Picturesque Piercefield

Follow in the footsteps of the Wye Tourists and discover the picturesque viewpoints of Piercefield Park. These walks take you across the Piercefield Estate, retracing the paths laid out in the 1750s by Valentine Morris, the owner of Piercefield.

Technical sheet
No. 3511327
A Chepstow walk posted on 03/07/20 by Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Update : 23/06/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h10[?]
Distance Distance : 8.58mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1378ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1362ft
Highest point Highest point : 728ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 92ft
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Chepstow
Starting point Starting point : N 51.64339° / W 2.675896°
Download : -

Description

(D/A) From Chepstow Castle, follow the Wye Valley Walk to Chepstow Leisure Centre, where the route leaves the back of the car park and runs beside the school. Then walk through a gap in the wall.

(1) Turn right and continue down the path and steps. Continue along the Wye Valley Walk through shady woods, following in the footsteps of countless visitors to Piercefield. Continue on the Wye Valley Walk, keeping right at the fork, eventually passing the remains of an Iron Age Hillfort on the left, before reaching The Grotto. (A)

(2) Continue on the Wye Valley Walk past an upright stone, before walking along a ridge, with a steep drop to the Wye on your right. Look left for the remains of an elevated viewing platform above you. With views to both the Severn and Wye, it became known as The Double View. (B)

(3) When the path splits keep right. Continue until reaching a standing stone (C) in the track.

(4) There are steep drops to the right along the next section. Pass the entrance to a small cave on the left. Soon after when the track forks take, the right hand fork downhill.

(5) Walk through the cave (D) and keep right along the Wye Valley Walk. Continue for some distance until crossing a small stream. Keep on the Wye Valley Walk through oak and beech woods and up a number of steps until you arrive at the main road.

(6) Cross the main road with care and pass the metal barrier to a level area in front of the quarried cliff. Take the path to your left (not to the right which leads up the very steep 365 steps). Take the first turning right up to the Upper Wyndcliff (E) car park.

(7) Take the footpath on the left of the car park uphill. Continue uphill to the second bench. After 100m take the next path on the right which leads down some steps to the Eagle’s Nest.

(8) Retrace your route up the steps. Turn left and walk as far as the bench on the left. Take the track on the left which leads down the 365 steps. Take care as you descend. Continue down to the road and the car park (6), from where you can catch the bus back to Chepstow. (The stop is ‘Moss Cottage’). To return on foot, take the Wye Valley Walk on the far right of the car park and retrace your tracks to the Giant’s Cave (5). After the cave, turn right uphill. Continue with the racecourse on the left to the Lover's Leap viewpoint on the right. (F)

(9) To return by bus from St Arvans (No 69) take the footpath to the left of Temple Doors through the kissing gate onto the racecourse fields.(Do not go through Temple Doors onto the main road.) Follow this downhill skirting the trees and stone wall on your right. Go through a kissing gate on the right, and keep straight on, coming out onto the main road. Cross the road and walk to the left on the roadside footpath to the bus stop at the Piercefield Inn. Alternatively, to return on foot from Temple Doors retrace your route back towards Chepstow, with the racecourse on your right.

Back at the junction with the main path turn right (Giant's Cave is to your left). Continue along the main path past the stones of the Druid’s Temple (4) until reaching a marker post at a junction on the right. Take this path, go over a stile and turn right following the fence, emerging into the Capability Brown parkland setting of Piercefield Park. (G)

(10) Walk in front of the house (H), which has been in ruins since the 1920’s, and then head diagonally left passing the old stables to the right.

(11) Turn left and keep the racecourse (I) to your right. Go through a kissing gate and stay on the track. Keep the wall to your left then fork left, passing through a stone arch to the road and back to Chepstow Castle. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 95ft - Chepstow Castle
1 : mi 0.46 - alt. 253ft - Path and steps
2 : mi 1.75 - alt. 282ft - Grotto
3 : mi 2.01 - alt. 302ft - The Double View
4 : mi 2.28 - alt. 338ft - The Druid’s Temple
5 : mi 2.51 - alt. 299ft - The Giant’s Cave
6 : mi 3.22 - alt. 436ft - Lower Wyndcliff car park
7 : mi 3.4 - alt. 515ft - Upper Wyndcliff car park
8 : mi 3.9 - alt. 725ft - The Eagle’s Nest
9 : mi 5.52 - alt. 413ft - Temple Doors
10 : mi 7.05 - alt. 315ft - Piercefield House and old stables
11 : mi 7.14 - alt. 328ft - Racecourse
D/A : mi 8.58 - alt. 92ft - Chepstow Castle

Useful Information

There are some steep drops along sections of this walk.

