Chapel Hill and Penterry: a rethink

My friends in Tintern are keen to do something about the ruined church of St Mary, Chapel Hill. It’s a pretty little Victorian Gothic building, in ruins since deconsecration and a disastrous fire, though the churchyard is still in the charge of the Church in Wales. They are also keen to revive Tintern as a centre for pilgrimage. It’s a key location on the Cistercian Way – of course –  but there’s also lots of scope for local pilgrimage. The combined parishes of St Arvans, Itton, Devauden, Kilgwrrwg and Penterry do a walk around the parish churches on Rogation Sunday – could we tap into that? And could the Cistercian Way be tweaked to take in Chapel Hill?

So a group of us set out this morning to try it out. Actually, it works very well – if anything, better than the route up the Stony Way, which is now so badly damaged by off-roading as to be dangerous.

Start in the same way, across the main road from the abbey and up past St Anne’s House (the old gatehouse chapel – look for the line of the precinct wall in the surface of the road) but go straight across the side road and up the steep lane to the church. After visiting the church (the building is marked as dangerous but the churchyard is stunning, with some huge C18 tombs) continue up the lane. At SO 52946 00098 the tracks divide – take the left fork and keep going up a lovely hollow way. At ST 52606 99801 cross a forest road

DSC_2025

(here’s Nell with her new friends)

and keep going up to a gate.

DSC_2027

The path winds right and left and up to another gate.

DSC_2029

Walk along the hedge to the gate at the top right corner of the field.

DSC_2030

DSC_2032

Turn left on a metalled lane.

You can cut across the fields to Penterry church from the gate just before the next farm buildings at ST 52196 99539 – angle across the field to the far corner at ST 52082 99071 and keep going on the same line. If the animals in the field put you off, continue on the lane to ST 52342 98851, go through the gate to your right, walk up the field with the hedge to your right, through the gate at the top and up the next field to the church.

This would make a nice circuit: Tintern Abbey – Chapel Hill – Penterry – back to the abbey. The Stony Way is in such a poor state that you might do better walking back across the fields to Ruddings. We didn’t, because we had dogs with us and there were lambs in the fields, but if it had been wet under foot we might have regretted it.

For the walk across the fields, go back down to the metalled road at ST 52342 98851 and go straight across, down to a stile to join the Stony Way at ST 52429 98866. Go straight across the track and over another stile, then turn left and follow the RoW which bears gradually up to your right. You can divert up to visit the (very overgrown) Iron Age fort at the top. The path is waymarked round the farmyard at Ruddings (an old grange site) and down the lane which was actually the main road down the valley before the nineteenth century. Look out for the limekilns to your left on the way down, and the line of the outer precinct wall. I haven’t walked this way for a few years so I probably ought to recheck it, but the local footpaths are generally well maintained.

 

Advertisements

Llangatwg to Llanfaenor: joining the dots

Third day of fine weather. Can we manage to link the walk from Llanthony with the Wye Valley –

Yes, we can!

The Offa’s Dyke Path is still the best way south from below Cwm-iou – it gets you across the railway line and the main road, both difficult crossings (and the road could probably do with a bit more notice for drivers) and across the fields to Llangattock Lingoed. Llangattock is well worth a visit for many reasons. There’s B&B at the Old Rectory (http://www.oldrectorystayinwales.co.uk/ ), a cabin which can be rented just for one night (https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/14687416 ), and the Hunter’s Moon http://www.hunters-moon-inn.co.uk/ , a village pub with food and accommodation. (The pub is open all day from 12 noon, every day, so you can get a cup of tea if you roll past late in the afternoon.)

And the church – http://www.villagealivetrust.org.uk/what-to-see/churches/st-cadocs-church . Much of its medieval rood screen, medieval stained glass (very rare in south Wales), a huge wall painting of St George, and this humdinger of a seventeenth century gravestone.

llangatwg_postref_compressed

The naive vernacular figures either side of a central cross are the trademark of a local firm of stonemasons.

But eventually you have to tear yourself away. The ODP would take you all the way to Monmouth, but the Cistercian Way plans a diversion to visit  the remains of a Cistercian grange. Leave the churchyard by the south gate, following the ODP waymarks. Walk down the field and over a footbridge to turn left on the lane. At SO 36244 19009 follow the ODP waymark across the field to a footbridge at SO 36422 18751.

llangatwg1

Leave the ODP here and turn left down a very muddy bank and across another footbridge at SO 36509 18746.

llangatwg2

Bear slightly to the right up the next field to a stile in the far hedge at SO 36799 18904. Continue on the same line across the next field heading for the impressive Jacobean chimneys of the intriguingly-named Great Pool Hall. (This is a timber-framed gentry house of a kind you would be more likely to find in town – more details at http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/300001924-great-pool-hall-grosmont#.WMqd46JBrIU.)

