Leave Hay on the Offa’s Dyke Path. The easiest way to find this is to go to the main car park and craft centre at the southern end of the town (the tea shop here is excellent, and very tolerant of muddy boots.) From the car park, walk east along the B4352 for a few yards then follow the fingerpost south.
Follow the Path through the fields and up the increasingly steep climb to Upper Danyforest, through the woods to Cadwgan and Cae’r-bwla and out onto the open moor. Walk past a little disused quarry then bear left up to the metalled road.
The OD Path continues up the road towards the Gospel Pass and turns left to go along the Hatterall ridge, but this is a long day’s walk and the road can be busy in summer. The Cistercian Way follows the OD Path for about 0.3 km along the Gospel Pass road. At SO 24012 37888, take the minor road down to the right. At SO 23884 37745 the metalled road bears right down the hill. Take the stony track straight ahead along the contour. This is not a right of way but it crosses access land and is obviously well walked.
At SO 23472 37035 the path bears left at the end of a patch of woodland then makes a hairpin bend to cross a stream. At SO 23519 36945 take the waymarked path through the gate ahead of you to pass above the farm buildings . Cross the stream at SO 23432 36685, go through a gate across the field, bear up to the left to the next gate (SO 23294 36585) then walk along the hedge to your left to join the track past Blaendigedi-uchaf. The track crosses the line of a bridle path at SO 23162 36205 and goes down along the edge of one field, then bears down to the right across the next field and through the gate at SO 22992 36058 to the lane past Pennant.
The right of way has now been re-routed to pass below Pennant. Cross the waymarked footbridge then turn left, over the stile and up the line of the hedge to join the lane at Caemarchog. Walk up the lane.
At SO 22807 35841 turn left onto the main road. In about 0.2 km, at SO 22902 35731, turn sharply right on a well-marked track slanting back across the hillside. After the first quarter of a mile, this is not a public right of way, but it is on public access land and is very well used by horses as well as people.
At SO 22570 35929 the track divides. Bear left and continue round the contour. At SO 22570 35929 turn left and climb steeply to join the bridle way over the pass. There is an excellent example of parallel hollow trails half way up.
At the top of the pass, at SO 22037 34629, paths go left to Twmpa and right to Rhiw y Fan. Again, these are not rights of way, but they are obviously well walked and could be followed down either ridge.
The bridle path becomes a metalled road below Blaen-bwch Farm. A bridle path and then a footpath leave it to the left, but the bridle path goes straight down to the village, bypassing the nineteenth-century monastery at Capel-y-ffin. The footpath runs parallel with the road but crosses the Nant Bwch with no obvious footbridge. The road is not busy and is quite pleasant to walk. At SO 25112 31534, just before the little village of Capel-y-ffin, a road to the right leads up to a group of Italianate buildings on the slope under Tarren yr Esgob. This is Llanthony’s other monastery, Llanthony Tertia.
From the monastery, walk back down the lane to Capel-y-ffin. At SO 25493 31442 turn left to visit the parish church, described by Kilvert as 'squatting like a stout grey owl' among the yews of the churchyard. Just before the churchyard, at SO 25483 31495, take the lane to the right, across the Honddu.
The lane bears round to the right and runs down the valley is by turns a metalled road and a muddy track. It winds up and down the contour, passing the evocatively-named Vision Farm. From just above Trevelog Farm, a footpath is marked on the map running parallel with the road and a little above it. We could not find the beginning of this, but we would like to explore the left fork just after Tafolog Bridge which becomes a footpath after Llwyn-onn and bypasses one of the metalled sections.
Whichever route you take, you will eventually rejoin the main road down the valley just before the Full Moon Inn. Ahead of you is the recently-conserved gatehouse of the outer precinct of Llanthony Priory and a path across the final field to the main priory buildings.
Leave the abbey through the yard of Court Farm. According to the farmer, who we met while crossing the fields in 2005, the footpath was not waymarked where it enters the yard because casual visitors keep mistaking it for the way to the Hatterall ridge. There are waymarks on the gates across the next two fields.
Climb to the top edge of the third field, but there is no need to go up the steps and balance along the upper bank following the waymark. It is easy enough to cross the ditch at the far end.
At SO 29515 27567 go over the stile and up through the woods. The path is little used at present and liable to become overgrown - shorts are not a good idea.
Follow the path up through the woods and across another field to the ruins of Ty-isaf, the Lowest House, at SO 29805 27457. This is an odd name for one of the highest farmhouses in the area. Was it once the lowest of a series of farms on a track running up the valley, we wondered? The field boundary running north from Ty-isaf soon becomes a footpath and runs along the break of slope past several springs. There are farms higher up, at Wiral and Siarpai, and there may have been others. This whole area suffered massive depopulation in the nineteenth century, as well as the more recent problems in the farming industry.
From Ty-isaf, a hollow lane runs south-east then south along the contour. The lane itself is heavily overgrown in places but it is possible to follow the line above or below for a little over a mile, passing the substantial farm of Maes-y-beran below you. From SO 30203 26120 keep above the woods then at SO 30158 25997, cut down to the right and walk below the edge of the trees to the ruins of Weild, once an equally substantial farm.
From Weild, a grassy track slopes down through the next three fields to the bank of the Honddu, then along the river to a footbridge at SO 29105 24790. Do not cross the bridge, but take the stile to its left and follow a clearly waymarked path up through woodland then diagonally to the left. Look out for a waymark which takes the right of way to the left above the farm buildings at Daren-uchaf.
About 0.4 km after Daren-uchaf, at SO 29523 24072, the path divides. The left fork is the better-marked track. It climbs the slope to bypass Daren-isaf, and for the cost of the climb you get better views over the lower Hoddni valley and down towards Llanfihangel Crucornau. Walk down the lane to Pentre and through the north gate of Cwm-iou churchyard.
Leave the churchyard by the east gate. Turn right onto the road. At SO 30015 23285, take the footpath to the left at the angle of the next bend and walk along the hedge to your left. Where the hedge bends to the left, go straight across the next two fields. At SO 30428 23250,cross a stile. Walk along the hedge to your left, cross the road at SO 30558 23277 and walk diagonally to the right up the steep slope ahead of you. Cross the stile at the top of the field (SO 30770 23205) and turn right on the track past Perthi-crwn.
At SO 30938 23027 the track divides. Take the left fork across the field then follow the hedge to your right across the next three fields. In about 0.7 km, at SO 31525 22732, another waymarked footpath cuts across your line at a stile: but keep straight on, then bear to the left across a steep downhill slope.
At SO 31725 22700 cross a footbridge and climb up to your right. Cross two stiles. At SO 31725 22700 turn left into a lane. Turn right almost immediately and walk down the metalled road, straight across the cross-roads and past Trawellwyd. This farm has a strange little shed with a cross set in stone over the door. The main building has the letters IBR and possibly a date carved on it.
You are now back on the line of the Offa’s Dyke Path. You could follow this path practically all the way to Tintern. (From here the Beacons Way takes you to Llanfihangel Crucornau - excellent pub and accommodation. A further diversion west from the Beacons Way would take you to the ruins of the chapel at Stanton).
|Hay-on-Wye to Llanfihangel Crucornau|
© Y Llwybr Sistersiaid / Polisi preifatrwydd