Alternate start :
Chepstow Leisure Centre, Lower Wyndcliff car park (6) or Upper Wyndcliff car park (7)
Why not take the No. 69 bus to the Piercefield Inn, St Arvans or go on to Lower Wyndcliff / Moss Cottage (request stop) and walk back to Chepstow through the Piercefield Estate ?

More information at The Wye Valley AONB here.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

(A) It was the height of fashion to have a grotto. This one was lined with quartz crystals, iron cinders and copper. You may spot a few surviving pieces. Laurel hedges and two lime trees framed the view, Although there is only a hint of it today, 200 years ago this was a spectacular view of grand distances, taking in much of Gloucestershire beyond the Severn.

(B) Such varied beauty uniting in the same scene is probably unique in this kingdom’, wrote Charles Heath of the Double View in 1793. Today the view to the Wye is largely obscured by trees.

(C) These stones are all that remain of an amphitheatre called the Druid’s Temple.

(D) The Giant’s Cave is one of the most dramatic features on the walk, with a viewing platform built into the rockface by the entrance to the cave. The cave is not natural, but was hewn out of the rock. Opposite the cave are bow railings with a seat, which if we may compare the works of nature with those of art, may be called a front box, of one of the completest theatres in the universe.(Stebbing Shaw, 1788). Imagine arriving from the other direction, emerging from the cave to this view. Engineered to surprise, it was all part of the Piercefield experience. A visitor in 1781 advised to, ‘Carry some gunpowder and leave it with Mr Morris’s gardener in order to fire some small cannon on the Rock as you pass by. The reverberating echo of which you will find has a wonderful effect.’ At one time a stone giant stood above the cave entrance. He held a huge boulder over his head, as if about to hurl it on the walkers below. The giant and his boulder suffered from frost damage and slowly crumbled away.

(E) In the 18th century Wye tourists alighted from their boats in Martridge Meadow and walked up to the Wyndcliff. William Gilpin wrote that, '....the tide being at ebb, we landed with some difficulty on an oozy beach. One of our bargemen, who knew the place, served as a guide; and under his conduct we climbed the steep by an easy regular zig-zag.’ ''
''In the 1820s the new turnpike road made it easier for visitors to arrive by carriage from Chepstow, rather than by boat from Ross. With the introduction of regular steam packet services from Bristol to Chepstow the number of visitors increased dramatically. Before long a romantic thatched cottage opened to provide refreshments for the travellers: ’a fanciful little habitation, called the Moss Cottage…….built by the Duke of Beaufort, for the accommodation of parties visiting Wyndcliff, to the summit of which eminence, several paths lead through the rocks and underwood’.

(F) The Eagle’s Nest was a double decker viewing platform perched on the edge of the cliff. This site was restored in 2010 and access to the lower deck removed as it had become unsafe. Much of the stonework has been reused in the restoration of the upper deck. Can you spot the Victorian graffiti? ‘This cliff is the last grand scene of the Piercefield drama. It is not only magnificent, but so novel, that it excites an involuntary start of astonishment; and so sublime, that it elevates the mind into instantaneous rapture.’

(G) Before the turnpike road was opened most visitors would have arrived from the Wyndcliff through these gates. There was an octagonal structure and viewpoint called the Temple here, demolished around 1800. Coxe described this section of the route in 1801; ‘From the Lover’s Leap the walk is carried through a thick mantle of forests, with occasional openings, which seem not the result of art or design, but the effect of chance or nature, and seats placed where the spectator may repose and view at leisure the scenery above, beneath, and around.'

(H) This house dates from after Valentine’s death. George Smith commissioned one of the leading architects of the day, Sir John Soane, to redesign Piercefield. A later owner of Piercefield, Mark Wood, added a curving portico (now lost) and the flanking pavilions, designed by Joseph Bonomi.

