South Wales - The Angidy and Gaer Hill

The Angidy and Gaer Hill - By Clifford Strover

Start the walk at the wire works car park in Tintern, it is quieter than the car park at the Abbey and is free. You may park next to the Abbey if you wish. There are many plaques in the wire works car park detailing the history of the wire works. There were various wire works stretching from Tintern up to the iron furnaces at the head of the Angidy valley, in all they formed the largest industrial complex in Wales in the 1600s.

Follow the road out of the car park then as the road turns right fork left and follow the path behind and between the houses beside the Angidy. When the path reaches a road turn left and then right to follow a path uphill beside a house into the woods. The path soon levels out and becomes a broad track follow this through the woods, keep low beside the river. Emerge from the woods by the road follow this to the ironworks. These date from the 1500s and were the first to use pistons rather than bellows to supply the air for the furnaces.

Return back to the road, turn right up the valley, follow the road for a few hundred yards. When the woods return to the road side on your left take the path up through the woods. Climb steeply up to the forestry track. Turn right on this and follow the wide level forestry track through the woods. The track dives into the woods following the contours and takes a sharp U turn. After this U turn at each fork in the track keep to the left. After the second fork the track climbs gently upwards. The woods clear first to the left then to the right and you emerge in a hamlet called “The Cot”. Turn left at the road then, at the end of the hamlet, right into the woods. Keep left and follow the path along the side of the woods. Pass the ornamental lake on the left, ignore the tracks pass on the right and left. The one on the left leaves it may be tricky to ensure you are on the correct path. It soon becomes apparent as the path climbs steeply up through the woods, which can be still and airless on a hot day. Emerge on a forest track. Not shown properly on the map but you will join a slightly lower track turn right to reach the main level track in about 10 yards then left. In 100 yards you’ll see another forest track on the right follow this one. It climbs gently, before it turns hard right there is a small footpath on the left take this path. The path is fairly short but steep and deeply cut in places. It comes out at a stile at the edge of the woods. Cross over the stile into the meadow. There may be English Long Horn cattle grazing in the field. Follow the path behind the barn on to the farm road. When the farm road turns right turn left and go through the stile and up the hill towards the wireless masts, the path goes just to the left of these. The stiles are of an unusual design being a flap that sides to one side. At the top of the hill on the right is the ditch of the iron age hillfort, one edge of which runs just below the trees.

At the top of Gaer Hill turn and admire the fantastic views across the Severn Estuary to the Mendips and beyond. It is possible to see both of the Severn bridges the M4 climbing up the hill near Almonsbury north of Bristol, Clevedon, down to Chepstow and west across to Twmbarlwm. For me this is the best view anywhere in the Wye Valley. I have climbed the hill late on a winters evening to see the bridges lit up in the dark, although it is better view in the day light. Like all good views the photo doesn’t do it justice since the view is much wider than a camera lens.

After admiring the view continue past the wireless masts, keeping close to them on your right, though the gate and diagonally across the field to back corner. Cross the stile on to the road, turn left. After a few yards a track appears on the left take the path on the right through the hedge, across the tranquil church meadow to Penterry Church. The church is a lovely spot. It is a very typical Monmouthshire church, having the church bell situated in a vertical extension of the gable end. The church is a quiet peaceful spot. I have been told that the church has no electricity and winter services are conducted by candle light.

Follow the path past the end of th church, once through the gate turn right. Follow the path down the hill over a road on onto a broad old track the base of which is bed rock. The path descends rapidly in places beside a stream. Follow this path back to Tintern. As the path becomes metalled it passes behind the old Abbey Hotel. At this point you may choose to visit Tintern to see the Abbey the Mill or the tea rooms!

Form Tintern follow the road back to the Wireworks car park by turning left at The Royal George Inn. In total the walk is 7 miles long.