4.5 miles, easy going.
Les Lumsdon and Martyn Evans
Gently lies the land of Marcle and Kempley so the walking is easy through pastoral farmland. In the first leg, nature seems to have been squeezed out, but from Kempley onwards the landscape is varied and wildlife more evident as you follow the Daffodil Way. This route was devised in the 1980s and is maintained by the Windcross Public Paths Project. The crowning glory, however, is a mid-way stop at Kempley’s old church, which may well look deceivingly plain from the outside, but inside provides a rare insight into the Norman medieval world. The walk starts at the entrance to Cwtch, a campsite with a range of unusual cabins located on the road from Much Marcle to Windcross. It finishes at Dymock, some 4.5 miles away on a route which includes field paths, back lanes and woodland tracks.
1. Ask the driver for Cwtch Cabins & Camping. There are no bus stops, but drivers know to set you down at the entrance to the site. With your back to the site, go right to walk along the road past two dwellings. Cross the road with care to climb a stile by a gate into a lush green pasture. Follow the hedge on the right to cross a second stile by a gate and left along the field boundary until you reach a stile on the left. This first part of the ramble is the Three Choirs Way, a long distance trail devised by Gerry Stewart in the 1990s to celebrate the countryside which inspired the Three Choirs Music Festival.
2. Go left over a double stile and proceed ahead through a number of fields sown with grass for silage making. Keep ahead over a footbridge and through a kissing gate. Go straight ahead again in a long field, offering a fine view of the wooded May Hill in the distance. To your left is Friar’s Court, a handsome hilltop farmstead; you might catch sight of a Grade II listed wooden barn, which at one time was used for threshing. Make your way through a gap in the hedgerow to cross a footbridge into the next field. Proceed through a gate ahead into an adjacent field, over a footbridge and left alongside a hedge to a second footbridge. Head slightly right towards church, over a third footbridge, then left to reach a stile by a gate leading onto a lane.
3. Turn left and then immediately right into the churchyard, by a line of yews to visit a seemingly unloved rural church. However, a surprise awaits as the interior walls of St Mary’s Kempley are covered with carefully restored mediaeval paintings which are of national importance. There’s also a timber framed roof dating from the 12th century. The church truly represents a style of Romanesque architecture delivered by the Dymock school of sculptors who worked on many churches in Herefordshire. Back on the lane turn right and follow this to rise up at first and then dip down to pass a dwelling on the left. As in the churchyard there’s a range of wild flowers-bluebells, cowslips and lady’s smock as well as a number of venerable oaks as you pass by. Go right after the house at the corner, through a kissing gate to follow the Daffodil Way to Dymock. Take the middle path running slightly left across the field, over a stile in the hedge and then slightly right over a footbridge above the Kempley brook. Head slightly left across the field (although most people use the field’s edge) and up the field edge to a kissing gate. Once through, head slightly right to the hedge corner and follow the hedge on the right to a footbridge. Cross it and go left by an old ruin and hidden pools. Continue ahead to enter Allums Grove, part wild wood, part coniferous plantation. At the first junction, go right and ahead at the next, and left at the third.
4. Exit at a kissing gate into a pasture but keep near to the wood as you venture back into it within 100 yards or so. The path cuts right then left to wind down to two footbridges over streamlets. Having crossed the footbridges head slightly right over the field, go over a stile in a fence, and onward in the same direction to a kissing gate and road. Go left along the lane passing houses on the right, but then look for a post box on the left and you are nearly ready to leave the lane.
5. Before the house go left through a gap by gates and follow the hedge on the right which leads into a traditional orchard. Keep near to the hedge on the right, but as the orchard tapers go through an old gate into the field next to it. The path heads slightly right with Allum Farm ahead on the right. Pass through the field gate and be sure to follow the path along a fence to a track. Go right to walk along it until you reach the road at Dymock.
6. Cross the road with care, and go right to walk along an old highway to reach a stile on the left. Once over, head slightly right over a footbridge and then slightly left with houses on the right. The path soon curves right to the rear of another St Mary’s church, Dymock. Take a look at the church, which houses a display about the Dymock Poets, prepared by the Friends of Dymock Poets. Next door to the church is the Beauchamp Arms which welcomes walkers. You may have to take off your boots if muddy, but it’s a price worth paying.
Explorer 189 Hereford & Ross-on-Wye
Travel to Cwtch from Ledbury, Newent, and Ross-on-Wye
Check Traveline:www.traveline.info or Buses4Us.org
This is a linear walk, so you’ll need to catch the bus back to your starting point. The bus back from Dymock to Cwtch or Ledbury is across the road from the green. The bus stop for Newent and Ross is by the village green.
Cwtch Cabins can provide tea or coffee and croissant before your walk, but it is essential to book in advance by phoning 07981 191961
If you are interested in staying there please see www.cwtchcabins.com
Beauchamp Arms, Dymock see www.thebeauchamparms.co.uk
Or phone 01531 590005 for opening times (closed Mondays)
Thanks go to the following groups…take a look at their websites:
Friends of Kempley Church https://www.kempleytardis.org.uk
Friends of the Dymock Poets https://www.dymockpoets.org.uk
The Daffodil Way see https://Windcrosspaths.org.uk