Cross the road at SO 37057 18999 and walk down through the yard of Great Pool Hall, between the house and the stables. Go through a little gate ahead of you

llangatwg3

and walk along the right side of the hedge. Cross the stile at the far left corner of the field and keep on the same line bearing right towards a stile in the fence at about SO 37554 18827

llangatwg5

(the stile is difficult to see and the fence isn’t on the map).

Look up to your left and you can see the huge mansion of Glen Trothy, built in the 1880s at the height of the Victorian passion for Scots Baronial architecture.

llangatwg4

It was built for the Vaughan family, who were Catholics, and has a lovely little chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart (http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/300014407-glen-trothy-house-including-attached-sacred-heart-chapel-llantilio-crossenny#.WMqeo6JBrIV ). The house isn’t open to the public. (If you Google for places to stay nearby you may find the Glen Trothy Caravan Park but that’s nowhere near – it’s in Mitchel Troy, south of Monmouth.)

The bank below the stile is a bit overgrown but there were some lovely wood anemones.

llangatwg6

Scramble down, turn left on the metalled drive, immediately right over a little bridge and immediately left up the bank.

llangatwg7

You are now on the line of the Three Castles Way – a promoted route, and reasonably well waymarked. Cross the road at SO 37675 18743, scramble up the far bank (there are steps but they are worn) and over the stile.

llangatwg8

Bear up to the right across the next field to a stile about ⅔ up the far fence.

llangatwg9

Continue bearing round to the right past Cae Scybor. Cross the drive and walk to the left of the hedge ahead of you.

llangatwg10

When the hedge bears to the right, keep straight on to cross a stile at SO SO 38102 18930. Bear slightly to the left across the next field. The map shows the RoW going along the hollow lane at the far side of the field but this can be very muddy (police have put warning signs about off-road activity) so the RoW is now waymarked along the far edge of the field to a stile and gate at SO 38295 19093.

llangatwg11

Turn left and walk along the lane. Turn right on the metalled road and right again at the fork following the sign for Cat’s Ash. In about ⅔ km you reach Llanfair Cilgoed, site of Dore’s grange. The name suggests it might have been an early Christian hermitage. You can cross the stile at SO 38976 19088 and walk diagonally across the field to look at the earthworks of what may have been fishponds and vineyards.

llangatwg12

The land of the grange was sold off when Dore was closed in 1536 but the grange chapel became a chapel of ease, a small church for weekly services but without the power to do the big stuff like baptisms, marriages and funerals. In 1560 the curate was a John Dydbroke who had been a monk at Dore. He would not have been paid much as a curate but he had also managed to get hold of a lease of the grange so he could have lived quite comfortably on that. The present church is a little Victorian box, built when the old one had long been in ruins and people had to trek nearly 6 km to the church in Llandeilo Gresynni.

Llanfair church is worth seeing. There is some good modern stained glass and a very informative exhibition about the history of the grange and the Cistercian order (though I did spot one mistake – thirteen Cistercian houses in late medieval Wales? What about the other two??)

A bit more background at  http://www.villagealivetrust.org.uk/what-to-see/churches/st-mary. The church is always open and has a kettle, tea and coffee for walkers.

llangatwg13

Continue down the lane and just past the churchyard there is a gate in the hedge which gets you back into the grange field. The foundations of the old church are in a small railed enclosure ahead of you.

llangatwg14

Pick up the footpath again, walk below Llanfair Grange farmhouse and bear left to the far left corner of the field.

llangatwg15

The stream is culverted here but it is still very muddy. Immediately over the stream, turn left and cross a stile.

llangatwg16

Bear right across the next field and head for the far right corner (the woods marked on the OS map are no longer there).

llangatwg17

Cross a stile and turn left on the main road by the 1861 restaurant (http://www.18-61.co.uk/ – tbh it looks a bit posh for walkers but might be good for an evening-out  treat).

Past the restaurant, take the next turning to the left. At SO 39947 19229 (opposite The Laurels) take the waymarked footpath through the gate to your left. Walk to your right and gradually downhill to a gate at SO 40187 18976.

llangatwg18

Continue parallel with the stream to another gate (with a rather battered stile) at SO 40368 18652.

llangatwg19

Turn left on a roughly metalled road. After the bridge, this becomes a muddy lane going steeply up hill.

llangatwg20

At the top it becomes very overgrown and so muddy as to be impassable (more off-roading, but this is technically a byway for vehicles so it’s legal) but it’s easy to get into the field to the right and walk along the hedge.

