view at lunch just above Wood farm and Wain Wen below Cefn-hir, lookingtowards Hergest Ridge (left).


View below Cefn-hir towards Gladestry (centre) and Hergest Ridge (left).

Kington & Hergest Ridge,


12th - 14th November 2010


Kington possesses a most attractive riverside recreation ground which houses the town's cricket club and is the venue for many local outdoor events. Kington Golf Club's 18-hole course on Bradnor Hill is said to be the highest in England, over 390 metres above sea level. It is a "Border Town" in the Marches in an area where it rightly claims to be a centre for walking. The precise meaning of the term designating this area has varied at different periods. The English terms Welsh March, The March of Wales, in Medieval Latin Marchia Walliae, were originally used in the Middle Ages to denote a more precisely defined territory, the marches between England and the Principality of Wales, in which Marcher lords had specific rights, held to some extent independently of the king of England. The local countryside can also offer quiet country lanes for those visitors who prefer to cycle. The town is in the shadow of Hergest Ridge, and on the River Arrow, where it is crossed by the A44 road. It is 21 miles north-west from Hereford, around a 30 minute car journey. The west end of Kington is dominated by the tall clock tower commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. Adjacent to this is Kington's Museum. Standing high on a hill overlooking Kington is St. Mary's Church. On the edge of Kington can be found Hergest Croft Gardens where you can enjoy naturally landscaped gardens with two national collections of trees.  You can also visit The Small Breeds Farm Park and Owl Centre at Kingswood, Kington. Nearby towns include Presteigne, Knighton and Leominster. There are beautiful panoramic views all round the town of the open countryside and surrounding hills. Kington may have derived from King's-ton, being Anglo-Saxon for "King's Town", similar to other nearby towns such as Presteigne meaning "Priest's Town" and Knighton being "Knight's Town".

View just above Wood farm, just below below Cefn-hir on Offas Dyke.


View towards Gladestry and Huntington beyond, from below Cefn-hir on Offas Dyke.


View towards a farm just outside Gladestry, from below Cefn-hir on Offas Dyke.


From Kington, England along Hergest Ridge via Gladestry, Wales - view the track.


After breakfast on Saturday 13th November, we wandered up Victoria Street into the High Street and then around the corner and up the hillside into Church Street towards St Mary's Church. Crossing the grounds of the church, we headed up Ridgebourne Road past Hergest Croft Gardens. The road eventually peters out into a dirt track, reaching Hergest Ridge, where glorious views of the surrounding countryside greeted us. As mentioned elsewhere on this website on an earlier trip, Hergest Ridge was also the title of Mike Oldfield's second album. The walk then crossed the English-Welsh border, descending into the Welsh town of Gladestry. The village, in the heart of the Welsh Marches, lies on the Offa's Dyke Path between Hay-on-Wye and Kington, at the centre of one of the few remaining unspoilt areas of outstanding natural beauty left in Britain. Offa's Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa) is a massive linear earthwork, roughly following some of the current border between England and Wales. In places, it is up to 20 metres wide (including its flanking ditch) and 2.5 metres high. In the 8th century it formed some kind of delineation between the Anglian kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

Just outside the town a sign marks the Offas Dyke walk, so we ascended the hillside once more past a farm near Wain Wen, stopping for lunch, whilst taking in the splendid views back towards Gladestry and Hergest Ridge beyond. From here the group split up, one led by Gordon heading back toward Kington, whilst the rest of us, led by Tim, headed towards a hill covered in heather, known as Cefn-hir, close to Colva Hill. Though paths had been shorn in the heather, none led to the summit of the hill and we found ourselves bounding across the heather and the uneven terrain beneath our feet. Concious of the fact that the daylight hours were fast drawing to a close and that we still had Hergest Ridge to cross on our return to Kington, we knew we had to increase our stride substantially. The way down from the hillside took a different route to that of our ascent and this led to some uncertainty on the part of our navigators. On the ascent of the ridge, we head the sound of bugles and barking beagles and a fox hunt was spotted in the distance. The air grew distinctly chillier a dusk fast approached whilst on the ridge, though I found myself engaged in conversation with Ruth, whose work involves raising money for charities outside the United Kingdom from large corporate organisations. Back at the Old School bunkhouse, I downed a refreshing Magners cider before showering and heading off early to the Oxford Arms once again for dinner, returning to the hostel well before ten for a tea in the cosy lounge.


Views at lunch, from below Cefn-hir on Offas Dyke, towards Gladestry and Hergest Ridge.


View from the heather slopes of Cefn-hir below Colva Hill.



Views from Cefn-hir on our descent, possibly towards Llanfihangel Hill.

The parish church of St Mary, Kington, dates to the 12th century. The oldest part of the building is the nave, while the chancel was added in the 13th century, and the chapel and south aisle a century later. In the churchyard is an 18th century preaching cross. The font is 12th century, in tub style, with rope moulding. The most interesting feature of the interior is probably the 15th century effigies of Sir Thomas Vaughan of  Hergest Croft and his wife, Ellen Gethin. Sir Thomas was killed at the Battle of Banbury in 1469, at the height of the Wars of the Roses. He was known as 'Black Vaughan', and the legend of a 'Black Dog of Hergest' provided the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles. Lady Ellen was the daughter of Dafydd ap Cadwgan ap Phylip Dorddu, and is known as 'Ellen the Terrible', which may be a mistranslation of her Welsh name. A much kindlier translation of Gethin is 'dark skinned'. The Hergest Estate covers over 1000 acres, at the core of which stands the historic manor house of Hergest Court. The manor dates back to 1267, when it was built by Hwyel ap Meurig. The current house was built in 1895 by Richard Drew. It served for a time as a school, and a repository for the Herefordshite Archives. It has since been converted into flats. An old legend tells that the house is haunted by a spectral black hound, called The Black Dog of Hergest. A 70 acre garden in the Welsh Marches, with views west to the Black Mountains. Hergest is a creation of three generations of keen gardeners from the Banks family. Between them, the Banks's have created a pleasing garden featuring over 5,000 rare and unusual trees and shrubs.


Views on the descent from the heather slopes of Cefn-hir below Colva Hill towards Hergest Ridge.


The countryside of the Welsh Marches, described as bucolic by some.


Debating the way down from Cefn-hir towards Gladestry, conscious of the fact that daylight will soon draw to an end.


View of Lane House Farm on the descent from Cefn-hir  on Offas Dyke.


Woodland along the Welsh Marches.


View of Gladestry on the descent from Cefn-hir  on Offas Dyke.


A section of woodland in the Welsh Marches countryside.


Not just our stride but the shadows too draw longer, on our return through the town Gladestry in the Welsh Marches, with Hergest Ridge between us and Kington.



The church of St Mary the Virgin in Gladestry, Wales,


Elm Villa, Gladestry, on the way back up towards Hergest Ridge


View towards Huntington, on the ascent towards Hergest Ridge, late afternoon.


Dusk on Hergest Ridge.


At the end of the day and a hugely satisfying walk - just outside Kington.



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