Thursday, 7 October 2010

Lan Fawr, Mitchell’s Fold & Marrington Dingle – approx 11.75 miles

Saturday 2nd October 2010


OS Explorer OL216 Welshpool & Montgomery


Todleth – Old Churchstoke – Cowlton – Lan Fawr – Mitchell’s Fold – Weston House Farm – Lower Ridge – Whittery Wood – Marrington Dingle – A490 – Alport – The Rock – Old Churchstoke - Todleth


A nice Autumn morning, gradually clouding over into the afternoon. Quite warm but with a cool breeze.

After a month of various celebrations and a very wet week, a good day had been forecast for this Saturday so we took the opportunity to get a decent walk in and chose the area to the north and east of Churchstoke. We started by walking along the lane that skirts the western side of Todleth Hill to reach Old Churchstoke with views across to Montgomery and the Vale of Kerry already in evidence. A short way along the road to Hyssington, below Roundton Hill, a lane branches off taking a rising line to the east of north. Passing the house at Cowlton the lane dissolved into a track across the hillside, from where we could see across the valley to the Kerry Ridgeway behind us.

The track continued to rise steadily towards the pass between Lan Fawr and Corndon Hill, with the hills of Snowdonia coming into view on the skyline to the west. Just beyond a gate we crossed into Access Land and branched off left to take in the small, knobbly summit of Lan Fawr, modest by local standards at 426m but a good place from which to admire the wonderful scenery.

After a quick coffee break we rejoined the track and continued northwards towards Stapeley Common and the Bronze Age stone circle at Mitchell’s Fold. Fifteen of the stones still stand and, from its impressive position, it is easy to imagine the legends woven into its 3,000 - year history.

We headed west off the common picking up a track in a steep-sided gully that took us to the lane near Middleton Hall Farm. The route we had planned was scheduled to follow a field path across five or six fields and rejoin the lane near The Knoll. But it was here we ran into our first problem of the day - although clearly signed from the lane, beyond the first field the path became impossible for us to find. There was no stile or signage and a large tree had crashed through the fence around where we calculated the next stile to be.

Whatever the reason, after around 10 minutes of searching we decided to backtrack to the lane and follow it the longer way round instead. Although the lanes are quiet and pretty enough it was a shame as there was already a fair amount of road walking to be done. However, we reckon it might make a good winter walk when firmer underfoot conditions might be advantageous.

Having got ourselves back on track, we had a break for lunch then carried on along the lane to Whittery Wood. Here we met the path through Marrington Dingle, a steep-sided, heavily wooded cleft that has the feel of a “hidden” valley. Threaded through by the River Camlad, the valley sits in the grounds of Marrington Hall and, although the main path is waymarked and passable, the surrounding land is signed as private.

This brought us to the second of today’s problems; the two paths marked on the map leading to the east were not in evidence on the ground so, to complete our circuit, we ended up climbing out to the west giving us about a mile of walking along the main road to meet up with our proposed route. I must remember to report these problems.

From Alport we took the muddy path down to the river and crossed by the footbridge. A short climb on the other side brought us out by The Rock. There were still a few late blackberries in the high hedgerows and, as we wound our way back along the lanes, we picked enough to flavour a handful of small, scrumped apples we had acquired.

Later, we went back up to Mitchell’s Fold to watch the sunset and reflect on our recent walk. Overall it was a good enough trip, but because of the problems we encountered a bit of fine-tuning is required to get the best out of it, and I’m sure we’ll be happy to try.

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