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Tag: Footpaths

Public rights of way

Hergest Ridge/Offa’s Dyke Path.

Hergest Ridge/Offa’s Dyke Path.

We have been to Hergest Croft Gardens, near Kington, a number of times but we had never been further up the lane to Hergest Ridge at the top. It was now time to change that.

We took our normal route to Hergest Croft Gardens but instead of turning into their car park we went straight past to the end of the lane where we parked and continued on foot through the gate along Offa’s Dyke Path.

Hergest Ridge straddles the English and Welsh border and is part of the Offa’s Dyke walk as well as a standalone highlight in any exploration of Herefordshire.

If you decide to start at the main carpark in Kington a modest climb of 1300 feet up from the quaint town will bring you to this point, where we started, and we continue through the gate on the Offa’s Dyke Route.

Heading for the top the views emerge all around and, as you walk, run, or cycle along the beautiful moorland, you may chance on wild ponies grazing , we didn’t see any, but we saw some wonderful views.

There were numerous people walking up here and you can probably see that Offa’s Dyke Path is well worn and, therefore, easy to see and follow.

There were plenty of wild flowers about and we saw this Tormentil and Gorse on the way up.

From the ridge you can look across to the Black Mountains and even as far as the Malvern Hills, with uninterrupted English and Welsh countryside landscapes all around.

Look out for the Victorian racecourse that sits atop Hergest and imagine the thrills and spills as the horses galloped around the track. As we approached the summit we could see the Monkey Puzzle Trees ahead. This area is part of the Hergest Estate and the trees were planted by one of the owners having seen similar trees growing on mountain tops in Chile in the early 1990’s.

You should also see the Whetstone near the summit, a natural stone, which in medieval times was used as a place to distribute food to people suffering from leprosy. Legend has it that the stone rolled down to Hindwell Brook each time it heard a cock crow. but it doesn’t attempt to explain how it managed to get back up the hill again.

Amanda giving an idea of the stone’s size.
The Whetstone and the Monkey Puzzle Trees.

On the way down we noticed this tree in blossom. Although the blossom is pink we think that it’s a Blackthorn.

This was an easy and very pleasant walk on a warm sunny day.

High & Low – First Trip of 2021

High & Low – First Trip of 2021

This trip took place on 30th March 2021 and this Blog Post is obviously late and there will probably a few more posts that will also be late.

Welsh travelling rules have recently been relaxed so it was time for a day out. We weren’t going far, just 16 miles to the high ground near Newtown and although the road is a typical narrow, winding Welsh backroad it didn’t take us long. We parked in the little free car park at the start of the Kerry Ridgeway which runs for about 15 miles to Bishops Castle although we weren’t going anywhere near the distance.

This is where we stopped and shows the Knighton-Newtown road with the little car park to the right and the start of the Kerry Ridgeway path along the side of the road. The Kerry Ridgeway is one of the oldest paths in Wales probably from the time of the Bronze Age.

We started up the path and soon reached the bend where the path turns away from the road and continues uphill.

As we had started from high ground we had good views almost instantly although it was very hazy.

We walked further along the path looking for the Cross Dyke and soon found it. We couldn’t really miss it could we?

The Cross Dyke, just beyond that wooden post, crosses our path and the next picture shows the twin banks heading downhill towards Newtown and the following picture shows them running down to cross our path and join the top picture of the two below.

The Cross Dyke marks an ancient boundary long since forgotten but, rather like Offa’s Dyke, they took a lot of trouble and effort to build it.

Nearby are the Two Tumps which are Bronze Age burial mounds. There is one on the left, just poking above the far horizon, and one to the right of that, and a little further back, with the far horizon just showing over the top.

We headed further up the path as far as this viewing point which has information, hill names etc., to identify what you can see around you.

It was now time to leave the Kerry Ridgeway, as we had more to do, so we headed back down the path admiring the views on the way.

Along the path I spotted a small area of tiny flowers and there is also a daisy to give a scale. Difficult to identify precisely because there are so many different varieties but it probably is a member of the Whitlow-grass group.

We soon arrived back at the car having been serenaded by Skylarks along the way. We drove towards Knighton for no more than a half-mile and parked in a large layby next to a landscape feature know as ‘The Ring’.

The Ring is a geographical feature caused by the River Teme eroding the bank and causing the higher ground to collapse and then the collapsed soil to be washed away. This picture was taken from road level on a previous occasion and the river is partly in flood producing this waterfall.

