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Backbury Hill and Mordiford

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Backbury Hill and Mordiford
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 05 Aug 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Herefordshire, Wye Valley
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Backbury Hill and Mordiford
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4 mile circular walk around the northern part of the Wye Valley taking in Backbury Hill, the pretty Pentaloe Brook and the village of Mordiford. A beautifully varied route with sections of woodland, pastures, village lanes, meadows and old tracks, you will be rewarded with glorious views throughout. Mordiford is best known for the legend of its dragon which was said to drink from the confluence of the Rivers Lugg and Wye and you will see a dragon symbol on many of the waymarks along the way.

The route has several climbs and descents throughout including one fairly steep ascent. The paths can be very muddy after periods of rain and can be overgrown in summer so good boots and long trousers are a must. You will need to negotiate six stiles, some of which are fairly tall for humans but all of which have gaps underneath that medium dogs should be able to pass through. There are also several gates along the way and one flight of steps. Whilst the majority of the paths are through woodland or along enclosed tracks, you will need to pass through some pastures which may be holding sheep and/or cattle. You will also be sharing the paths with lots of game birds. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the Swardon Quarry Picnic Site car park, a stone lay-by area close to Whitehall Road. Leave Mordiford heading north along Dormington Road. Turn right along the small side road (opposite Larport Lane) marked for Checkley and with a brown picnic place sign. Follow the lane as it bends hard left and then keep right at the fork, still on the main lane. Turn right at the T-junction and you will find the picnic area car park (marked with a small brown sign) some way along, on the right-hand side, just before a sharp left-hand bend. Nearest post code is HR1 4EJ, but this will only take you to one of the lanes nearby, not to the car park itself.

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Walk Sections

Start to First Field Gate
Start to First Field Gate

Start point: 52.0437 lat, -2.6167 long
End point: 52.0459 lat, -2.5992 long

From the picnic area car park, turn right along the road and follow this as it begins to swing hard left. After just a few paces turn right onto the wide stone track. A few yards along, just before the wide metal gate, turn left onto the narrow public footpath signed for Mordiford Loop. Follow this narrow rocky path through the trees and at the junction, keep ahead on the path signed to Checkley.

The path will lead you back out to the tarmac road. Keep right along this, taking care of any occasional traffic. After just a few yards, fork left onto the stone track bridleway signed again for the Mordiford Loop. At the fork, keep left and follow the narrower path still climbing up Backbury Hill. Towards the top of the slope, you will see a waymark post on the left. Keep ahead for a few paces to reach a fork, then take the right-hand branch (a relatively level path).

Keep ahead on the obvious main path for some distance which eventually swings left and begins to descend. The path will lead you to a T-junction with a stone vehicle track. Turn left along this, continuing downhill. At the next T-junction turn right. As you draw level with a wooden clad property on the right, you will see a small metal gate on the left. Take this gate into the field.

First Field Gate to Stone Bridge
First Field Gate to Stone Bridge

Start point: 52.0459 lat, -2.5992 long
End point: 52.0403 lat, -2.5981 long

Walk straight ahead across this first field to reach the tree line at the far side. Go down the slope within the tree line, using the handrail for safety as this section is quite steep. Pass through the next field via the two gates, heading for the radio mast visible on the hillside ahead. Continue in the same direction through the third field, passing a large orchard across to the right. At the far end of the field you will pass to the right of a large cream half-timbered property before swinging right and crossing a stile to reach the road.

Turn left along the road, taking care of any occasional traffic. Where the road swings hard left, turn right onto the signed public footpath with a stream running to the left. At the end of the path you will see a choice of two paths, take the right branch passing through the single metal gate. Continue on the path with the stream still running on the left.

Cross the stile ahead and continue along the left-hand edge of the field, still following the stream. Continue in the same direction through the next field (via a stile at each end) and you will emerge to a stone vehicle track. Do NOT take the stile opposite, instead turn left along the track. The track will lead you left across a stone bridge over a large stream.

