A PLEASANT amble through peaceful Kilvert border country, albeit with precious few facilities, before climbing 400m to the summit of Hergest Ridge and then a final descent into the delectable little town of Kington.
Distance: 24.04 km
Ascent: 579 m
Time: 6 hours
Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Y Gelli Gandryll / Hay-on-Wye to Kington
Gladestry boasts the only pub on the route – The Royal Oak with limited opening hours, but they will apparently respond to ringing the doorbell at lunchtimes if they’re closed. However there are plenty of pubs, cafes and accommodation at either end, which in Kington includes the Royal Oak Hotel, the Swan Hotel and the Burton Hotel and health club. Buses leave Kington hourly for Hereford, and every 2 or 3 hours to Knighton, where you’ll find the nearest railway station.
Keep an eye out for:
Traveline for UK Public Transport can be used to determine exact bus and train times.
Offa’s Dyke from Y Gelli Gandryll / Hay-on-Wye to Kington Details
The fourth section of Offa’s Dyke from Y Gelli Gandryll / Hay-on-Wye to Kington
Offa’s Dyke from Y Gelli Gandryll / Hay-on-Wye to Kington Route Map and GPX file
WE encounter the river Wye for the first time since leaving Monmouth, following it for a while before entering the rolling farmland that inspired the Rev Francis Kilvert to write his famous diaries of observations on rural life in the area in the 1870s.
The Path passes through the hamlet of Newchurch, where St Mary’s church is usually open and offers a cup of self-service tea or coffee for a donation. A little further on you might be fortunate to catch the Royal Oak pub open in the village of Gladestry, known in Welsh as Llanfair Llythynwg. A short detour to Michaelchurch-On-Arrow allows you to view the impressive 17th century manor house of Baynham Hall, registered by ancient monuments agency Cadw.
We soon cross the border as the Path heads upland and over an elongated hill known as Hergest Ridge, rising to a height of 426m. The views as far south as Pen y Fan (pronounced Pen-uh-van), Wales’ highest mountain outside of Snowdonia, and to the Malvern Hills to the east, can be breathtaking on a clear day.
Locals once believed that the ghosts of local squire Sir Thomas Vaughan and the infamous Black Dog of Hergest roamed the Ridge. It’s believed to be the inspiration behind Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s classic 1902 Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, the author having been a guest at nearby Hergest Hall.
Also on the Ridge you’ll see the clear remains of an old racecourse popular in the early 19th century, and last used in the 1880s.
The final amble into Kington is a pleasant end to the section, and an opportunity to day dream about a relaxing evening ahead should you intend to stay. Kington lies 3km inside England but to the west of Offa’s Dyke, indicating that in all probability it at one time stood in Wales. It’s a market town of some 3,000 people offering all the facilities a weary traveller could ask for.