Walking in Monmouth, Monmouthshire and The Wye Valley

Circular Walks from Mitchel Troy

Two walks around the pretty Mitchel Troy. Walk one: 5 miles approximately 3 ½ hours. Walk two: 3 ½ miles approximately 2 hours.

Two undulating circular walks through farmland and woods in rural Monmouthshire. The routes follow little used footpaths, green lanes and old tracks offering magnificent panoramic views far into Wales and across the border to Herefordshire.

The routes are suitable for moderately fit walkers, but involve some long ascents and steep sections. Dogs may have difficulty in crossing some stiles and will have to be kept under close control at all times and on a lead when passing close to farms and livestock.

5 miles approximately 3 ½ hours

This is a long walk with some steep gradients but providing some of the most magnificent views in the area, stretching east towards the Wye Valley and west towards the Sugar Loaf and Black Mountains.

Park in the village car park beside St. Michael's church, Mitchel Troy (Grid ref. SO492103).

Facing the main road turn right; after 200 yards, turn left up the lane marked 'Common Road' then, in 20 yards take the way-marked stile to the right and follow the Ridgeway, an old sunken cart track uphill.

As you come out into farmland the hamlet of Mitchel Troy Common is on your left. The higher up the hill you walk the grander the views behind you. Continue following the way-marks carefully near the old stone Highway Barn. Until a few years ago this building was home to a barn owl which hunted across the rough pasture higher up the hill.

A gate takes you into the edge of Trealy Wood. Beyond the wood the path climbs very steeply to a bridle gate in the right hand corner of the field. (A shorter walk c an be taken by turning left after the gate and following the almost level lane for half a mile to a stone stile on the left of the road.)

Walking in MonmouthshireThe main route goes straight ahead, following the lane for about a third of a mile with breathtaking views spanning 180 degrees. The hillside above is said to of have been a battleground in 1402, when Prince Owen Glendower's Welshmen forced Henry of Monmouth's Englishmen to retreat.

Just before a stone barn on the roadside turn right, past Craig -y- Dorth Cottages and follow the way-marks downhill to your left. The fields here form a part of Cwmcarvan Court Estate. After half a mile the route crosses the Cwmcarvan Brook and skirts Church Farm up to the road. Turn left towards the Church. (Some historic details are given in the walk 2 description.)

Take the lane to the left of the Church, walking gently uphill to a stile in a hedge on a bank, next to a gate. Cross-the stile and walk to your left following the way-mark sign at a fork downhill to the left. (The straight on route is the return leg of walkway 2.)

There are some fine oaks and cherry tree on the old field hedgerows. The cream house set on the opposite hillside is Cwmcarvan Court. Proceed do wn the center of the field and over a brow, to a wooden bridge, cross, then steadily climb the hill, heading towards a steel barn to find your next way-mark.

Turn right to a gate, pass through, then continue upwards to a stile to the left of a barn. Cross and head upwards to the next stile which leads onto the delivery to Cwmcarvan Court. Cross over the stile opposite and continue uphill to a stile opposite a cottage. Turn left to cross a "covered" wire covered fence and climb steeply upwards to the road, where there are stunning views back across this quiet valley to Cwmcarvan Hill.

Some large boulders of conglomerate stone lie in the last field before the highway. Turn right along this road, then left to a pair of metal gates. In 20 yards, bear right and downhill to a stile by a gate and on down to the tarmac road. Cross the road and proceed to the fine old stone stile almost opposite.

Walking in MonmouthshireThe short cut joins here. Keeping the hedge to the right go downhill across two fields to a stile with a stone barn to the left. At this stile bear diagonally right to an open gateway and along the rutted track to the road.

Bear right and after 150 yards, immediately beyond two quite modern houses, turn left between the house and a stream. Follow the path next to the stream and eventually onto a tarmac lane. On along the tarmac lane for one third of a mile, turn left at the T - Junction (Stone House) and right at the finger post. Here the right of way goes through a private garden, so it is essential to keep to the narrow way-marked path.

Keeping the hedge on your left, cross two fields. At the far corner of the second field look out for a stile. Climb over, and keeping the hedge on your right, follow the way-mark signs back downhill towards Mitchel Troy Village. In the last field, bear right near the bottom to join an old lane. Go straight on and out to the road opposite Mitchel Troy Church.