Turn right on a metalled road and follow it to Llanllwyd. Go through the farmyard at Great Llanllwyd and straight on along a lane (this one a restricted byway – horses but not motorised traffic). After the dogleg in the lane go straight on through the gate ahead and to your right, and walk down hill to the right of the hedge.

llangatwg21

When you pass under the pylons, go through the gate to your left and continue on the same line but to the left of the hedge. There is a slight hollow trail along the hedge. At the bottom right corner of the field, go through a gate and down a lane to the ford and footbridge at Little Mill.

llangatwg22

Here you pick up the route I explored last summer (https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/pushing-up-the-borders/ ) and walk on to Grace Dieu and Monmouth and down the Wye valley to Tintern.

So we have the route clear and walkable from Capel-y-ffin to Tintern and on to Llantarnam. Now all I have to do is get it translated …

Llanthony to Cwm-iou (2)

Strike 2. Yesterday (https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/llanthony-to-cwm-iou-1/) ended at the bridge at SO 29087 24788 with instructions not to go over the bridge and follow the waymarked route to Cwm-iou but to take the footpath up to Daren. The path started well but got very very muddy. Also it goes through several farmyards – which I always find a bit uncomfortable – and the first farmyard was literally knee deep in mud and completely impassable on foot. The only option was to go back down the lane and go for the lower, waymarked path.

Actually, it isn’t too bad. Cross the bridge at SO 29087 24788, and bear left to the road. Turn left. In about ½ km. at SO 28942 24273 take the waymarked lane over the bridge to your left.

cwmiou1

After the cottage, go over the stile to your left,

cwmiou2

cross the lane (2 more stiles),

cwmiou3

turn right and follow the hedge to your right.

cwmiou4

Good views up to the ‘yoke’ which gives its name to Cwm-iou, the result of a post-glacial land slip.

cwmiou5

The path is well stiled and waymarked straight along the east bank of the Hoddni to the Cwm-iou road.

cwmiou6

Turn left on the road and walk up to the church. (I did try the footpath waymarked to the left but it takes you a long way up to the lane above the church only to come back down again.

The church was as lovely as ever – sad monument to little Joan Williams,

cwmiou_williams

these in the chancel,

cwmiou_monuments

this in the south window.

cwmiou_joanwilliams_compressed

Leave the church by the west gate, turn right on the steep road downhill, then on the next bend at SO 29988 23291 take the waymarked path to the left.

cwmiou7

Follow on the same line over the stiles, across the next two fields,

cwmiou8cwmiou9

cwmiou10

along the hedge,

cwmiou11

across a minor road and over a stream.

cwmiou12

Bear up to the right across the next field to the lane above Perthi-crwn.

cwmiou13

The right of way goes in front of the house and along a lane.

cwmiou14

Continue on the same line through the fields, with the hedge to your right.

cwmiou15

cwmiou16

cwmiou18

After you cross a small stream at SO 31468 22758, ignore the turning to the right but go over the stile at the far right corner of the field.

cwmiou19

Bear left across the next field,

cwmiou20

cross the stream at SO 31728 22698

cwmiou21

and bear up to the right towards a stile at the top of the next field, SO 31778 22588.

cwmiou22

Keep bearing to the right and cross another stile at SO 31817 22530.

cwmiou23

Turn left on a muddy lane then right when you meet a metalled road at SO 31864 22543.

cwmiou24

You are now on the Beacons Way. At SO 32074 22362 the Offa’s Dyke Path joins from the left. I’m still puzzled by the stonework in the little garage ahead of you, at Trawellwyd.

cwmiou_trawellwyd

It must have been recycled – but from where?

Keep straight on and follow the OD waymarks, which will take to across the railway and main road to Llangattock Lingoed. You could follow the OD to Monmouth but I’m working on a slight diversion past Abbey Dore’s grange at Llanfair Cilgoed.

Possibly tomorrow, DV and Derek the Weather permitting?

Cistercian Way: Grace Dieu to Tintern

Time to track back and revisit some of what we walked in 2005 and put on the web site. There are a few updates – well, it was 10 years ago. We didn’t think much then of the Wye Valley Walk from Monmouth to Whitebrook. It’s easy, flat, along the river bank, but to be honest a bit boring. On the other hand it’s easy, flat … But I was being ambitious and wanted some thing more interesting. So what follows is largely what was on the old web site at http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/target/26640439/source/search with a few corrections.

