Blow the cobwebs away on a thoroughly exhilarating pub walk, with a steep climb affording spectacular views over the Brecon Beacons and the Vale of Ewyas, and a ridge walk spanning the border between England and Wales. The route gravitates around Llanthony Priory, an awe-inspiring place to explore, particularly in winter when the low winter sun casts long shadows from the ruined stone archways. While most visitors enjoy the site from ground level, the real treat is seeing it from the hills above- so wrap up warm and prepare for a seriously steep hike.
Take the path to the left of the priory. Go through a gate and continue on steadily up the hill, bearing right. At the trail sign and stream go left, passing through a gate in a line of trees. Power up the hill, carrying on after a second gate towards the small wooded area ahead. When you reach the corner of the wood, climb over a stile and walk diagonally through the field to a line of trees. Follow the way marked signs up to Hatterall Hill. Topped with heather moorland, Hatterall Hill is an important habitat for raven and merlin. Most of this area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as the blanket mire, wet and dry heath, and bracken slopes support a variety of wildlife. It’s a great area for birdwatching, so look for buzzards, and search the moorland for pied wagtail, golden plover and cuckoo.
When the hills level out, look back for the outstanding views of the Vale of Ewyas and Llanthony Priory. On a clear day you can see as far as the Bristol Channel.
Follow the path over the brow of the hill. Continue past the first cairn, bearing right until you reach Offa’s Dyke, a wide footpath running along the highest point of the ridge. At this T-junction, turn right and follow the Offa’s Dyke national trail for 2 ½ miles. The national boundary runs along the length of this ridge and the land falls steeply away on either side- on your left lies England, on your right Wales. It’s a fascinating walk and the landscape on either side is extremely diverse, with Herefordshire’s patchwork of rolling hills and agricultural land in stark contrast to the rugged Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons to your right.
3 ½ MILES
When you reach a line of grouse butts, follow the Brecon Way footpath as it turns off sharply to the right on a far gentler descent into the valley. Take a left after 1 mile (you can see the priory to your left), passing through Wirral Wood. As you enter the wood bear right, and on the other side walk diagonally across the field and back to the pub for a warming meal in the cellar bar.
The Llanthony Priory Hotel is a 12th century pub attached to a ruined Augustinian church. The setting is stunning- it nestles in the crook of the Vale of Ewyas, with the Black Mountains on either side. Mind your head and descend into the atmospheric cellar bar for some hearty grub.
Llanthony Priory Hotel, Abergavenny, N97 7NN
Nov-Mar open weekends only. April-June and Sept-Oct open Tues-Sun, July-Aug open daily.
Mainly well marked footpaths through moorland. Very steep in sections. Check the local weather forecast before you set off.
GETTING THERE BY CAR
Llanthony Priory is 12 miles north of Abergavenny, via B4521, the A465 and a minor road signposted to Llanthony.
Ordnance Survey Map OL13
Grid ref: SO 288 278
Opening times as per the Llanthony Priory Hotel opening times.