On this trip it was relatively dry with little water flowing.

This is the Ring itself. It’s called ‘The Ring’ because it is shaped like a large semi-circular amphitheatre.

We decided that we needed to climb down to look more closely at the waterfall which was at the bottom. It is not safe to climb down just anywhere because the sides are generally far too steep. So we had to visually plot a route down and then set off. The route we followed proved to be quite easy and it didn’t take us long to reach the river.

There was just a trickle of water over the waterfall, which is a pity, so we shall, perhaps, have to try again sometime when it is a bit wetter.

This is the River Teme, the same River Teme that flows through Knighton, heading off from the waterfall down the valley towards Knighton and we now hope to do the same. All we have to do is get back up to the road. We did that without incident, although slower than coming down.

The end of our short, but interesting, trip.

Kington Kaleidoscope.

Kington Kaleidoscope.

We went to Hergest Croft Gardens again recently to see how the autumn colours were progressing and to say that we were blown away, if I might use the vernacular, would be an understatement. The colours were astonishing!

Having looked around the main gardens we walked across ‘The Park’ to ‘Park Wood’, both of which are parts of the Hergest Croft Estate, and we went as far as the Pond. I’ll leave you to be the judge of these scenes.

And now we see Amanda in a blue jacket and red trousers with matching tree.

Having walked on the path around the pond, and its upper valley, we were walking back towards the Pond when we saw this.

We haven’t seen anything like it before. It was a series of trunks arranged in a circle around a central trunk and the trunk material looked to be the consistency of cucumber; nothing like wood. The growth at the top of each trunk was something like feathery leaves. The trunks have obviously been deliberately cut back as part of some sort of maintenance. I’m hoping that someone from Hergest Croft will see this and tell us what it is.

( Hergest Croft later told us that it is a Gunnera i.e. Giant Rhubarb.)

Personally I think that it is a Triffid.

We then left Park Wood and walked back across The Park, which looked lovely in the sunshine, towards the main garden.

Having got back to the main garden we saw, on the ground, a lot of large leaves from a nearby vine of some sort and I have deliberately included my boot to give an idea of scale.

Well that was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting visit. They haven’t seen the last of us yet!

Meadow and Medieval

Meadow and Medieval

A few years ago our friend Marie from the USA came over here and on one day we took her to Stokesay Castle near Craven Arms in Shropshire. We travelled by car and parked in the Stokesay Castle car park as that seemed to be the most obvious thing to do.

We recently decided to visit Stokesay Castle again but this time we were planning to park in the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre on the outskirts of Craven Arms and walk to Stokesay Castle. Marie will probably recognise the views of Stokesay Castle. The Discovery Centre is on the edge of Onny Meadows; a large area of very nice water meadows with numerous footpaths.

We parked and then set off from the Discovery Centre to find the path that would take us across to the other side of the River Onny. We probably would have missed it if it wasn’t for the fact that I had my smartphone in my hand which showed us our position on a map. At the point at which it showed that we had reached the start of the path there was a rather insignificant gap in the hedge and that was the path we wanted. We probably wouldn’t have recognised it otherwise.

We were now heading for the river and on the way we passed some rather nice timber framed cottages.

Then we soon arrived at the ‘White Bridge’ over the river.

I stopped on the bridge to take a photograph of the river so there are no prizes for guessing whose shadow that is.

On the other side of the river we started to climb whilst travelling parallel to the river. The path went through some nice landscapes until it was fairly high above the river and then began to drop slowly until we reached river level again.

The River Onny here is quite deep and so flows very slowly. The overall impression is that of a pond rather than a river and there were plenty of dragonflies about.

As we walked alongside the river I spotted this Reed Canary-Grass which I thought looked rather nice. It is, unsurprisingly, a waterside grass.

Where the river was very shallow at the edges we saw a lot of fry, possibly Minnow, in large shoals. Each fish was only about one inch long.

It didn’t take us very long to get to Stokesay Castle which was looking its usual splendid self. This is an English Heritage property and all visits currently have to be pre-booked because of the Covid-19 situation but entry was quite straight forward. Needless to say there are plenty of features to look at and it really is interesting. They do have a nice gift shop at the entrance and we left carrying three jars of assorted fruit preserves and a bottle of liqueur. I don’t know how that happened.

