Picnic; or Bull’s Head, Craswall (01981-510616; thebullsheadcraswall.co.uk) – characterful old pub; open Fri+Sat, 12-3, 7-late; Sun 12-3. Parties of 10+ at other times by arrangement.

ACCOMMODATION: Pandy Inn, Dorstone HR3 6AN (01981-550273; pandyinn.co.uk) – lovely friendly pub, fabulous wooden chalet for B&B.

HAY-ON-WYE FESTIVAL: 31 May-10 June (hayfestival.com)

INFORMATION: Hay-on-Wye TIC (01497-820144; visitherefordshire.co.uk)

Readers’ Walks: Come and enjoy a country walk with our experts! Dates, info etc.: http://www.mytimesplus.co.uk/travel/uk/1867/times-walks. Next walks – Lake District, 8 April; Holy Island, Northumberland, 13 May
www.ramblers.org.uk www.satmap.com www.LogMyTrip.co.uk

 Posted by at 02:24
Mar 142009
 

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Around the church tower at Yarpole the fading snowdrops and swelling daffodils made contrasting notes in the tentative chorus of spring just commencing along the lanes of north Herefordshire. It was hard to picture the raw mayhem of border warfare here, the bitter atmosphere of bloodshed and anger between Welsh and English neighbours that caused the medieval builders to raise the tower of St Leonard’s as a separate structure from the body of the church, a refuge for besieged villagers as much as a belfry to call the faithful to worship.

Under the oaks at the bottom of Fishpool Valley lay a string of medieval fishponds, their water sluggish and petrol-blue from the chemicals exuded by the rotting leaves that lined them. Jane and I strolled slowly through the valley and on up a side dingle, sniffing damp air richly scented with leaf-mould and moss. Out at the top a sentinel avenue of ancient, weather-blasted sweet chestnuts fell away with the lie of the land towards 14th-century Croft Castle, tucked away on its saddle of ground below. Crofts have lived here since the Norman Conquest in a succession broken only once. King Edward IV sent Thomas Croft off across the western ocean on a secret mission in the early 1480s, to confirm the existence of rich fishing grounds at the edge of the world. Did the Herefordshire man beat Christopher Columbus to the discovery of the New World? The family believe he did, at all events.

We left Croft Castle to its mysteries, and turned north through Croft Wood where a flock of redpolls with chestnut wings and scarlet caps was flirting and swinging in the bare birch branches. From the high ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort of Croft Ambrey, exhilarated by the cold wind and the climb, we gazed over thirty miles of tumbled border hills from sharp-prowed Titterstone Clee in the north-east to the Powys mountains out west. The bones of this wonderful panorama can hardly have changed in the two thousand years since the last native British inhabitants quit Croft Ambrey after 600 years of occupation. Perhaps they were forced out by the invading Romans, or maybe they simply thought it safe at last, under Pax Romanus, to colonise the lower and easier lands.

Through Oaker Coppice and across Bircher Common we tramped, revelling in the freedom of picking our own path across this large swathe of Access Land. Since the revolutionary CROW (Countryside and Rights Of Way) Act passed into law in 2000, nearly 2 million acres of upland, moor and mountain in England and Wales have been opened to walkers to wander where they will – a right and privilege to be treasured. Then it was on down the field slopes towards Yarpole, looking south over lowlands washed with muted blues and greys under the heavy cold afternoon light of a late winter’s day.

 

 

Start & finish: Bell Inn, Yarpole, Herefordshire HR6 0BD (OS ref SO 467649)

Getting there: A49 to Leominster, B4361 to Luston, minor road to Yarpole.

Walk (5 miles, easy/moderate grade, OS Explorer 203):

Bell Inn – footpath crossing B4362 (459653) – pond (458656) – up Fishpool Valley for 2/3 mile. Left (450662 – post marked ‘8’) – Keeper’s Lodge (446661) – Croft Wood – forward along Mortimer Trail (443666). Croft Ambrey hillfort (444668) – Whiteway Head (457675) – through Oaker Coppice (459672-462667). Across Bircher Common past cottages (462663) – left to Beechall Cottage (464661) – right up bank – recross B4362 (466655). Left for 50 yards (take care!); right through garden gate (‘shut gate’ sign); left along stream – stiles and waymark arrows to Yarpole.

Lunch: Bell Inn (01569-780359; www.thebellinnyarpole.co.uk) – stylish, wonderful food

Croft Castle (NT): www.nationaltrust.org

More info: Leominster TIC (01568-616460; www.visitherefordshire.co.uk)

Detailed map and walk directions: www.christophersomerville.co.uk

 Posted by at 00:00
Sep 282013
 

Sparrows were chirping in a bright morning over north-west Worcestershire as we left the cheerful Tally Ho Inn and plunged out into a wide rolling landscape with the Herefordshire hills lumped blue and cloudy in the south-west.
First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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A big dark hare sprang up almost underfoot and dashed away across a newly mown hayfield, yellow-green and stubbly. This was exhilarating walking, like striding across the backs of great solid waves.

