Through woodlands on tracks and pathways climbing to the ancient Chase Hill iron age hill fort with fine views to Goodrich Castle and the Wye Valley.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D) With the bridge and castle behind you, go right on a path parallel to the road, between a hedge and fence to pass the old Kerne Bridge railway station house and Bishopswood Village Hall to a barred gate leading into the car park. Once through the gate, go left along the end of the car park; this exits at a bus stop (for the 24/35 buses).
Kerne bridge replaced a centuries old ferry in 1828. The hamlet was originally known as ‘the Quern’. The bridge was built to carry coal from the Forest of Dean to Hereford, thus avoiding the longer, and more expensive, trek via Ross. It is said that in 1388 the Earl of Derby (future Henry IV) asked the ferryman about news from his home town of Monmouth. He was so elated to hear that his wife had given birth to a son (future Henry V) that he granted the ferryman a reward, the ownership of the ferry. This ownership stayed in the same family for centuries.
The bridge was a toll bridge until 1948, the tollgate was removed in the mid-1950s and the toll cottage demolished shortly afterwards. The remains of the base of the cottage can be seen if you look over the parapet at the Walford end of the bridge. Between the bridge and Goodrich Castle is Flanesford Priory. This Augustinian Priory is mentioned in the Domesday Book and was established in 1346 by Sir Richard John Talbot, Lord of Goodrich Castle. It is now a holiday apartment complex
(1) Cross the road and walk up the lane opposite the bus shelter. Within 15 yards, go left on a track between houses. At the top of the drive, go up steps, and climb up to a track. Go right, cross another drive and then keep ahead climbing on a path between hedges. On reaching a road go left. Pass between two houses and go left at a crossroads to descend on a track beneath tall trees. Continue downhill passing Cherry Tree Cottage on right. Just before meeting the road turn right and head back uphill following a concrete drive.
The Wye Valley Railway was surveyed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1851. The Ross to Monmouth line took eight years to construct, was 13 miles long and opened in 1873. The line closed to passenger traﬃc in 1959 and the section from Lower Lydbrook to Ross remained open for goods transport until 1965. Kerne Bridge Station House can still be seen by Kerne Bridge.
(2) Follow drive at ﬁrst then ahead into the wood, keeping ahead again at the junction of paths. Cross a drive and keep on the path which follows a line between the mixed woodland and the ﬁelds below through to Bull’s Hill. On reaching the road at Spring Herne, go left and then immediately right on a drive. Pass by Linden Lea to descend the garden, steeply in places, to steps and then cross three stiles in succession. Climb up the hillside and turn left over a stile. The path soon reaches a road. Cross over the road and follow the track (Bridleway) uphill. Ignore the steps going downhill opposite the building on the right. Keep ahead and follow the track around to the right of Meadow House. At the junction of tracks turn left and follow the track downwards. At the next cottage leave the track through a gate into a meadow. Cross the meadow, and follow the path right into woodland. After several stiles the path will reach the road at Coughton.
The old mill at Walford is thought to have been in existence for 260 years or more. It ground corn until the 1950s. The company moved into wood processing in the 1870s with some of the wood brought down the nearby slopes by horse or donkey and cart.
Agriculture has always played an important role in this part of the Wye Valley as the rich soils are ideal for mixed farming, including orchards. Even vineyards were grown in the area. Along the road is the Mill Race public house oﬀering locally sourced food and beverages.
(3) Go left on the road, and pass by Mill House on the left and the farm on the right. Cross the road at the corner. Go through a gap by a barred gate (buildings are on the right). Keep ahead through three more barred gates on a permissive path that rises away from the farm. Continue through a pasture to a fourth gate leading into Chase Wood. The path rises, steeply in places, to a junction of tracks. The ﬁnal challenging climb on the walk leads through Chase Wood up to Chase Hill Iron Age hillfort. Keep ahead and you will soon see the Iron Age rampart on the left.
Coughton Mill is said to have been ﬁrst built in the 12th century when Richard Talbot was granted the Manor of Coughton by King Richard 1st. A mill continued here in working condition until the early 1900s, and the building still remains as part of the farm complex.