Having had a good look around we decided that it was time to leave and started to walk back to the Discovery Centre. We passed this recently harvested field and I couldn’t resist a photograph partly because those large hills on the horizon are actually clouds.

We returned on a different path which passed through this wooded area of mainly Ash trees which looked very nice in their silvery bark.

Onward through the meadows were these Tansey flowers which I haven’t seen for some time and this is probably the largest bunch that I’ve seen.

As we approached the Discovery Centre we passed through these wooden representations of Mammoth tusks. These are here because there is, in the Discovery Centre, a full sized replica of Woolly Mammoth remains which were found near Condover, Shrewsbury.

The Discovery Centre is a modern building with a low profile and a grass roof.

The interior is very pleasant with a large gift shop and a well stocked cafe where we had lunch including, of course, finishing up with ice cream ( a very good selection of flavours). This is the passageway to the cafe.

That was the end of another interesting and enjoyable little trip.

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

Now that some of the Covid-19 restrictions in Wales have been relaxed we can go somewhere else – anywhere – so we did just that.

We headed 60 miles due west and found ourselves in Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. It took us about one hour and fortyfive minutes to do those 60 miles because most Welsh roads are anything but wide and straight. The last 10 miles was particularly wiggley but we got there.

We parked in a large car park on Park Avenue and were expecting to pay £1.70 for the day but all the pay machines were covered with large bags and there was no explanation so we ended up paying nothing.

We headed fo the sea front and soon after leaving the car park we walked past the Vale of Rheidol Railway Terminus which is a Heritage Steam Railway that runs to Devil’s Bridge. The last time we went to Devil’s Bridge we saw the other end of this line and took some photographs when a train arrived from Aberystwyth.

This time the terminus in Aberystwyth was closed with no signs of life anywhere so we continued past. Probably because of Covid-19. Pity really.

We headed for the harbour and were then planning to walk north along the sea front as far as the Funicular Railway at the far end of the bay. Where we parked was an obviously new area including a retail park but the buildings and streets suddenly changed when we reached the old part of the town.

This was one of the streets in the area of New Street and the hill in the distance could be Constitution Hill and the funicular railway runs up that.

It was a short walk further on to the harbour which includes the River Rheidol just before it runs into the sea. Both pictures are taken from the same viewpoint but in different directions.

A short walk from the harbour brought us to the sea front. This view is looking south and shows the wall at the entrance to the harbour.

Walking on South Marine Terrace along the sea front we passed these colourful houses and could see the castle in the distance.

Then an equally colourful plant bed.

A short way on we reached Aberystwyth Castle built by Edward I in 1289 but by 1343 the castle was in a bad state of repair. In 1649 Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle to be slighted, i.e. rendered unusable, hence its current condition.

We finally left the castle after having a really good look round and went back down to the sea front onto the New Promenade which was completed in the early 1900s.

On Constitution Hill in the distance, on the left of the next picture, there is a straight line visible running from the top to the bottom – this is the funicular railway of which more later.

In 1795 John Nash built the Old College buildings on the right, with George Jones as the architect, in Gothic style. It was later sold to the University of Wales who turned it into a college for higher education and it later became the University of Aberystwyth. It remained as the main part of the university until the 1960s when the university open a new campus near the National Library of Wales.

A short way on and we found two things – an ice cream kiosk and the pier. We had some ice cream, to help the local economy you understand, and had a look at the pier. It has to be said that this is the shortest seaside pier that we have ever seen. It does have amusements inside and a restaurant at the outer end which has a sun deck visible at the far end. We didn’t have time to visit the restaurant so we moved on.

When we reached this point along the sea front there was a turning off to the right which, having previously looked at the map, I knew led a short distance to the Tourist Information Centre. Having previous looked at some web sites which gave opening times I thought we’d pop in to see if there was anything we should visit that we might have missed. Needless to say it was closed with no signs of life. It was, however, a pleasant part of the town.

We went back to the seafront which has, as you can see, a rather fine beach. This beach runs all the way along the seafront promenade and has a greyish sand but sand nevertheless and there were plenty of people enjoying themselves.

We continued on towards the Funicular Railway passing some colourful, fine looking houses on the way.

We finally arrived at the bottom station of the funicular railway expecting it not to be running because of the current virus problems but it was so we decided to make use of it and take the easy way up.

