27 August 2006

Cycling Hereford/Wales Border

Here's some directions and information about another wonderful cycle ride we just completed, and this one isn't directly in any book that I know of (though bits and pieces of the ride can be found elsewhere). The ride is mostly in Herefordshire, but crosses into Wales on a few occasions. The satellite image of the route is here. GPS track information available from me - just drop me an email. OS Landranger Map 161 (Abergavenny) is all you'll need (though we actually used a map from Hereford Cycle User's Group that we picked up many years ago, but which doesn't appear to be online any more).

Unlike the last ride I posted, this one is quite a bit tougher - but about the same overall distance (about 41 miles). But, this is a really beautiful ride - fantastic scenery, a few castles, lovely churches, pubs, gardens, etc. It's all on-road, but in 41 miles merely traverses an A-road (twice), and probably has only about 6 miles on B roads.

We started from Skenfrith Castle on the B4521, with easy parking. Take a quick tour of the castle if you've got time (or when you return) - it's free! We then headed up to Grosmont - which also has an old castle, tea room and pub. We then passed through Kentchurch and Pontrilas before heading off (slightly off the route we meant to take) up a very steep hill towards Balls Cross down towards (but not into) Walterstone, then heading up to Clodock, Longtown and then onto Michaelchurch Escley. All of these tiny villages are lovely with a nice church and pub, and the scenery is just wonderful (skirting HayBluff, Black Hill, and Offa's Dyke path). Michaelchurch Escley is the highest point on route (well, just after) at about 950ft, but you're rewarded by a wonderful downhill to Vowchurch which also has a lovely unusual church. Briefly onto the B4348, then right onto the B4347 towards Abbeydore.

We visited the Abbey (photo above) a couple of weeks before. It's a real Abbey, but became a church around the reformation. Although being restored, it's still a lovely and impressive site. Around the corner is Abbeydore gardens with an award-winning tea-room/cafe. Well worth a stop, but not open every day.

We then headed back into the (mostly) pretty Ewyas Harold (pronounced, I think, u-wuss) back to Kentchurch, and this time followed a lovely road to Garway Common with more wonderful views (and a climb). We had a total climb on this route of around 2,700 ft. But the advantage with that is that there are few nice descents, and the best one was the last - back from Broad Oak to Skenfrith Castle (don't take the Skenfrith turn on Garway Common or you'll miss this one). You can then retire to the refurbished and seemingly popular Bell Inn for sustenance.

Truly a lovely route that shows the best of the Herefordshire countryside. And, lots to see and do to take up a full day if you've got time.

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1 comment:

Accountants Hereford said...

Great looking ride - will look to give this a try.