The Wye Valley is rightly revered as one of Britain’s most beautiful regions with views and landscape to make you audibly ooh and aah. We are situated in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with the Malverns to our North, the ancient Forest of Dean due south and the Black Mountains to our west. Here are 5 of our favourite glamping walks ranging from a super easy family amble to a half day hike. All have views galore and one of them has a fab wild swimming spot.
1. Coppett Hill
This is the closest walk to the glampsite, starting in the picturesque village of Goodrich that sits on the English/Welsh border and in true Marches fashion boasts a particularly fine medieval castle ruin and 17th century Inn. The walk features a short steepish ascent to the summit, a long gentle descent through ancient woodland down to the River Wye and a fabulous wild swimming/picnic spot, before looping back via lush pastureland and along the edge of woodland to the finish.
Take the steps up past the silent rock faces, emerging onto distinctive common ground with already outstanding views and climb to the trig point on the summit. Continue along the brow of the hill which provides a spectacular 180 degree view west over the border to Wales, to the North and East. Below you the River Wye snakes across the valley floor farmland as it flows towards Monmouth. The Hill is a nature reserve, famed for its bracken, butterflies, deer and fungi. As you start the descent of the hill on the West side, the ancient pathway takes you down through woodland before emerging onto a beautiful tract of riverside pasture that gently rolls down to this side of the Wye. This is a great spot for wild swimming and a picnic.
On the other bank a vast cliff looms above the river, the dramatic edifice of Yat Rock towering over walkers and canoeists below. Once an iron age hill fort, Yat Rock is now a vantage point for spotting the peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks and osprey that nest here. The view right down the river through the pastureland is one of the classic views in Herefordshire. When you’re ready to leave this heavenly spot, follow the path through the pasture, through a couple of gates before turning right by Rocklands Farm and climbing over a stile. It’s a gentle climb through woodland along the lower reaches of Coppett Hill before bringing you back to the car. Thirsty walkers have been known to refresh themselves via the means of the fruity bonanza that is The Hostelrie’s Herefordshire Pale Ale.
The walk takes about 2.5 hours.
2. May Hill
A walk to the summit of the delightfully named May Hill with its distinctive clump of pine trees and the tallest of the hills that separate the Wye and Severn Valleys, before circling back through the woodlands of the Huntley Estate. May Hill’s summit views are legendary and on a clear day you can see 13 counties below.
Your starting point is May Hill Common: take the path forking left through the trees. Rising steadily through beautiful woodland abundant with wildlife, you emerge on to the hill’s final climb through a kissing gate in the stone wall.
The summit is open land devoid of trees except for a large group of Corsican pines, planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. Their distinctive silhouette can be seen from dozens of miles away.
Up here you’ll also find a herd of Belted Galloway cows, nicknamed the ‘Oreo’ cow on account of their panda coat markings.
Every year the Hill hosts a centuries old May Day bacchanalian celebration to welcome in the beginning of summer. Fortified by local ales that some have been drinking non stop since the evening before, revellers gather at sunrise to Morris dance, recite poetry and heartily carouse, giddy with excitement at the arrival of the summer months. Whistles whittled from wood are given out to children to blow away the cold weather.
Descending the north side, the atmosphere changes as you turn left into the dense woods of the Huntley Estate. A good path takes walkers along the Eastern side of the hill, and stunning views east to the Cotswolds emerge every now and then between the tall trees. There’s an impressive stretch with huge redwoods (great for tree huggers amongst us with their soft lattice bark) and ferns abound. The path rejoins the Common via a stile and then it’s a short mosey back down to the car.
May Hill is a 20 minute drive from the glampsite and the walk is an easy 1.5 hr loop. This is the Cliffords Mesne route having come via Aston Ingham. Unfortunately The Yew Tree pub is now closed but The Glasshouse Inn below May Hill village will massage tired limbs and full hearts.
3. Midsummer Hill, Malverns
This is an easy walk located at the southernmost tip of the Malvern range so great for families with younger children and can be combined with a visit to Eastnor Castle and the fantastic Eastnor Pottery. More adventurous glampers can strike on from Midsummer Hill for British Camp, the scene of Caractus’ last stand against the Romans, with its classic 360 degree views.
Initially ascending through woodland that is carpeted by bluebells in Spring, the landscape opens out as you make the climb straight up to the summit of Midsummer Hill. You can still clearly see the entrance gates to what was a significant iron age fort. Depending on who you believe, the hilltop encampment was either a successful 500 year camp housing 1500 people that burnt down in AD48 or the site of the legendary Dyn Mawr (Celtic for ‘great city’) where 6000 people lived on the hill and below on the valley floor. There are great views out over Eastnor Castle, its deer park and the magnificent Somers memorial obelisk, which you can then climb down to.