From Grace Dieu, it has to be the Offa’s Dyke Path to the outskirts of Monmouth. Where the OD path turns left into the town, continue on the west bank of the Trothy. In about 1/4 mile, take the road to the right signposted Mitchell Troy. Walk over the dual carriageway.

When the road bends sharply to the right, take the footpath straight on along the drive to Troy House.

Keep straight on to the right of the house and through the modern outbuildings and up the track.

wyevalley2abovetroycompressed

Follow the track past the first two fields then cross left into the field and walk up the hedge to your right. Go over a stile and into the trees. Turn left along a track. When you are just past the far corner of the field you were in, take the waymarked footpath to the right and walk up a lovely hollow lane.

wyevalley3pathcompressed

At the top we need some waymarking. Don’t take the first track to the right – it’s waymarked but not technically a right of way. Take the second, almost immediately after – not waymarked when we were there but this is the footpath.

The path goes over a stile and out of the trees. Follow the hedgerow along the bottom of the first two fields. The right of way has been diverted below a cottage: follow the waymarks to Penallt churchyard.

wyevalley4penalltcompressed

I couldn’t resist going in to look at the ledger stones. No crosses, but these – very crudely lettered. Are they the same firm as the St Maughans ones?

wyevalleypenalltdoretycompressed wyevalleypenalltjenkins compressed

Also this rather cute cherub in the graveyard

wyevalleypenalltcherubcompressed

Leave the churchyard by the lychgate and turn left to walk downhill. In about 1/4 mile, just before a cottage, a waymarked track goes up to the right. Walk steeply up hill through the trees, along the top edge of a field, past a converted barn, back into the trees and down a hollow lane. Cross a stony track and keep straight on, across a metalled road and up through the trees along another hollow lane. Turn right on the metalled road and bear left at the T junction. When the road bends to the right, take the footpath straight on through the Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Pentwyn nature reserve and turn right on a track which becomes a side road into Penallt village.

Walk straight through Penallt and across the crossroads at the end of the village, then take the waymarked footpath to the left immediately after the crossroads. This takes you through trees and past the garden of the Argoed. When you leave the gardens, the path divides. Take the left fork round the edge of the rough ground. Turn left on the metalled road. When the road divides, first take the right fork then the left. This is a no through road which passes several cottages then becomes a stony track as it goes into the woods.

wyevalley5pwllplythincompressed

Ignore the bridleway to your right at the forest entrance. Waymarked Glyn Mills, it would take you to the medieval borough of Trelech and the medieval road from Bristol to Chester. This is now a very minor metalled road which becomes a track at Tintern Cross, but it’s a considerable diversion.

The road into the forest soon divides. I took the right fork which descends steeply to a stony track. Turn left on the track then when the track bends sharply to the left take the path to the right (I think the left fork probably crosses the track here). Follow the path steeply down hill (a very eroded hollow way) and turn left on the metalled road at Whitebrook.

In about 200 yards, two no through roads go up to your right. Take the second. Follow it until it becomes a track. Here the Wye Valley Walk joins the track and goes steeply up hill to your right.

wyevalley6abovewhitebrookcompressed

Turn left on the metalled road at the top, follow it to another steep turning to the right, then left again along the metalled road. When the road turns right, take the track straight on. From here the Wye Valley Walk swings through the woods with lovely views

wyevalley7view

to pass above Llandogo, through Bargain Wood and Botany Bay to the river at Brockweir.. Here the Wye Valley Walk remains on the west bank. There is a good path to Tintern Parva but after that you have about ½ mile of busy main road to reach Tintern. A better route is to cross the river at Brockweir and turn right at the pub. You are briefly walking along the line of the Offa’s Dyke path, but where the OD Path is waymarked up to your left, keep on the lower track and follow it into the trees.

When you can see Tintern Abbey below you, turn right on the track of the old Wye Valley Railway and walk across the bridge. This gets you to the Abbey Mill: once the monks’ corn mill, then an iron forge and furnace, now a tourist and craft centre. Walk on down the river to reach the abbey.

By the time I met Steve at the Abbey Mill I was staggering along – it was a much harder walk than in 2005. At this rate I might be revisiting the riverbank walk to Whitebrook.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

(A good alternative to crops, and you can let them down to get through the nettles. Eliot obviously knew what he was talking about.)