The old trackway from Llanfihangel Rhydieithon to Llanfihangel Nant Melan is a short day’s walk and not too difficult once you have climbed the ridge.
Cross the A488 about 1 km east of the village at SO 15987 67324 and bear left up a minor road. After about 1 km, at SO 16875 67256 take the waymarked footpath which bears right across the moor.
At SO 17240 67079 the footpath crosses a green lane. Keep straight on, on a less well-marked track, towards the woods.
At SO 17422 66851 bear right and walk along the western edge of the forest. When the track bears right, continue along the forest edge — this is the line of the bridleway.
At SO 17740 65814 the bridleway enters the forest and joins a forest track. At SO 17775 65776 the track divides. Take the left fork and continue for about I km.
At SO 18540 65016 take the track to the right. Follow this out of the forest (at SO 18322 64539). The track contours round the head of a small valley.
At SO 16480 63676 turn left on the main track along the ridge. (Along the track to your right is a cross-ridge dyke — suggesting that we are on an early medieval route, if not a prehistoric one.)
After the ford on the Mithil, at SO 17320 61894, the track divides. Both are clearly old routes, as they are marked with parallel hollow trails. Bear left, go through the gate ahead of you and bear gently left across the maze of paths through the bracken to join a track at SO 17472 61756, to the left of Cwm-du.
At SO 17535 61234, go through a horse gate and along a forest road through recently-planted conifers. This leads into the old track down past the Warren House. Follow the track to the left of the house and into the trees, then turn right down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, it is worth following the signpost to the right and walking back up the Black Brook to the waterfall at Water-break-its-neck. According to local tradition, this was one of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s hideouts during the final struggle for Welsh independence. The waterfall is not as spectacular as its name suggests, but after a wet summer it is well worth seeing. More on this area on the Presteigne.com web site.
Return to the main track and follow it down to the car park, but take the waymarked bridle path to the right of the car park and walk down to the road at SO 19367 59191. The A44 is a very busy road and the mile to Llanfihangel Nant Melan is extremely unpleasant. There is however an alternative.
Walk straight across the road and take the track down to the bridge across the Summergill Brook and up the other side. At SO 19552 59084 go right on the bridle path above Maesmelan. Follow the field edge uphill. At the gate at the top (SO 18362 57965), turn down to the right along the track to Lower House Farm. The track goes through the farm yard to the main road.
The route south from Llanfihangel Nant Melan goes back along this track, left through the farmyard, across two streams and up the long slope. At SO 18362 57965 turn right and walk uphill along the hedge and past a small copse of trees. Go through another gate.
At SO 18882 57641, cross a farm track and follow the hollow trail across the field ahead of you. This is obviously the old ridge route to the south but it is no longer used as a track at this point and the line of the hollow trail has been blocked by a fence.
Bear up to the left. At SO 18775 57286 go through the gate to the right at the top of the field. Walk through the sheep pens and past the Llanwentre Pool. A green way now leads across the open moorland. The gates are simply but effectively waymarked with red and yellow insulating tape. The field to your left, above the Cwm-y-bont valley, is an upland settlement site with at least two house platforms and a number of pillow mounds (artificial rabbit warrens). Walk down the slope past the ruins of Black Yatt and a small plantation of trees, and across the ford.
At SO 18012 56089 the path divides. Take the left fork and walk just west of south through some disturbed ground.
At SO 17757 54776 a stony track (not waymarked in 2013) goes right, just before a wooden chalet called Little Ceste. Follow the track behind the chalet. At SO 17712 54809 take the waymarked bridleway through the gate to the left (waymark on the gatepost may be obscured). Follow the hedge and through another waymarked gate at SO 17637 54719. The path becomes a rough farm track following the hedge to the right. The track ceases but the bridleway continues along the edge of the fields and through a gate to the open moorland. Here you have to ignore paths to the left and right and carry straight on across the moorland.
At SO 16260 54211 bear left along the fence above Lower Cwm-twrch farm. Follow the path down to cross a farm track at SO 15970 53589 and up to Glascwm. To this point the path has been quite well waymarked but from here on you may have to rely on the map (or GPS).
At SO 15560 53091, opposite Glascwm church, just before the house called The Yat, a path (not waymarked in 2013) goes left into the trees and through a gate. Follow the hedge to your right. At SO 15560 53091, when the hedge bears right and down hill, follow the path up to your left and over the shoulder of Glascwm Hill. Ignore tracks to your right and left (they are for the shooting). When the path forks at SO 15082 51789, just before the head of Cwm-mawr, take the right fork, round the head of the dingle and up to cross the ridge.