In keeping with its name a handful of well refreshed pagans with antlers on their heads are to be found gamely welcoming in the sun each Midsummer’s Day on top of the hill. Up here there’s a feeling that you are walking in the footsteps of our ancient island past. The views are magnificent and as you move up to British Camp, one of the finest and most celebrated viewpoints in the British Isles, the heartstrings stir and the imagination leaps. The landscapes move in and out of focus through the mist and there’s a connection to Arthurian Britain. Edward Elgar would walk in the Malverns in the morning and compose in the afternoon whilst WH Auden, CS Lewis and Tolkein all felt its inspirational pull.
On your way home you might want to stop off at the Roger Oates showroom (beautiful rugs and runners) located on your right after you leave Eastnor. Equally worthy of a pit stop is the pretty market town of Ledbury, home to a few retail gems like Hus & Hem and Tinsmiths, located in the Design Quarter.
Midsummer Hill to the obelisk and back is an easy hour long amble, going on up to British Camp will take about 2.5 hours round trip. Park at Hollybush car park on the A438 (couple of miles beyond Eastnor on your left)
4. Devil’s Pulpit & Brockweir
This is a fantastic 12km hike that starts in Tintern on the Welsh side of the River Wye, climbs up to join the Offa’s Dyke National Trail and on to reach Devil’s Pulpit from where you are afforded the most spectacular view over the Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey. From here it’s a long slow gentle descent through woodland and green fields to the village of Brockweir before crossing back over to the Welsh side and ambling back along the river to Tintern.
Cross the river over the historic iron footbridge. Follow the old railway track before making a steep ascent through woodland awaft with the smell of wild garlic until you meet up with the Offa’s Dyke Path. Mercian King Offa built the dyke and ramparts to separate Mercia and Powys and it is heavy on symbolism, akin to Hadrian’s Wall that separates Scotland and England. The path is a national trail that roughly marks the Welsh and English borders as they are still. It leads you to the Devil’s Pulpit, a viewpoint in the limestone rock that juts out from the cliff providing stunning views down to Tintern and the Wye. The Abbey is a Gothic masterpiece that was founded in the 12th Century but has been a magnificent ruin for nearly 500 years. According to legend, the devil tried to lure the Abbey monks from this lofty pedestal and stamped his footprints into the rock in anger when unsuccessful. Continue on Offa’s Dyke Path, ignoring short cuts signed left back to Tintern. Eventually you leave the woodland to open green fields and on down to the village of Brockweir. The institution that is The Brockweir Inn is a great pitstop, although is being renovated as I write. Cross back over the river in the village and follow the riverside path all the way back to Tintern.
The river and valley sides here are resplendent, truly beautiful. Wordsworth’s famous poem inspired by this scene describes it adroitly, beginning:
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! And again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.- Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Glampers might want to drop into the Kingstone Brewery craft brewery and taproom on the way back. A craft brewer par excellence, they also hold a monthly ale and pizza night on the first Saturday of every month. Well worth a pitstop. The start is the footbridge near the Abbey. This is a relatively lengthy walk so bring water and a snack/picnic.
5. Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr)
An exciting gradual ascent up a lone hill on the Easternmost part of the Brecon Beacons on the border of Herefordshire/Monmouthshire. The hill’s isolation means glorious views in every direction.
The Skirrid stands alone, separated from the rest of the Black Mountains range with one side appearing hollowed out. Literally translated it means ‘great split’ or ‘shattered’ and it is a place of myth and legend but also strong religious identity. According to folklore, part of the mountain was broken off at the moment of Christ’s crucifixion and it became known as the Holy Mountain or Sacred Hill. Local tradition deems the soil from The Skirrid to be particularly holy and fertile: over the centuries people have taken handfuls away to scatter over their fields or on the coffins of their loved ones, as well as placing it in the foundations of churches. Pilgrimages were made to the summit, especially on Michaelmas Eve.
The first part of the climb is through woodland before reaching a wooden gate at the top. Turn right here and follow the hill round until you emerge on to open mountainside. It’s a steady ascent up the ridge to the summit where you’ll find the ruins of an iron age hill fort and a medieval chapel used by Roman Catholics during and after the Reformation. There’s also a distinctive stone known as The Devil’s Table. At the end of the 19th century a cunning man lived here, giving advice and ‘magic’ to those who sought him out and paid him, placing money on the stone. Storytellers say he can still be heard roaring like a bull at night.
The 360 degree views from the top are breathtaking and it’s a great spot to enjoy the classic shape of the neighbouring Sugarloaf mountain that towers above Abergavenny. Once you’ve had your fill of the summit, descend via a path that tracks round the north of the mountain to the lower slopes from which you can look down at life in the valley below, seemingly in miniature form from your lofty position. A gentle path wends its way past rocky outcrops and back into to the woodland.
A 2-3 hr walk, National Trust car park (charges apply) on the Skenfrith to Abergavenny car park. Famished glampers may want to head for The Hardwick, a good gastropub close by or if money’s no object, try the delicious Michelin starred Walnut Tree.
After all that stomping you may want to treat yourself to one of our blissful massages back on site in our beautiful lotus belle tent. Choose from our Glamp & Pamp menu of holistic massages and facials, wonderfully relaxing and great for tired, aching muscles. And if you need a night off campfire duties then you can always take advantage of our ‘van service’.
Your glamping adventure starts here