- Start: Mill Street car park opposite the Primary School.
- End: Mill Street car park opposite the Primary School.
- Country: England
- County: Herefordshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub:
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 201
- Difficulty: Medium
Greta Pennington of Mortimer Ramblers leads us through kissing gates, romantic countryside and the lovely little town of Kington
Town and country walk
Greta Pennington of Mortimer Ramblers leads us through kissing gates,
romantic countryside and the lovely little town of Kington
A walk around Kington
Start/Parking: Mill Street car park opposite the Primary School.
Pay and Display
Maps: OS Explorer 201
Grade: Moderate. Undulating, with a steady, easy, uphill walk to the top of Hergest Ridge
Stiles: Three (and 10 kissing gates!)
Public Transport: Bus connections to Hereford, Leominster and Presteigne. Sargeants is the main bus company. Timetables are available at tourist information outlets or ring 0871 2002233 for details of all bus times
Nearest town: Kington
Refreshments: Numerous and various, ranging from fish and chips to hotels by way of tea shops, cafes, and pubs
Toilets: Next to museum, nearly opposite the car park
Kington, the smallest of the Herefordshire market towns was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It lies on the English/Welsh border and appears very much as a hill town, with Bradnor Hill to the north, Hergest Ridge to the west and the countryside rolling out to the Golden Valley in the south.
It is also almost surrounded by water with the River Arrow to the south and the Bach Brook on the north and east.
The original town grew up around Castle Hill but by medieval times the grid pattern of the settlement at the bottom of the hill was well-established. Many of the houses date back 300 years although sometimes this is not obvious from the facades, many of which were added at later times. As a border town it witnessed many skirmishes between the Welsh and the English.
1. From the car park in Mill Street walk towards the town centre, passing first the primary school, originally built as the board school for the town, then the museum on the left and the public conveniences, before turning left at the Market Hall to start up Church Road. Having passed the bookshop, after 50 yards, turn right into the square, with the Swan Inn on the corner. At the left hand corner of the square, turn left to go up to Doctors Lane, where you turn right to take you back to Church Road. This diversion provides you with a view of a number of interesting houses and gardens. When you reach Castle Hill, have a look at the plaque on the wall, on the right, before continuing on up to the church. Here is the site of the original settlement of the town.
Enter the churchyard through the 18th century lych gate, take the left hand path to the front of the church, where, on the right you will see the remains of an 18th century preaching cross, now the focus of a garden of remembrance. St Marys is a Norman church believed to have been built on the site of a Saxon church. It has what was originally a detached 12th century tower. Building and additions continued up to Victorian times.
There are fine lancet windows and a 15th century tomb of Thomas Vaughan and his wife, Ellen.
2. After leaving the church continue on round and down to the lane. There are very good views up to Bradnor Hill and down to the Arrow valley. You also look down on the old buildings of Lady Hawkins School, now converted to dwellings. Lady Margaret Hawkins, a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I bequeathed 800 to keep a free school in Kington for the instructing and education of children in literature and good education. The school opened in 1632. Cross the main road and follow the minor road signposted Hergest Croft and Ridgebourne. After about 100 yards go through the metal gate on the left which is way-marked. Walk up the field following round by the wall to another two metal kissing gates. After passing through the second gate you have a very good view back to the church. Walk round by the wall and up the field to go through the wooden field gate and then along by the fence to yet another metal kissing gate. Having come through this, continue up the field which you will realise was once part of the parkland of Hergest Croft, which now lies on your right. You have good views of this side of the gardens, which you may later choose to visit. (There is an entrance fee). These famous gardens contain a great variety of trees, shrubs and flowers (some rare) and rhododendrons. Cross the stile and walk on to the next gate, beside which there is a large, hollowed out tree. Bear right alongside the fence to the gate, walk right to the next gate, cross the yard and follow the lane to the top and then turn left to go on to Hergest Ridge.