Stone Bridge to Old Cottage
Stone Bridge to Old Cottage

Start point: 52.0403 lat, -2.5981 long
End point: 52.0335 lat, -2.6104 long

Immediately after this bridge, fork right onto the signed footpath into the trees. Follow the narrow path climbing steadily through the woodland. Keep right at the fork and follow the path winding through the pretty section of beech trees. You will emerge to a stile which leads you into a large open rough pasture.

Cross the pasture at about 11 o’clock, climbing uphill. A stile at the far side leads you back into woodland. The path swings sharp right and you will emerge to the corner of a stone vehicle track. Turn right along this, following it downhill.

At the bottom of the slope the track opens into a small clearing. Keep straight ahead onto the stone track which climbs steadily, with the pretty Pentaloe Brook running down on the right. A little way along, look out for waymark post on the right, marked with a number 7. Turn right here onto the narrow path downhill. As you emerge from the undergrowth you will find yourself alongside an old derelict half-timbered cottage on the right.

Old Cottage to Lower Rock Cottage
Old Cottage to Lower Rock Cottage

Start point: 52.0335 lat, -2.6104 long
End point: 52.0327 lat, -2.6229 long

Pass through the single wooden gate ahead and bear right, following the fence on the right. As you reach the concrete bridge over the stream, turn left along the stone and grass vehicle track. Follow the track as it bends right with a field opening up on the right. A little further along you will see a waymark post on the right. Fork right here across the field to reach the treeline and follow the path (with the trees on the right). You will reach a kissing gate at the right-hand edge of the properties visible ahead.

Go through the gate and follow the narrow path between tall garden fences to reach the residential road. Turn right along Pentaloe Close and, where the road ends, keep ahead to join a paved footpath into trees, passing to the left of a small water treatment station. You will emerge out to the main village road in Mordiford opposite Mill Leat. There has been a mill at Mordiford since Saxon times. It milled corn and later milled feed for stock. It was closed in 1935 but has been recently restored.

Turn right (passing The Spout of the old mill on the right) and continue past a pretty row of terraced cottages on the right. Keep ahead passing a stone weir outside The Steppes cottage. Continue along the road (taking care as there is no pavement on this stretch) with the stream now on the left. Just before the pavement begins again, turn sharp right onto the signed public footpath, a tarmac lane heading steeply uphill past Lower Rock Cottage on the right.

Lower Rock Cottage to End
Lower Rock Cottage to End

Start point: 52.0327 lat, -2.6229 long
End point: 52.0437 lat, -2.6168 long

Follow the track past Rock Cottage also on the right and, as you reach a wide gate ahead, turn left up the short flight of steps to join a narrow footpath in the trees. Take care on the first stretch of this path as it is fairly steep, uneven with rocks and can be slippery when wet. The narrow path begins to level off, crosses a small vehicle track and leads you to a small metal gate.

Pass through this gate into the corner of a large open pasture. Walk straight ahead, passing under the power lines and head uphill, following the hedge line on the right. As you continue to climb, take time to enjoy the expansive views which have opened up to the left (a just reward for your efforts in the climb). At the top of the slope, pass through the wide metal gate ahead and continue with the fence now on the left.

Pass through the next wide metal gate ahead to join a wide grass track between hedgerows. You will emerge from the track into an open clearing and it is worth taking a moment here to enjoy the patchwork of woodland slopes visible to the right. Keep straight ahead and pass through the next wide metal gate to join a grass path between areas of crops. If the crops are not too tall you will have great views again over to the left.

At the end of the field, keep straight ahead through the single metal gate to reach a signed junction of paths. You may recognise this from your outward leg and from this point you will be retracing your steps back to the car park. Turn left, signed for Swardon Quarry and follow the narrow path down to reach a vehicle track. Turn right for a few paces to reach the road and then turn left along the road edge to reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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