We were asked to wear masks whilst on the ‘train’, which they supplied at a small charge, and the single fare was £7 for two.

We boarded the coach and, after a short time, it started to move. As with all funiculars there are two sets of rails and two coaches. When one coach is going up the other is coming down so that each coach acts as a counter-weight for the other.

This funicular is interesting in that the rails start up steeply then level off a little then go up an even steeper slope. When we reached the top I took a photograph from the station looking down.

You will be pleased to hear that there is a cafe at the top -we certainly were. They had a good selection of items on the menu including cake so we had to try some. We both had some cheesecake (very nice) and a cup of coffee each. The view from this level is really quite amazing.

The second picture was taken with a telephoto and is of the castle area with the war memorial on the right and parts of the castle showing on the left. You can also see the sundeck on the pier.

Once we had finished our cake and coffee we had to walk back down but just before we did that we had a look at the view north of Aberystwyth towards Clarach Bay. Beautiful.

This is the start of the footpath down but it isn’t that wide all the way.

We are almost at the bottom now.

On the way down we saw a number of wild flowers including Sea Campion, Thyme and Quaking Grass.

Finally back to sea level we now have to walk back to where we parked the car but we did pass through some more interesting parts of Aberystwyth.

We finally staggered back to the car and set off home but this time we are going home via the mountain road rather than the main road which brought us here.

We first go from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge where we join the mountain road.

The next picture, which is just before we reach Rhayader, will be of particular interest to our friend Marie because she has been there. It shows one of the reservoirs in the Elan Valley and we brought Marie this way on that little road in the bottom right corner.

We reached home without incident although Amanda was feeling a little travel sick by this time. It took her about an hour to recover.

I wonder where we’ll go next time!

A Knighton Walk – We’re on edge!

A Knighton Walk – We’re on edge!

Another sunny day – time for another walk. This time we are starting at Offa’s Dyke Centre and walking to just past Nether Skyborry and back on a circular route.

We started from the Offa’s Dyke Centre and this shows the park at the back of the Centre. We set off along the visible path which is actually part of the Offa’s Dyke Path.

Just as we entered the park we saw this rather fine Chestnut Tree in flower.

A little further along the path (still In the park) the grass on the left-hand side was covered in Buttercups and Daisies.

We soon reached the point at which the path divides, the left-hand path leads to a section of Offa’s Dyke, should you want to see that, but we wanted the right-hand fork which follows Offa’s Dyke Path down to the River Teme.

That right-hand path leads to the top of these steps so down we go.

The path levels off briefly, crossing a grassy area, and the bank on the left is the section of dyke mentioned earlier

The path then goes downhill again for a short while to where we turn left still following Offa’s Dyke Path.

We then leave the wooded section into the open where we walk alongside the River Teme for a short while. The hill in the distance is Panpunton Hill.

Leaving the riverside we cross the River Teme on this footbridge

and cross the railway line. There is very good visibility on this crossing as the line is straight for quite a good length and it is very easy to see a train if there is one.

On the other side of the railway line we go through a gate and continue on the path.

The signpost at this point is pointing along the Offa’s Dyle Path, back the way that we have come and off to the right to continue on Offa’s Dyke Path. We, however, are taking a different direction. You should be able to see a very small figure (another walker) in the centre of the picture which is where we are heading. On the left of that figure you may be able to see a patch bare of grass which is the path we are following.

The path continues slightly uphill past a trough and goes through the gate ahead. The gate is held closed by a chain which can be unclipped and, after passing through, do not forget to shut the gate and clip the chain back together.

This section of path passes through this meadow and heads for the far right corner of the field where there is another gate which is very similar to the one we have just passed through..

On the way we passed a number of Hawthorn Trees in blossom. There were also some Bluebells below right.

On the far side of the second field we pass close to the River Teme and start uphill again.

This uphill section is neither long nor steep.

We do, however, soon reach this point where the path appears to go through a tree. That is because the path does go through a tree. When we had a lot of rain earlier in the year it was enough to cause part of the bank on our left to collapse taking the tree with it so that the tree has ended up at an angle although it still appears to be growing. We had to detour around the tree on the right.

On the other side of the tree the path runs along the top of a cliff and you may be able to see that there is quite a drop down to the river. Bearing in mind that we have just seen evidence that this ground is unstable you can see why we were on edge in both senses of the word.