Hanley Child lay at the foot of orchard slopes, a clutch of medieval houses and outbuildings, timber-framed under tiled roofs. By Town Farm sheep came bleating across a field, their phlegmy voices loud and manic. The farmer hurried to block their escape through the gate. ‘Out walking? Yes, it’s lovely round here. A hidden treasure – or so they tell me,’ he smiled wryly.

We descended a nettly and brambly bank to Stonyford, and took the track to Norgrove where cherries hung heavy in the orchard, their colours a spectrum from creamy yellow through tangerine to boot-polish crimson. Beyond the house lay tangled woods and the long, man-made lake of Kyre Pool, centrepiece of an 18th-century landscaped park, perhaps the work of Capability Brown. The multiform house dates back in part to Plantagenet times and looks out on gardens, lawns and pools.

In the adjacent church we found a very beautiful and simple 14th-century painting of a haloed saint, holding in her left hand a book or box, in her right an orb or perhaps a circle of light from a lamp. The red ochre figure is the preliminary sketch made by the artist; the brilliant pigments with which he embellished the saint have all faded or fallen away, and only this ghost of his first inspiration remains.

We turned for home by way of The Grove farmhouse with its early Dutch gable, and the old moat at Bannall’s Farm sunk in a thicket of oak and ash. The farm dogs barked us in and nuzzled us out, down the lane to Coppice House, and along the edges of barley fields. On the hill above Woodstock Bower a great silky-coated bull was roaring softly. ‘He won’t hurt you,’ reassured the farm worker who bounced up in his buggy. ‘He’s got a bad hip, that’s all, and the young heifers won’t leave him alone. I’ll walk you across the field, if you like,’ and he did so, with proper old-style courtesy.

Start: Tally Ho Inn, Broadheath, Worcs, WR15 8QX (OS ref SO 662655)

Getting there: Broadheath is on B4204 between Tenbury Wells (A456) and Clifton-upon-Teme

Walk (8½ miles, easy/moderate, OS Explorer 203): Over stile in left corner of Tally Ho’s car park as you face the road. Down field, aiming for lone tree at bottom. Up far slope, aiming right of bushy patch to right of Hill Farm. Follow hedge right to stile in corner (655654, yellow arrow/YA). Diagonally left to bottom left corner of field (stile/YA); diagonally down to gate at far bottom corner (652653). Left along lane (blue arrow/BA), through gate and on past Court Farm, Hanley Child; at fork, right to junction by Town Farm (648651).

Left; in 100m, right over stile; right along hedge to stile (YA); down jungly bank to road at Stonyford (645650). Left to cross river; in 150m, ahead through gate (fingerpost). Diagonally left through cherry orchard to gate near Norgrove house (639649). YA points left to bottom of orchard. Right over stile (YA), across bottom of garden, clockwise round lawns to go through gate at top left corner of garden. Diagonally left through adjacent gate; half left down slope; cross stile (637649, BA) into trees. At T-junction of paths, right for ⅓ mile to reach Park Pale track beside Kyre Pool dam (631649). Left across dam, follow track for ¾ mile to B4214 (629639).

Cross road; left along it for 200m; right (‘Kyre Park Gardens’) on minor road. In 350m, turn right for Kyre Church and Kyre Park Gardens, or to continue walk, turn left here (627635, fingerpost) along track by walled garden. Pass cottage (628633); on up left side of garden to cross footbridge. Left to recross B4214 (630633). Down drive opposite (‘Bridleway’); pass The Grove and keep ahead (635632) along rutted track (BA). At bottom of slope, left through gate (636634); aim half right across field (BA) to go through gate on far side (639636). Right along hedge, through gap; ahead across field, up next field’s hedge to pass moat (643638).

At Bannall’s Farm (644638), left down stony lane, following BAs. Through gate by Coppice House (643641); on through trees. In 150m, reach 2 gates; through right-hand one (643642); on by fence along bottom of garden. Through gate at end, and on through a series of horse gates. Climb bank; on along field edge, following BAs for nearly ½ mile. Nearing Woodstock Bower, path forks; take upper (left) one. In 150m, just before gate, left over stile (654642, YA); climb bank. Cross stile at top; follow wood edge round to right; cross stile, up bank to turn left over track at top of hill (656644, fingerpost). Cross fields, then drive; through gates (YAs) to cross road (657646; stile, fingerpost). Over field to Broach Cottage (660647); left up drive to cross road (659649, fingerpost). Follow hedge on right; right over stile in top corner (660651, YA); bear left clockwise round garden edge. Cross stile in top right corner; ahead between fence and hedge to road (662651); left to Tally Ho.

