THE WALK

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD COUNTRYSIDE: MALVERN AUTUMN SHOW -

Park at Cas­tle Dell car park by Chep­stow Cas­tle. Here there are toi­lets, a Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, pubs and a mu­seum – so an ex­cel­lent base for the walk. Turn left out of the car park. Head­ing north, cross over the mag­nif­i­cent Old Wye Bridge – it’s Vic­to­rian iron­work painted a hand­some white. You have now left Wales. On the ‘English side’ head up the steep nar­row lane sign­posted ‘Offa’s Dyke Path’ (look out the white acorn sign of a long dis­tance foot­path – this one runs 177 miles to Prestatyn on the north coast of Wales if you’re feel­ing ath­letic!). Head straight up the lane. Ig­nore the path half­way up that turns right (that leads to the end/ start of the Offa’s Dyke Path at Sed­bury Cliffs). Con­tinue up to the road (Castle­ford Hill), cross care­fully, and con­tinue up the green lane (Mo­pla Road). Take the gate on your left and head north up the hill, cross­ing the field. At the brow of the hill you’ll pass a house with the an­cient Tut­shill Tower in its back gar­den. ‘Tut’ is a lo­cal word for ‘watch­tower’ and gave its name to the vil­lage. Keep fol­low­ing signs for the Offa’s Dyke, pass­ing through a cou­ple of metal gates and cross­ing a sec­ond field with views of a mag­nif­i­cent coun­try house. At the far end of the field you come to a stone wall. Set back is a wooden foot­bridge – go un­der... Drop down into Lan­caut Na­ture Re­serve, pass­ing some im­pres­sive crags and the quarry. Spend a mo­ment at the love bench. Fol­low the foot­path on its loop around the re­serve – it snakes along the side of the Wye, drop­ping down – mind your step (this is wear walk­ing poles and good boots will serve you well). The foot­path seems to end at what looks like a land­slide – do not be alarmed! Scram­ble across this boul­der scree and very shortly the path con­tin­ues. Con­tinue on un­til you come to a bench by the river – sit and en­joy the views back along the Wye. If you’re lucky you may even see grey seals! You will even­tu­ally come to a ru­ined church – once ded­i­cated to Saint Cewydd – all that

re­mains of a me­dieval vil­lage named af­ter him (Llan Cewyddd be­came Lan­caut). As­cend up the steep path (mer­ci­fully, an­other bench awaits be­fore the next push...). Keep as­cend­ing through the for­est. You’ll pass two limekilns. At the brow of the hill you emerge from the trees as you reach Lan­caut Lane. Fol­low this right back to­wards Chep­stow. You’ll pass a carpark with a pere­grine fal­con wooden carv­ing. At the B4228 turn right. Fol­low it down – be care­ful of traf­fic. Cross at take the grass verge as it bends left. Con­tinue to Wood­croft. Con­tinue along the road un­til you come to Win­tour’s Leap, set back from the road on the right. This af­fords fabulous views over the Wye – it is named af­ter a Sir John Win­tour, a Roy­al­ist, who, flee­ing his Round­head pur­suers, made a dar­ing es­cape down the steep gorge. The quar­ry­ing has made this more pre­cip­i­tous than it used to be in the time of the Civil War, nev­er­the­less, a heroic feat, but not one to em­u­late! Fol­low the Offa’s Dyke Path as it runs along the back of the cot­tages and the top of the quarry – but don’t look down! The OFP comes out by an old ‘me­dieval times don­key path’. Go right – fol­low Cole­ford Road into Tut­shill. Just be­fore the charm­ing church of St Mary and St Peter you’ll pass Church Cot­tage, the child­hood home of JK Rowl­ing. Be mind­ful this is a pri­vate res­i­dence if you take any pho­to­graphs. Shortly af­ter this you will reach the Church of Eng­land pri­mary school – imag­ine a 9 year old JK Rowl­ing at­tend­ing here... Keep fol­low­ing the Cole­ford Road down to­wards Chep­stow, pass­ing a well-main­tained WI shel­ter with book­stall and in­for­ma­tion. At the Live and Let Live Pub, leav­ing the Cole­ford Road, take Mo­pla Lane right down the hill. Note on your right an old sign on gar­den wall of a cot­tage in­form­ing us that ‘On this site, Sept, 5. 1758, noth­ing hap­pened’ there! Con­tinue down­wards (pass­ing the gate you went through up the hill to Tut­shill Tower) back to the bridge ... Cross the Old Wye Bridge, en­joy­ing splen­did views of Chep­stow Cas­tle. Here you can turn left along the river­side to the lovely Boat Inn, where you can sit out­side (in good weather) and en­joy the view back across to the English side. You can then re­join the route – ei­ther by re­trac­ing your steps to the bridge or cut­ting through the park and turn­ing right at St Anne Street. Pass­ing The Bridge Inn, ‘the first and last pub in Wales’, con­tinue up Bridge Street to­wards Chep­stow Mu­seum . Top marks! You’ve made it back to Cas­tle Dell car park. Time for a game of quid­ditch or a gin­ger beer?

JK Rowl­ing, by Ke­van Man­war­ing

View of the Wye from Lan­caut

View from Win­tour’s Leap

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