(I) These were the stables for Piercefield House. During the Second World War the racecourse was requisitioned. Lancaster bombers were assembled here and parked under the trees, before being flown to Bristol. Despite stretching from St Arvans to the Lion's Lodge the grass runway was too short; aircraft were stripped to the essentials with only enough fuel to get across the Severn to Filton! What remained of Piercefield House was used for training prior to the D Day landings. Look closely and you might just spot some bullet holes in this proud ruin.

Opinions and comments

Average

Global average : 4.44/5
Number of opinions : 3
Description quality : 4.67/5
Routemap quality : 4.33/5
Walk interest : 4.33/5


Walker
on Thu 16 Dec 2021 21:14:03 CET

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 16/12/21
Description quality : Very good
Easiness to follow the route : Good
Walk interest : Good

This is a lovely walk and the description was very accurate so that the route was easy to follow. The views from the Eagles Nest are stunning. I made the distance of the walk 7.65 miles where the walk details showed it as 8.5 miles. The walk took us four hours exactly. We started from Chepstow Castle. Although it is not a long walk my legs knew they'd been for a walk!

A lovely day out and the weather was quite warm for December.


Walker
on Mon 14 Jun 2021 13:19:01 CEST

Global average : 4.67 / 5

Date of walk : 01/06/21
Description quality : Very good
Easiness to follow the route : Good
Walk interest : Very good

We chose a hot day for this walk as it is largely in woods, which was perfect. Sadly you can't see much of the views that the tourists of times gone by saw, because of the trees, but that's a good thing for nature! The little snippets of history in the description were great. Finally getting a fantastic view at the furtherst point was worth the wait! Great walk - thank you!


Walker
on Mon 03 Aug 2020 09:55:45 CEST

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 03/08/20
Description quality : Good
Easiness to follow the route : Very good
Walk interest : Good

Unfortunately did walk when there was a running race on this route at the same time. Spoilt the walk but will have to do it again.

Other walks in the area

AONB
distance 6.08mi Vertical gain +709ft Vertical drop -712ft Durée 3h25 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Chepstow - Monmouthshire

Follow the path above limestone cliffs where peregrines nest, to the lost medieval village of Lancaut and the ruins of St James’ church.

AONB
distance 10.84mi Vertical gain +1516ft Vertical drop -1539ft Durée 6h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Devauden - Monmouthshire

The route is a mixture of green lanes, forestry tracks and tarmac lanes. There are steep uphill climbs out of Tintern on either side of the Angidy Valley. The route is way-marked. Look out for these along the way. Numbers on the map relate to numbers in the text. You can start at any point and go in either direction (these directions follow a clockwise route). This route links up with the northern Wye Valley trail, Whitestone, Whitebrook and the Wye.

AONB
distance 3.84mi Vertical gain +525ft Vertical drop -531ft Durée 2h15 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Tintern - Monmouthshire

Follow the Angidy Trail and discover Tintern’s hidden industry – the furnace, forge and wireworks, the workers’ cottages, limekilns, tidal dock and church where generations of metal workers were baptised, married and buried.

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 3.82mi Vertical gain +397ft Vertical drop -400ft Durée 2h05 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Tintern - Monmouthshire

Woodland walking and industrial heritage on a walk with several options for short-cuts.

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 5.72mi Vertical gain +823ft Vertical drop -814ft Durée 3h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Tintern - Monmouthshire

Outward along an old tramway, with a high- level return offering fabulous views.

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 3.1mi Vertical gain +197ft Vertical drop -194ft Durée 1h35 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Tintern - Monmouthshire

Along and across the Wye to a historic English village, returning via woodland.

AONB
distance 2.33mi Vertical gain +69ft Vertical drop -66ft Durée 1h10 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Tintern - Monmouthshire

A figure of eight walk centred on the delightful village of Brockweir. The walk is mainly level along the Wye Valley on old railway tracks, the riverbank and minor roads, part in Wales and part in Gloucestershire.

Walker
distance 5.09mi Vertical gain +118ft Vertical drop -118ft Durée 2h25 Easy Easy
Starting point Starting point in Oldbury-upon-Severn - South Gloucestershire

An easy Gloucestershire walk that takes you along the Severn Estuary. The walk uses paths and lanes including sections of the Severn Way and Jubliee Way.

For more walks, use our search engine.

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.