Lunch/Accommodation: Tally Ho Inn, Bell Lane, Broadheath, near Tenbury Wells (01886-853241; tallyhorestaurant.co.uk) – cheerful country pub with good clean rooms.

Info: Tenbury Wells TIC (01584-810136 or 01684-892289)
www.ramblers.org.uk www.satmap.com www.LogMyTrip.co.uk

 Posted by at 11:27
Sep 192009
 

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Nine o’clock on a Sunday morning, with streamers of cloud hiding the top of Worcestershire Beacon and the whole Malvern range spread under a cool and cloudy sky. Dew soaked our trousers as we brushed through the pastures and corn stubbles, walking north in a patchwork countryside of green and gold with the Malverns bulking on our right hand.

In the straggly hamlet of Evendine, a screech among the masses petunias of a beautiful cottage garden made us jump. ‘Oh, that’s Harry our young bantam cockerel,’ chuckled the lady of the house, leaning out of her window. ‘That’s his little trick, startling people as they go by. A blonde with highlights, he is. We’re getting him a couple of lady friends to shut him up!’

We struck off down a farm lane towards the high wrinkled ramparts of the British Camp, one of several ancient forts and strongholds along the ridge of the Malverns. Long-tailed tits and blackbirds lifted their voices among the oaks and overshot coppiced hazels of Hatfield Coppice as we trod the broad track of the Worcestershire Way southwards along the foot of the hills. We fingered the green, apricot-like fruit of a bullace tree that leaned across the path, making one of those fantasy resolutions never actually to be fulfilled, to return and pick the ripened yield for a Christmas of bullace gin around the fire.

Following the medieval Shire Ditch up the spine of Broad Down, then on up the magnificent quadruple ramparts of the British Camp, I thought of proud Caractacus defying the Romans from these heights in 51AD. The last stand of the Catuvellaunian king probably didn’t happen here, in point of fact, despite what legends say. But watching children in bright football shirts swooping like buzzards down the slopes, and looking away into Wales and up over the Midland plains – a hundred-mile view – it seemed a place where old spirits might linger.

Looking down, we made out the churchyard of St Wulstan’s at Little Malvern, where Edward Elgar lies. ‘If ever you’re walking on the hills and hear this,’ said Elgar of the cello concerto he composed below the Malverns, ‘don’t be frightened – it’s only me.’

Start & finish: British Camp car park, on A449 opposite Malvern Hills Hotel, Wynds Point, Jubilee Drive, Malvern WR13 6DW (OS ref SO 763404)

Getting there: Train (www.thetrainline.com; www.railcard.co.uk) to Colwall (¾ mile from Evendine by footpath). Bus (www.herefordshire.gov.uk): 44B or Malvern Hills Hopper. Road: M5, M50 (Jct 1); A38, A4104 via Upton-on-Severn to Little Malvern; A449 towards Ledbury.

Walk (3½ miles, moderate grade, OS Explorer 190): Cross A449 (take care!); up B4232 (‘West Malvern’). In 10 yd, by public lavatories on left, are 2 fingerposts; follow right-hand one (past WCs). In 50 yd, cross stile; keep ahead downhill, across field and over stile with 2 yellow arrows/YA; keep ahead to cross stream and stile (760409); ahead (YAs) to road by Upper House in Evendine (759413). Left for ¼ mile; just past Lower House Farm, left (755412; fingerpost, YA) along lane. In ⅓ mile, left over stile by Oldcastle Farm gates (756406; YA), then 2 more stiles, before aiming diagonally left uphill (757405) to cross stile at corner of Hatfield Coppice (758404; YA). In 30 yd, right over stile (YA); follow Worcestershire Way/WW through trees to cross A449.

Continue south on WW. In ⅓ mile cross steep track (758396); in another ⅓ mile, cross stile with reservoir on right (761392). In 200 yd, left (YA) off WW up track for 100 yd to saddle of ground where 5 paths meet (762390). Sharp left uphill on broad gravelly track; in 30 yd, at ‘Hangman’s Hill, Broad Down’ marker stone, bear right uphill on track which swings left to follow Malvern ridge northwards. In ¼ mile descend left to toposcope on saddle (762395); follow ‘British Camp Earthworks’ sign to summit. Continue on track to second summit (760400), and down to car park.

NB – More walks: www.christophersomerville.co.uk

Lunch: Malvern Hills Hotel (01684-540690; www.malvernhillshotel.co.uk); café/kiosk at car park

More info: Malvern TIC, 21 Church Street, Great Malvern (01684-892289); www.malvernhills.org.uk; www.malvernhillsaonb.org.uk

 

 Posted by at 00:00