Looking up the Hoddni valley

Hay-on-Wye to Llanthony

37 km.

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.

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. Lots of photos of Capel-y-ffin and the route south at https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/angels-and-visions/ and https://cistercianway.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/visions-and-revisions/ .





Just south of the churchyard, at SO 25483 31495, take the lane to the right, across the Hoddni and past another tiny church. This is Capel-y-ffin Baptist chapel built by the two brothers, William and David Prosser. According to Wikipedia, ‘a wall plaque commemorates their work in bringing The Ministry of the Gospel to their house in the year 1737. And Secured this Place for That Sacred Use for the Time Being. Both died near the End of the Year 1780.’

The lane bears up to the right, passing above Blaenau farm and becomes a path across the fields. It is well waymarked as a route up to the Offa’s Dyke path. Cross three pretty stone stiles (the last at SO 26068 31171  is a bit of a challenge) and continue on the same line along a stony track. The farm above you at SO 26521 31032  is called The Vision, and was given that name after the famous vision of the Virgin Mary at Father Ignatius’s monastery. The farm inspired Bruce Chatwin’s novel On the Black Hill, though he relocated it to the other side of the Hatterall ridge.

At SO 26701 30804 the track becomes a metalled road. At SO 27545 29796 a footpath is waymarked to the left past Trevelog and  Deri-duon. It is just about walkable in dry weather, but there are several deep stream valleys cutting across the path, with dangerously steep and muddy banks. There are also some heavily overgrown sections. Stay on the road - it is very quiet, little more than a farm track, and an easy walk. After about 1.8 km, at SO 27735 29421 , the road turns to the right. Go through the gate ahead of you and continue along a narrow lane. This has all the feel of an old road, possibly the original road down the valley. It would be too narrow for carts, so once the local farmers took to using wheeled vehicles the road across the valley would be easier.

At SO 27798 29059, go through the gate to your left. This isn't waymarked but it is a right of way. Walk along the hedge to your right then pass below Llwyn-on, turn up to your left and keep contouring round on the same line past SO 27997 28789 and SO 28099 28639. Pass above Broadley Farm and keep on the same line past SO 28292 28423. At SO 28415 28343 cross a stile by a gate. Walk along the lower edge of the woods and ford a small stream. Cross a stile out of the woods at SO 28482 28271 and bear right across the next field, past the new barns to rejoin the road down the valley at SO 28498 28092.

At SO 28560 27946 you turn left on the main road down the valley (usually a quiet lane, though it can be busy on summer weekends) with encouraging views of the priory and the Half-Moon pub. Ahead of you is the priory gatehouse, now a barn. When the road bears right round the gatehouse, take the footpath straight on to the rest of the priory buildings.


Hay-on-Wye to Llanthony

Places to visit along this route


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