Herefordshire Week 078: Tuesday 22 – Monday 28 June 2021

A week’s holiday at home. Should have been the Lakes with Val and Steffi.

Good:  Walks: Llanthony Priory & Hatterrall Ridge; Kingstone – Cockyard – Wormbridge footpaths.

Bad: Friday pub lunch al fresco fiasco.

Ugly: Sparrowhawk vs Woodpecker.

Llanthony Priory & Hatterrall Ridge circular walk: Vale of Ewyas and the Brecon Beacons, bordered by Hatterrall Hill south and north
Llanthony Priory & Hatterrall Ridge circular walk: Vale of Ewyas and the Brecon Beacons, bordered by Hatterrall Hill south and north

On Tuesday morning we drove to Llanthony Priory and did walk no. 7 “Up To The Border” in Kittiwake Books’ Walking in the Black Mountains, which entailed taking an easy(ish) diagonal route up onto Hatterrall Hill South, waking north along the ridge and then dropping down steeply back into the Vale of Ewyas and returning to Llantony. Smashing walk and excellent route description and directions in the book, so I’ll be doing more of those.

Llanthony Priory & Hatterrall Ridge circular walk: me and the Vale of Ewyas
Llanthony Priory & Hatterrall Ridge circular walk: me and the Vale of Ewyas

Also very satisfying to be able to orient ourselves in the Herefordshire landscape courtesy of the two new Poo Barns between Kerrys Gate and Bacton.

Back home for a late lunch, then pottered in the garden wheelbarrowing old yew tree logs from up by the swings into the garage and adding to the stack of logs ready for winter use (!).  With time to spare once I’d filled up the garage store, I headed out to do the Riverdale circuit.

Richard had come in the morning to strim the wooded slope and to cut down the wild plum sapling in the orchard and the remains of the much larger wild plum at mower turn which had been brought down by the winds, ivy and / or an adjacent tree.

Wednesday started with a leisurely breakfast out on the patio at the start of a scorcher of a day. Drove to Kingstone and left the car at the garage there together with a description of the creaky noise it’s started to make on accelerating (but only after you’ve been driving for a bit) and the rattle (most likely exhaust related).

I walked back on footpaths to Cockyard (almost), then seeing as I had the OS Green Map (Pathfinder Sheet 1040 – Hereford (South): Kingstone & Fownhope) with me, I decided to find the footpaths from Duffryn Farm’s old cider orchard to the main road at Wormbridge.

The route provided glorious views out along the valley of the river Monnow towards Abergavenny – Skirrid and Sugar Loaf looked splendid – and also lots of hay meadows, corn fields and stinging nettles. Heavy-going, so I rewarded myself with a Mr Frostee ice lolly from The Forge Garage – 30p well spent – before heading back homewards along the lanes.

Still keen to make the most of having the map with me, just past Camp Crossroads I ventured back onto the footpaths and back into meadows, cornfields and nettles – only to be foiled at the last field by the COWS at Quarrells Green. I backtracked a bit and took the footpath out to the road at Grange Farm and thence home, with one final stretch of footpath from Wellfield up to Canns Hill.

A good morning’s walk.

Lunch on the patio, having hauled some weed out of the large pond and cleared grass/weeds from around the Japanese Quince (ditto for Rhododendron after lunch).

An afternoon in the garden ticking off various jobs: moving the bigger bits of wood Richard had liberated yesterday to the first stop wood store (aka the quarry) – took a while as the mower turn logs were swathed in ivy which I decided to remove – plus a large broken branch that I spotted suspended above mower turn. Very dry, old, hawthorn, which I dragged to the quarry and trimmed. Going to need a bit of a bonfire soon. Wheelbarrowed the pond weed to the BBQ Yew Tree dump and then recycled some of the garden railway planks into a grass suppressing ring around the base of the greenhouse. Toads galore.

In the evening VWW and the last of the Big Birthdays!

Thursday dawned cloudy, cool and wet, so we postponed our plans for a pub lunch. First though I walked back to Kingstone to pick up the car – creaking reduced and rattle resolved. That’ll do. Spent the rest of the day doing admin, pottering, reading, finished sorting out the last of the outside log store pile and garden railway planks.

Friday was meant to feature the Holiday Highlight: our first trip to The Temple Bar Inn in Ewyas Harold for a pint and a pub lunch. Not just the first since COVID, but the first ever since we moved here in Jan 2020. Having walked over the Common, brimming with excitement and anticipation, we sat ourselves at an outside table and merrily worked our way through a pint. So far so good. But everything came to a crashing halt at 1pm when I tried to order food. Only two small groups there and it was going to be 2.15/2.30pm before they could serve us anything from the bar food menu.

So, so disappointing.

It took us all of Friday and Saturday to find our holiday happiness again.

One plus point: chatting with one of our neighbours on the walk down into Abbey Dore on the way there.

Saturday was cloudy and we kicked back in the conservatory reading, plus pottering and a bit of computer admin. Dad and Jean called in for tea and hot cross buns in the afternoon, enjoyed outside on the patio. Delayed pizza and film in the evening – Ant-Man was suitably undemanding – with fresh patio strawberries and ice cream for pudding.

Similarly overcast on Sunday. After a slow start to the day we did the Bacton Square, with another excellent neighbourly chat at Cann’s Hill. Resumed reading in the afternoon – I’m working my way through the LRB backlog before we go East to Essex for our Wivenhoe holiday and swop LRBs for NYRBs – and made a cake. Domestic Goddess I am not, but the vintage Be-Ro “For All Home-baking” recipe book keeps things simple and, usually, successful.

Monday morning brought unexpected excitement: A loud “bang” on the conservatory window, followed by a lot of squawking and flurries of wings at the far end of the conservatory…. and then a frantic fight between a Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk.

The Sparrowhawk won.


Afternoon jaunt to Simply Stunning in Wormelow to check out wooden flooring…. Mending. Tiffin. Tea.

TV: Better Call Saul (finishing off season 4 and starting season 5), Motherland (more of series 3) and Ant-Man.

Podcasts: Bit of a mishmash this week. I tried out three new series picked up from The Guardian’s The best podcasts of 2021 so farCall Me Mother (yes), Death at the Wing (no), The Missing (no) – and some old favourites: The History of England, History Extra, The Allusionist, Books and Authors, You Must Remember This , Shedunnit, The Anthropocene Reviewed and In Our Time.

Photos: Herefordshire week 78 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-06-27.