The path gets a bit vague on top of the ridge but keep going south and you will pick it up. Cross the track along the ridge of Cefn Wylfre at SO 14870 51061. At SO 14882 50859 bear left towards ‘Doctor’s Pool’ (no more than a boggy patch in dry weather). Cross the stony track and continue on the path south, along the edge of the open access land. At SO 14837 49939 bear left away from the fence and continue south. At SO 14855 49774, on the top of the ridge and just before the boundary stone (marked W. de W. / Sir J. B. B. 1882), the path forks again. Take the left fork and walk down hill.
|Llanfihangel Rhydieithon to Hay-on-Wye
At SO 15025 49611 the line of the right of way goes across the fields and through the farmyard at Hondon but it’s probably better to turn right and follow the path round the edge of the moorland to join the track (technically a yellow road) at SO 15332 49091. Follow the minor road for about a mile, past Hondon and The Pant. Just after The Pant, at SO 16372 48939, take the lane to the right (this is not the right of way, but it is preferable to the public byway which goes through the farmyard and garden of Llettypeod). Follow the lane up to a gate into open access land at SO 16360 48859. Turn left and follow the path around the edge of the moor. In about 0.25 km at SO 16582 48694 you join the track from Llettypeod. Follow it along the moor edge up a steep climb and into the trees.
At SO 16615 48536, go through a gate and bear right with the path. This becomes a stony track from North farm. At SO 16477 48063 bear left with the track along the open moor. At SO 16482 48196 five tracks meet. Keep straighton, slightly east of south. Cross the ford at SO 16482 48196. Follow the track over the shoulder of Llanbedr Hill and down along the moor edge. At SO 16375 46946 turn left on the metalled road and walk down to Painscastle.
Painscastle has a pub, a phone box and occasional buses. It was in 2013 a waymark-free zone but the route across the fields to the south of the village is clear and easy to follow. Take the road signposted Clyro. At the bottom of the hill, at SO 16842 45964, where the road bears to the right, take the metalled lane to the left. Follow the track past Tre-wyrlod Farm and over the footbridge by the ford. Bear right away from the stream across the next field.
At SO 17142 45691 there are two gates ahead of you: take the one to the right and follow the hedge to your left up the field. At SO 17207 45526 go through the gate at the top and into the field to the left then bear diagonally to the left across that field. At SO 17352 45224 go through the gate to the road. Do not go through the gate straight ahead of you but turn left and take the next gate to the right in a few metres (SO 17392 45201). Bear left across the field and go through the gate at the top left (SO 17435 44789). Do not follow the tracks to left and right but go along the faint path up the slope and through the bracken. At SO 17462 44706 turn left on the stony track from Yr Allt and follow it round to the edge of the moor. At SO 17772 44416 two tracks go left and two go right, but keep to the central stony track over the ridge. At SO 18062 44191, just before the cottage at Penyrheol the track divides. Take the right fork down to the metalled road at SO 18177 44156, turn right then immediately left on a green lane. Follow this lane for about 2 km. After Lane Cottage the lane becomes a metalled road. At SO 18577 42926, when the metalled road turns left, take the green lane straight on.
After Dolybongham the track bears to the right. This is where it gets difficult. A waymarked signpost at SO 18650 42314 indicates a footpath to the left across a stile. The footpath goes left across the field and through a gate into the woods, but in 2013 the path was overgrown and impassable. Under the circumstances you are legally allowed to walk along the hedge to your left and through the gateway at the far left corner of the field. You can then keep the line of the hedge to your right and walk along the slope above the hedge. At the far right corner of the field, climb the wooden fence and you are back on the footpath. Go over the stile. The path should go straight on through the woods – but again there is no road through the woods. Climb up to your left and walk along the edge of the field. Before the next hedge you will have to scramble down the slope through the trees, go through a very rickety gate at the bottom and across the stream at SO 18902 42381. (There are waymarks on the gatepost but it leans so drunkenly that they offer little guidance.) Follow the faint path to your right and look out for a very overgrown path up to your left through the bracken.
The public footpath should go up the hedge to your left but it is completely overgrown. In 2013 there was a permissive right of way which had been cleared across the field. When you get above the first patch of bracken, bear right and follow the path which winds through the gorse and bramble, contouring round the field to a gate at about SO 191 421. Go through the gate and continue straight ahead around the contour, keeping parallel with the hedge to your right. At SO 19592 42141 turn right through the gate in the far right corner of the long field. Walk along the hedge to your left for a few yards and cross the waymarked stile to your left. You are now on a well waymarked path which is promoted as a high-level alternative to the on-road section of the Wye Valley Walk.
Follow the waymarked path along the field edge and below Briwnant Farm. At SO 19895 42501 turn right and walk down the slope between two stands of trees. Cross the A438 at SO 20612 42454 and follow the path along the field edge to the river. Turn left and follow the Wye Valley Walk to the road above Hay Bridge.
If the path through the field after SO 18902 42381 has not been kept clear, there is another track down the stream to the village of Llowes. Here you pick up the low-level Wye Valley Walk. Unfortunately you have about 1 km along the busy A438 before the Walk bears right away from the road to join the high-level route down from Briwnant Farm.