Monnow Valley Walk
The Monnow Valley walk is a linear walk of 40 miles through the valley of the River Monnow, from Monmouth, near its confluence with the River Wye, to its headwaters below Hay Bluff. From here the walk joins the Offa's Dyke Path National Trail, sharing the same route to the finishing point at Hay-0n-Wye. The walk uses paths which have been selected to provide a special blend of quietness, interesting features and a variety of scenery and terrain. The mixed farming encountered on the first half of the walk gives way to predominantly pastoral farming, and the whole length is interspersed with areas of woodland. In spring and summer the copses and flower meadows are carpeted with a rich flora which supports a wide variety of insect, bird and animal life.
We suggest completing this walk in four stages as listed below. Accommodation is available at each of the stage points.
Day 1: Monmouth to Skenfrith - 12.5km
Day 2: Skenfrith to Walterstone - 21.5km
Day 3: Walterstone to Craswell - 21km
Day 4: Craswell to Hay-on-Wye - 10.5km
The shorter distances on the first and last day allow some time to explore Monmouth and Hay-on-Wye.
Day 1 Monmouth to Skenfrith: Shortly after leaving Monmouth by crossing the Monnow Bridge with its unusual toll house the route enters Vauxhall fields, a popular spot for launching hot air balloons. From here there is a good view back over the river towards Monmouth Castle. At Rockfield the church is well worth visiting with its unusual wooden belfry topped by a dovecote tower. From here the route frequently follows the river and on the opposite bank can be seen Tregate Castle, built on an ancient motte and bailey earthwork. After passing the attractive Tregate Bridge, once a remote crossing from England into Wales, the route passes through poplar plantations, past the 16th century Ruthlin Mill and then leaves the river to climb through woodland onto Coed Anghred Hill from where there are fine views back into the valley and beyond. From here the path descends into the peaceful village of Skenfrith, destination of the first days walk.
Day 2 Skenfrith to Walterstone: Shortly after leaving Skenfrith there is a splendid view across the Monnow valley towards the tower of St Michael's church, Garway, established in the 12th century by the Knights Templar. After crossing the B4347 road and passing White House Farm the route climbs through woodland, from where there are good views of the early 19th century Blackbrook House. After the climb around Graig Syfyrddin the route descends steeply towards Tresenny and Grosmont with its ancient castle ruins highlighted by the striking 14th century chimney. The castle has a fascinating history, particularly relating to the reign of Henry III and is well worth visiting. The church of St Nicholas and the town hall are also of interest. On leaving Grosmont the route makes its way back towards the river. Near Llangua, where there is an 11th century church with a distinctive black and white tower, the route meets the A465 road where it crosses the river. After following the river bank for a short distance the route climbs past Llancillo Court to Walterstone Common and to an Iron Age hill fort at the highest point before descending to Walterstone and the end of the second stage.
Day 3 Walterstone to Craswell: Shortly after leaving Walterstone stage three crosses the Monnow using a footbridge and here the route crosses the boundary between Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. After Oldcastle, where the Court and old church stand on a Roman earthwork, the path climbs steeply to Penywyrlod before following the hill contour and then descending again into the Monnow valley at Clodock. The route then follows the river to Longtown, where the castle ruins are worth visiting. Continuing through peaceful countryside the path leaves and re-joins the river several times before climbing Little Black Hill. From here and occasionally along the route to Craswell there are views down into the valley below.
Day 4 Craswell to Hay-on-Wye: Shortly after leaving Craswell streams and springs, forming the headwaters of the River Monnow, flow from the high ground on both sides, with those on Hay Bluff more noticeable than those on Cefn Hill. This is the borderland of Herefordshire and Powys and the highest point of the walk at 490 metres; the watershed between north and south flowing streams. Hay Bluff dominates the landscape at 677 metres. From Chwarel Ddu the route joins and follows the Offa's Dyke National Trail and is for the most part downhill to Hay-on-Wye.
An accommodation guide is included within the Trail guide
This text has been adapted from the Monnow Valley Walk guidebook.
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