ROSS AND DISTRICT WALKING GROUP - HEREFORDSHIRE WALKING FESTIVAL
by Gill James
James with celebratory cake.
part of their celebration of 25 years of Ross and District
Walking Group, members are leading a walk on each of the
9 days of the Herefordshire Walking Festival covering the
entire Mortimer Trail. The Trail covers 30 miles from Ludlow
to Kington and is unusual for a long distance path in that
it also has five designated loops covering places of interest
along the way - Yarpole, Wigmore, Lingen, Shobden and Titley.
13th June - Ludlow to Orleton. 19 walkers completed the
stretch from Ludlow to Orleton Village, a distance of 9.5
miles, leaving Ludlow Castle and descending to the River
Teme before a long, steady climb up through Mortimer Forest.
The walk then descends through Betty Knoll's valley before
ascending again to the highest point in the Trail at High
Vinnals, where 360° views take in Malvern Hills, the Radnor
Forest, the Brecon Beacons and Black Hill, the Clee Hills
and the Cotswold Ridge on a clear day. A well earned picnic
lunch was enjoyed at High Vinnals before the steady descent
back to Orleton Common and then, leaving the trail for the
day, back to the cars in Orleton Village.
14th June - Croft Ambrey & the Yarpole Loop. 12 walkers
left Orleton Village to retrace their steps to the Common
to rejoin the Trail, ascending to and then along the ridge
to the end of Croft Ambrey with views over the Radnor Forest
and Wigmore. They had a photo stop by a well placed bench,
meeting another group of walkers at this point. Then a short
scramble on to Croft Ambrey itself with again 360° views
from the summit. A steady descent down through Fishpool
Valley then took the group out through the main drive of
Croft Castle, on the Yarpole Loop. Yarpole has an ancient
bell tower in its church yard and as the Church is presently
being refurbished so was not accessible on this occasion.
after a picnic lunch the group left Yarpole and crossing
fields to reach Bircher, then on to Bircher Common, resting
near the top to take in the views again, before descending
down through a steep valley, back to the cars through fields,
including one of elephant grass, Miscanthus, which is used
15th June - The Wigmore Loop. The longest walk of the 9
day series at 11 miles, the Wigmore Loop, the only walk
of the Mortimer Trail which is completely devoted to one
Loop. Leaving Wigmore by road to near the Leinthall Barns,
then along the edge of the Wigmore Glacial Lake to go steeply
up to the edge of Croft Ambrey, resting at the bench which
we reached on Sunday! In spite of the forecast heavy showers,
we enjoyed the views once more. We then walked through Mortimer
Forest and the Croft Castle Estate turning to descend to
Aymestry and across the River Lugg to follow the river to
Ballsgate Common and on past Woodhampton Wood to return
to Wigmore. One small shower did not dampen our spirits
16th June - The Lingen Loop. A very pleasant walk from the
Forestry Commission car park at Lyepole Bridge through fields
and woods, past Lingen Hall where a friendly cat joined
us for a short distance. Then on to Lingen Village itself,
before returning to Upper Lye. The return route took us
over bridges and stiles, with a sharp ascent through a wood
to open farmland with extensive views. We saw a large number
of southern marsh orchids on a track as we made our way
back to Upper Lye. Our picnic spot was in a shaded area
of Sned Wood before making our way the wood down to the
river and back to our cars at Lyepole Bridge.
17th June - Byton and Shobden Wood. Leaving our cars again
at Lyepole Bridge, we made our way up a short steep track
to enter the woods for a long, steady climb to the top.
Just as we reached the summit the rain began which spoiled
the distant views, but did not dampen our enthusiasm for
the walk. There was still the odd bluebell to be seen and
a large variety of other plants and many butterflies. As
we crossed the top we passed an area where trees had been
felled in the previous weeks so were able to gain views
not seen for many years. We then descended down to Byton,
stopping at the Church to see the Clock which is also the
war memorial. We then walked up the road to Kinsham and
returned along the River valley to our cars.
18th June - The Shobden Loop. Parking at Byton, we climbed
up through the village to take the Trail through another
section of Shobden Wood. Then crossing farmland we descended
to cross the golf course at Shobden, to the main road before
turning left into Shobden Court drive. We walked up past
the pools sighting a heron on the way, up to the Strawberry
Gothic Church by Shobden Court. A number of the walkers
had not been there before and were enchanted with the interior
of the Church. We then walked up the avenue to the Arches
for our picnic. The arches formed part of the original church
and whilst over the centuries they have 'weathered' the
carvings are still visible. >
Ross and District Walking Group.
19th June - Wapley Hill. A steady climb initially up the
edge of farmland and woods with good views over the bracken!
Then up through the centre of the wood to Wapley Hill Fort,
an ancient earthwork. We did not have time to explore the
vast area of the fort on this occasion, but dallied long
enough to have our coffee stop! We then descended through
the wood, admiring on the way, a bench which had been carved
from a tree trunk, in memory of the 'bird man of Wapley'.
We made our way back through Stansbatch across farmland
to Byton and our cars.
20th June - The Titley Loop. Parking at the Village Hall
car park, we made our way past the Church and up the hill
over farmland to an ancient green lane which was believed
to be part of the link between the ancient settlements of
Hergest Ridge, Wapley, and Croft Ambrey. We walked on through
the northern edge of Knill Garraway Wood before descending
steeply down to Knill Bridge, returning back along the valley
up through the wood on a different track. At the top we
rested and picnicked whilst enjoying far views, before descending
to our cars. Some of the group felt they had walked enough
so did not complete the final loop. The rest of us went
over the fields to Stansbatch crossing the former rail track
from Titley Junction to Presteigne. We then followed the
main trail back across fields to join the Herefordshire
Trail, (both trails merge and cross at various points) back
to the cars.
21st June - The Final Stretch. Parking in the centre of
Kington, we ascended up through the highest golf course
in Herefordshire to join Offa's Dyke Path on Bradnor Hill
for a short length. Spectacular views were enjoyed from
here into the Welsh Hills, across to the Malverns, the Cotswold
Ridge and the Shropshire Hills. We then descended to through
Little Brampton Wood to the River Arrow and crossed at Knill
Bridge before ascending Little Brampton Scar to walk gently
down though farmland to Kington. We then enjoyed a celebratory
tea at The Chocolate Box where Tina had made us a special
chocolate cake decorated with a footpath, a finger board
and a stile. A fitting end to 9 days and over 80 miles of
the nine days of the Walking Festival we met a large number
of people, many now living in Herefordshire, but also walkers
from as far afield as Edinburgh, Halifax, Norwich, north
Wales, Colchester and Poland. It was great to meet you all.
must end by saying a special thanks to the members of Ross
and District Walking Group who helped take over the leading
of these walks after Chris James had a heart attack in May
which meant he was unable to lead any of the nine walks.
Thank you to Allison, who co-lead 5 days, Jean who co-lead
two days and to Gordon and Robin who co-lead one day each,
also Gordon supported on two further days and Helen on one.
I could not have done it without you!
The final stretch.