Wales, Llanthony Priory walk
8 miles/12.9 km • moderate
Llanthony PriorySouth Wales, Brecon Beacons
Dramatically situated in the heart of the Black Mountains, the romantic ruins of Llanthony Priory and Llanthony Priory Hotel’s food and ale are the focal points of this ramble. Exhilarating mountain walking on the return leg and a unique church at Cwmyoy. Follow the link below for directions, points of interest and more on the Llanthony Priory Hotel.
Start Llanthony village and abbey, located on minor road between Hay-on-Wye and Llanfihangel Crucorney, 11 miles (17.7 km) south of Hay-on-Wye. No public transport. Free car park at Llanthony Priory.
Essentials 4.5 hours; generally level outward section through the Vale of Ewyas followed by a steep climb, then a more gradual one on to high ground; steep descent back into Llanthony. Terrain Fields and meadow paths, mountain walking on rocky tracks, care needed on steep descent near finish.
Finding the way Return to entrance drive past St David’s church (left) and turn left (sign-posted pony trekking) through farmyard. Follow waymarkers through pasture on to footpath via gates, gradually climbing to reach small wood in 550 yards (500 m). Go through wood via stiles, continue uphill for further 550 yards (500 m) and pass in front of ruined barn (stream on left). Cross stream by second barn, climb stile and follow wire fence for 100 yards (90 m) to field gate and maintain direction on bridleway. 1 Follow hill con- tour for 1,350 yards (1,250 m) (Maes-y-Beran farm below), keeping ahead beyond ruins, then gradually descend for 260 yards (250 m) to reach boulder- strewn stream. Bear right and pick your way steeply down to ruined farm. Pass between ruins, locate footpath sign and bear left across field, passing large oak tree to dis- tant stile. Continue over two more stiles, then descend on grassy path to river near footbridge. 2 Cross stile (not bridge) and climb track through woods and along grassy trail to Darren Farm. Go through yard in front of farmhouse, then behind cottage and gently climb to reach grassy track. Climb to where track veers sharp left, then bear right to stile to left of buildings and follow path, soon to pass wooden chalet before 3 forking right down to Cwmyoy church. Pass through churchyard and kissing gate to road, continuing down to river bridge and T-junction. 4 Turn left, then right over stile and climb meadow to track. Turn right uphill through wood to stile (ignore bridleway left), then after 220 yards (200 m) cross wide forest track and continue to climb steeply. Shortly, follow track left, cross minor track and proceed up past house (right) to reach open hilltop, then turn right along ridge track for 1 mile (1.6 km). Once on open moor start to climb more steeply and take most defined path to cairn ahead (260 yards/200 m). 5 Keep to ascending path for 0.5 miles (0.8 km) over next rise (Balbach), then descend for 550 yards (500 m) into dip. Do not climb next summit, instead, turn right by pile of stones to follow path towards valley. Soon cross stream bed and bear right into steep valley (ravine right) and drop steeply, soon to pick up signs for Llanthony beyond farm. Go through pasture, cross footbridge and follow waymarkers to cross river bridge leading out to road and Priory car park.
Llanthony Priory Hotel Llanthony It could hardly be better placed for the walker, either doing this route or others in the Wye Valley. The vaulted bar in the crypt is atmospheric (spooky?) – perhaps the perfect place to relax after the breathtaking final leg of this walk, and certainly the perfect place to enjoy your pint of Brains or Felinfoel ale, or summer cider on the lawns outside. But, it’s only open at the weekends between October and Easter and in the summer a queue can form outside… The food is simple but good value, using much local produce. You can also lodge in the former prior’s quarters, within the wonderfully atmospheric abbey ruins. The highest bedroom is reached by 60 spiral steps in the South Tower. Not a place for the fastidious, but the price is modest.
Points of interest
LLANTHONY PRIORY is an Augustinian house founded in the twelfth century.
CWMYOY A landslip caused the strange appearance of St Martin’s Church.