(4) The descent from the summit follows the line of one of the many old roads from the Dean into Ross. Follow the track as it descends through woodland but, as this swings left, keep ahead by a forestry barrier. Hill Farm is to the right. Continue on a path through Merrivale Wood, with many mature sessile oak and ash trees, managed by Herefordshire Nature Trust. Keep right at the fork, go through the gate and proceed along a track with a fence to the right. Turn left before an oak tree, and then go through two gates. There’s a good view of Ross to the left including the tall spire of St Mary’s Church. Turn left in the ﬁeld to drop down to the bottom left corner. Go through a kissing gate and follow the track around to another kissing gate. Go through this and a third gate to exit on a road at Alton Court, seen on the left.
The single rampart of Chase Wood Hill fort is said to have been fully constructed and settled continuously in the 5th and 4th centuries although there were earlier camps on the site. This Iron Age monument can clearly be seen from the path. Please note there is no public access into the fort. The fort was not merely defensive but a major settlement and probably a trading centre.
(5) Continue along Penyard Lane to join Alton Street. Turn left and walk ahead until you turn right into Chase Road cross Gloucester Road and then turn right into Cantilupe Road and the bus stop. (A)
Alton Court is a ﬁne 17th century timber-framed building which is now the headquarters of PGL Travel Ltd. Peter Gordon Lawrence started the ﬁrst canoe trips down the Wye in 1957 and the ﬁrm now is one of the leaders in activity and adventure holidays.
The estate was closely associated with the medieval deer park which covered the ancient woods of Penyard, Chase and Merrivale. These were retained as hunting grounds by the Bishops of Hereford, possibly from the Bishop's Palace (where the Prospect and Royal Hotel now stand). They had hunting rights here,preying on wild boar and deer. After 1300, these woods were managed to provide timber too – for house and boat building and for fuel and fences. Wardens guarded against poachers, but in 1354 one gamekeeper turned poacher! The Bishop of Hereford’s warden, Walter Moton, was tried for carrying oﬀ’ an outrageous 1,300 deer! He also stole hundreds of hares, rabbits, partridge and pheasant from the ‘chace’ at Ross and spent time in the Fleet Prison as a result.
D : mi 0 - alt. 148ft - Kerne Bridge
1 : mi 0.82 - alt. 164ft - Wye Valley Railway
2 : mi 1.02 - alt. 213ft - Walford Sawmill
3 : mi 2.83 - alt. 240ft - Coughton Mill
4 : mi 3.4 - alt. 571ft
5 : mi 4.21 - alt. 197ft
A : mi 5.02 - alt. 141ft
(D) For those seeking refreshment, the Inn on the Wye is open daily and has accommodation.
This is a linear walk, following the Wye Valley Walk. It is best to catch the bus from Ross (Cantilupe Road) out to Kerne Bridge and then walk back. The 34 bus from Ross to Monmouth turns right to cross Kerne Bridge. Ask the driver to drop you just before the bridge. The 24 and 35 buses don’t cross Kerne Bridge and stop on the B4234 Lydbrook Road just past the Inn on the Wye. There are regular buses on Mondays-Saturdays and the 34 bus also runs on Sundays and Bank Holidays during the summer months. There are timetables available in Ross Library at Cantilupe Road or phone Traveline on 0871 200 22 33. Alternatively, for timetables log onto www.herefordshire.gov.uk
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The Wye Valley Walk between Kerne Bridge and Ross-on-Wye leads through woodland on tracks and pathways once used to access and extract timber for charcoal, the making of tools and for processing at the nearby Walford Sawmill. The historic village of Walford derives its name from Wales-ford, where the old road from Ross crossed the river into Wales, guarded by Goodrich Castle, about half a mile upstream from where Kerne Bridge is now. There are many old cottages along the route; these were both home and workplace for blacksmiths, carpenters, coppice workers and wheelwrights making good use of the natural resources of the area. When walking beneath the shade of the tall trees it is hard to believe that this tranquil place was once a hive of industry.
If you have time to spare in Ross on Wye there are lots of interesting buildings, cafés and independent shops to visit. Of particular note is the red sandstone Market Place, built in the 1650s and which now serves as a Visitor Information Centre and exhibition venue for Ross on Wye. Beside the Market House is the timbered house of John Kyrle, a famous benefactor of Ross. St Mary’s Church and the Prospect viewpoint (laid out by John Kyrle) are also close by.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.