3. There is a steady up hill walk to the top between the gorse bushes and bracken. There is plentiful bird life, sheep, and wild ponies.
As you climb, the view opens up to your right of Bradnor Hill and Rushock Hill. You are now walking along the Offas Dyke Path. Further up there are views to Stanner rocks, the Quarry at Old Radnor and beyond them to Radnor Forest and on a fine day, up to mid-Wales. You cross a wide grass track, which was part of the old racecourse. At the top of your climb there is a clump of monkey puzzle trees. These were planted over 30 years ago. Just off to the right is the Whet Stone. Hunt through the gorse bushes for the large anvil-shaped stone that is an erratic, a boulder left by the retreating glacier from the last Ice Age. As you continue on level ground the views open towards the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. When you reach the next wide stretch of grass track, the continuation of the racetrack, turn sharp left and go down and back on yourself, to walk along the racetrack. Now you are looking towards the Malvern Hills, the Pyons at Canon Pyon and Kings Pyon, Burton Hill and Ivington Hill, an Iron Age hill fort. This is truly an ancient landscape.
Take the well-marked grass track on the right down to the clump of trees sheltering the farmhouse, The Bage and then walk down the lane.
There is a small stream in the valley on the right and eventually you walk alongside this. Along the lane there are wild flowers and blackberries in season. Continue on to pass two or three houses on the left and a lane on the right. Here there is a way-mark on the left that shows the tump of the old border castle, Castle Twts.
4. Having walked round, continue alongside the fence on the left, steeply down to the stream. There is a hand-rail. Cross the footbridge and go up to the first of four kissing gates over the next half mile, as you go up and across the field. These kissing gates are the result of combined work by the Probation Service, Herefordshire Council, and the Open Spaces Society. Offenders maintain this part of the rights of way network as part of their community service, and thereby make a useful contribution to the community. As you go up and across the field look back at Hergest Court, which dates from 1267. It is one of the most important mediaeval sites in the Welsh Marches. In the 15th century it was described as the timber builded houses in stone towers of the Vaughans. The Red Book of Hergest, a manuscript of Welsh prose and poetry written about 1382 to 1410, bound in red leather, and now in the Bodleian Library, is associated with Hergest Court. There is also the legend of the demon death dog which belonged to Black Vaughan.
At the fourth gate the path leads down to enter Park Wood through the last kissing gate. These woods are part of the Hergest Croft estate and walkers are asked to stay on the right of way. This is a very beautiful area with an abundance and variety of trees and shrubs. If you are willing to put 1.50 into the honesty box you may wander off. Linger by the pond and sit on the benches to enjoy the calm. Follow the path and then keeping the cottage on the right, walk down to the cattle grid and up right to the lane. Along the lane there are many wild flowers. Eventually, by the white house with the number 31 in the wall, turn right to cross the stile and walk down the field to the next stile.
5. You come out on to a road, walk right, for about 30 yards, to the end of the row of houses and turn sharp left. With the wall on the left go on to the metal kissing gate and walk across the bottom of the field to the next kissing gate following the line of big trees across the playing fields of Lady Hawkins School, with the modern buildings of the High School on the left, to the next gate to come out into the recreation ground. After exiting through the commemorative gates walk towards the town centre with the primary school on the left and the car park on the right.
Before returning home, there are many interesting parts of the town to explore. This is a town that has many small shops and businesses. There are small lanes and alleys to be discovered and the architecture, when you raise your eyes above the shop fronts, gives an indication of the age of some of the buildings.
*Walk accurate as of July 2009
The Ramblers is the UKs largest walking charity. It promotes walking in the countryside, improves access to it, and protects the beauty of the countryside. In the UK The Ramblers has over 130,000 members organised in 54 areas and 450 local groups. In the Herefordshire area we have four groups: Hereford, Ross, Mortimer and Leadon Vale. We run a combined walks programme with about four walks every week. All are very welcome on our walks.
For more information about Herefordshire Ramblers ring Tom Fisher, tel: 01886 821544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org