Very little remains of the early thirteenth century church. The tower was built in 1414. At one time there was a spire on top but this was struck by lightning and fell through the roof, demolishing the north aisle. Between 1870 and 1876 the church was extensively restored using much of the old stone. Inside there is a large Norman font and in the churchyard, a cross probably dating from the 13th century. Adam of Usk was rector of Mitchel Troy in 1382 but it is doubtful that he ever visited the parish as he held many other livings in Gwent. Trained as a lawyer, he was familiar with the goings on in the Royal Court of Henry IV and V and curried favours wherever he could. His dairies contain accounts of many contemporary events including the battle of Againcourt in 1415.

To the right of the church is the site of the old tithe barn.

The church registers give an account of the fees paid for the destruction of vermin in the 16th century. The heads of the dead animals had to be brought to church on Sundays and the payments came from the poor rate.

Walking in MonmouthshireFoxes, badgers, otters, pine martens, wild cats and polecats were worth the princely sum of one shilling, whilst kites and hedgehogs where rewarded with four old pennies. Perhaps the destruction helps to explain the rarity of many of these animals today. Indeed some of those 'Vermin' are now protected species in our countryside.

From the Church, return to the adjoining car park.

3 ½ miles approximately 2 hours

This walk provides splendid views as you cross-unspoiled countryside. Some of the paths and tracks may be muddy. This walk may be combined with walk 1.

Start from Cwmcarvan (Cwmcarfan) Church (Grid reference SO 477075) where there is parking  space for few cars.

Walks in MonmouthshireThe Welsh name refers to the Valley of the Carfan Brook, which flows through the Parish. Old yew trees line the churchyard of this church, which is dedicated to St. Cadog. In medieval times it belonged to the large manor of Trellech and was built to serve the needs of the local peasant people. Founded in the Norman times, parts of the building date back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the tower was probably added after 1525. It has a wonderful nave roof containing a massive amount of oak formed into a barrel or a wagon shape.

Facing the entrance gates, take the right fork in front of the Church and after 80 yards, turn right over a stile and descend across pastureland to the right hand hedge, where a way-mark will direct you over the stream. Head upwards to the top right corner of the field, cross, then continue forward aiming for a tall tree, where a stile will take you onto a green lane and thence to a road.

There are many mature oak trees standing in the fields, or along the boundaries throughout the walk. One such tree may support as much as 300 different species of wildlife.

At the road turn sharp left up the bank, cross the stile, where a finger post directs you up the filed. On topping the rise, your next stile will be sighted. There are fine views of Cwmcarvan Hill, which is covered in Forestry Commission plantations, and the private woodlands of Croes Robert and Gaer Wood.

Way-mark arrows will direct you through two mare fields with visible stiles, then bear right across a narrow field, heading to the left of Werncochen Farmhouse. At the gate turn right and then through another gate joining the drive out to the road. Turn left and continue steeply up the hill.

Walks in MonmouthshireThe old hedgerows are made up of hawthorn, beech, holly and many other species. Each shrubby plant species within 100 yards of hedge is supposed to indicate 100 years o f the hedgerow's existence. The steep banks are full of wild flowers. At the junction with the Monmouth Road, there are fine panoramic views to the north. Turn left here, then almost immediately right along the drive to Little Llwyn - y - Celyn. Pass to the right of the house then keep to the track alongside the bottom of Croes Robert Wood, which is a Gwent Wildlife Trust reserve. Beyond the next stile, two way-mark posts lead you down a field to footage in the bottom right corner. At the second way-mark you cross the line of an old hedge indicated by the spaced row of trees. After the footbridge cross the next field to a stile and cross the stream by a small bridge.

Cross the next field aiming at the left-hand point of the wood to a stile by a ford. Cross the stile and another small bridge, and keeping the hedge on your left, follow the track to a stile by a gate. Follow the track straight ahead, which leads all the way through to Cwm Collier. It can be very muddy here.

At the farmhouse keep to the track as it bears left and uphill to  the road. Go straight over and cross the field to the first of a series of stiles. Turn left and walk trough the gateway, bearing left uphill along the low ridge above Cwmcarvan Court.

Walking in MonmouthshireYou will be unlucky if you do not see a buzzard hunting over this valley.

At the site, with gate adjoining continue forward to join a farm track (The route now merges with walk 1 from Mitchel Troy) and still proceeding forward, cross the stile into a lane, where a right turn will bring you back to Cwmcarvan Church.