A short way on we saw a number of bright blue Speedwell flowers. Very pretty.

The path continues for some time at about this level. Do you get the impression that Amanda is trying to lose me?

Then we saw some rather attractive Red Campion flowers. There are a lot of wild flowers of various types along this route.

We reach a point where a small stream cuts across the path but what you can’t see is that the path this side is very steeply angled towards the stream but you’ll be sorry to hear that we both made it without getting our feet wet.

Shortly after we saw this splendid example of a coppiced tree and coppicing should not be confused with pollarding.

At this point amanda saw a strange old geezer suffering from OldBufferitis trying to get over a low, very simple stile and making a real meal of it. This is the start of a short section of path which we have named the Assalt Course as there are a number of obstacles to be negotiated.

Just the other side Amanda spotted this Jews Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) which I had missed comletely. The latin name translates to “Judas’s Ear” and is also known as Wood Ear or Jelly Ear.

The strange old geezer made a second appearance when we had to clamber over a fallen tree and made a miserable attempt at making it appear difficult.

There aren’t many choices with this one. Either you clamber over it or crawl under it. We chose the former.

Finally we reached this gate where we left the wooded part and emerged into the open. This gate has an interesting closing mechanism which I haven’t seen before. I won’t attempt to explain it but I managed to work it out so you should also be able to if you attempt the walk.

You may just be able to see a gate in the far hedge in the right half of the picture. It’s above and just left of the left-most sheep. That’s our current target.

On our way to the gate we passed quite close to one of the locals.

When we finally reached the gate we stopped to look back at the view. That hill on the left with the mast on the top is Garth Hill and we have walked on Garth Hill a number of times.

We left the field via a gate and emerged onto the road. The route we are going to take now is from that gate towards and behind the camera which is back towards Nether Skyborry and, thence, Knighton.

It was a bit of a puff going uphill to Nether Skyborry but we managed and the gate on the left had a nameplate on it which read ‘ Nether Skyborry’.

A little further along the road we had this rather nice view of Knighton.

Eventually we reached the point at which Offa’s Dyke Path crosses the road. This view is looking back the way we have come and the gate on the right gives access to Offa’s Dyke Path up Panpunton Hill. The gate on the left takes us back towards Knighton to the point at which, earlier on the route, we branched off the Offa’s Dyke Path.

There is a choice here of going through the gate back to Knighton which will mean the total length of the walk will be three miles or of continuing along the road to Knighton Station and then right along Station Road back into town which would mean a total length of four miles.

We went back home after a delightful walk with a lot of interesting features. We have done it before and we’ll probably do it again.

A Knighton walk – what a rush!

A Knighton walk – what a rush!

It was nice and sunny this morning with the forecast that it would cloud up around lunchtime so we decided on a little walk before that happened. It was cool with a cold wind but still pleasant enough.

We left our house and went via the secret path (I’m not telling you where that is because it’s secret) onto Larkey Lane and thence to Ffrydd Road where we turned right, away from the town. After a short walk we turned up the little lane that goes up to Knighton Golf Course but only for a few yards when we turned right along a public footpath through Great Ffrydd Wood.

That’s when we encountered the rush. Wood Rush in fact. All that ‘grass’ in the picture below isn’t – it’s all Wood Rush.

In the next two pictures you can see the flower heads lit up in the sun.

We followed the current path to a point where it doubles back the way we came but traverses diagonally uphill. At this point we hopped over a stile into a field to try and photograph the Victorian Elan Aqueduct which used to carry carry water from the Elan Valley in Wales to Birmingham. The aqueduct, built in 1896, is difficult to see because of so many surrounding trees and in these next views one of the arches is visible plus part of the horizontal stone structure.

We then went back on to the path through Great Ffrydd Wood and continued uphill. It is a pleasant but long and winding path through the wood and eventually leads back onto the Knighton Golf Course road which, incedentally,is a private road but is also a public right of way.

We finally emerged onto open ground above Knighton. The far hill in the top picture is Kinsley Wood and the open ground on the very left is Panpunton Hill.

The next view, from the same viewpoint is of the Teme Valley running toward Ludlow. The red tree at the foot of the slope appears in both pictures.

Finally a rather nice view of St. Edwards Church, Knighton. This is a Victorian Gothic rebuilding of an earlier church of which the medieval west tower is the only surviving part.

That was the end point of our little walk so we went home.