Trellech and the Usk Valley - By Clifford Strover
The Usk is an extremely pretty valley and much neglected, the Wye being more popular. I find the Usk is quieter, wider and less wooded than the Wye so has much more impressive open views of the Eastern most of the Welsh Valleys along with excellent views north of the three peaks of Monmouthshire, the Skirrid, Sugar Loaf and Blorenge. The only downside is the A449 dual carriageway which can be noisy. Given the choice I would prefer to walk the Usk Valley than the Wye but, luckily, I have the choice of both. The village of Trellech has a number of sites well worth visiting.
You may like to start this walk at the Lion Inn in Trellech, however I tend to start it in the large gravel lay by just south of Trellech on the B4293, by the village sign. Trellech is a small village and it is difficult to park in.
Cross the road and go though the animal loading pen, keeping the hedge on your right walk to the top end of the field, where you’ll see a gate and bridge across a brook on your right remember this for the end of the walk. Turn left and keeping the field boundary on your right and follow the path across the fields. If you wish you can follow an alternative path into Woolpack woods to see the remains of the stone-built ironworks. If you do this follow the wide track through the woods.
When you get to the cottage at the end of the woods I would not recommend attempting the path marked as being used as a public right of way. There are signs stating it is private property, the track quickly runs out and you are left trying to cross fallen trees on a steep slope, so instead turn left and follow the road back to the main footpath.
At the minor road the path crosses left then right, over the road, going behind Pant-Glas. Note that the path goes into the field and not into the garden. Carry on past the hen house in the field and follow the path through the copse. As you come over the ridge you will be rewarded with a view across the Usk Valley to Mynydd Garnclochdy and the Blorenge. The path crosses a stile on to a road, turn right to the junction of four single track roads. Stay on the right-hand road, going slightly up hill. The road becomes a gravel track and passes beside a house. Stay on this, through the gate by the house and into the paddock at the back of the house. Keep the field boundary on your right and follow the path into the woods. At this point the path is a footpath rather than a track. Stay on this down through the woods joining a forest track. The track comes out at a pretty pack horse bridge.
Cross the bridge and go to the right of the house opposite the bridge. This is marked as a track but is a steep but attractive rocky path with a babbling stream on the right-hand side. At the road at the top of the track turn right and follow the tarmac road uphill, but not as steep. The path goes in front of a long converted farm house and barn where it becomes a farm track. Go through the gate into the field, aim for the wooded back left-hand corner of the field but don’t forget to turn and enjoy the view across the Usk Valley as you climb gently uphill.
Keep the hedge on your left in the field then when you cross into the next one you will see a farm, bear left, aim just to the right of it. Cross over the farm track and aim for the stile in the hedge in front. Cross the next field and keep walking diagonally. Enjoy the views across to the north west of the Skirrid, Sugar Loaf and Blorenge. The stile out of the field onto the road is further along than the map suggests so don’t worry if you think you’ve missed it. Cross on to the road and keep walking, in a short distance on the left are two gates beside each other the second one having a footpath sign. Follow this path diagonally across the field aim just to the right of the woods. Turn and enjoy the view just once more, well for a short while. Follow the path beside the woods, Upper Cwm-Bychan, woods will appear in front of you aim for the junction of the two. At the junction turn left and cross into the woods walk down the track. As the track turns left look hard for a footpath going straight on through the woods. Cross the steep stile at the bottom of the track and walk down a steep hill, enjoying another view across the north of the Usk valley. The Skirrid is an interesting mountain having three distinct profiles depending which direction it is viewed from.
Descend the steep slope but before you get to the house at the bottom, and in the same field, just before the stile which goes straight on, you will see a track on the right. Take the track, it climbs up, back into the woods, do not cross the stile. At Ffosydd-orles there is a footpath marked going off to the left, this path is unclear and much easier to stay on the forest track. Follow this track, when you reach the Losey Estate it is easier to follow the forest tracks through the woods than try the footpaths around the house. At the end of the track turn left and then when this track runs out at T-junction turn right. Follow the track between the pools of the appropriately named Wet Meadow Wood. At the far end of the wood you will see the edge of the woods as the track turns right. A footpath heads out of the woods, on your left-hand side, the edge of the woods being about 50 yards away. Take this path and cross into the field, straight across this field and the next field. Cross down to the bottom left hand corner of the next field and a bridge over a stream. The footpath then becomes a very clear track leading into the back of a modern housing estate. Follow the road to the end of the estate and at the B4293 turn right along it. Take care at this point as the road is busy and there is a single-track traffic calming section. As the B-road turns left at the church carry straight on through the gate. Follow the path behind the houses to the Tump Turret. The Tump Turret is the impressive remains of a motte and bailey castle. The motte still stands very high and is one of the best I’ve seen.
After admiring Tump Turret take the path in the back-left hand corner following the road through the farm turning left. As the farm road meets the B-Road there is a path on the right beside the cross, following the steam. It is not marked on the map. Follow this and cross over the stream on a wooden bridge. Across the road are Harold’s Men three standing stones. They are said to be three Saxon raiders from the army of Harold Godwinson, who raided the area in 1065. The stone is a conglomerate know locally as pudding stone.
If you wish you can take the opportunity to visit the Virtuous Well just outside of the village.
The well was known for its healing qualities, especially for the eyes. Also, there are the remains of the Medieval Town. It is now believed that Trellech was the largest town in Wales in the Middle Ages.
After visiting the standing stones turn left and follow the B-Road out of the village. As the B-Road turns left there is a farm track going straight on, follow this. At a scruffy piece of land, the track forks, although not marked as a footpath take the left-hand fork pass through the gate at the end and keep following the track. You will come across the bridge and gate seen earlier in the walk. Cross these and turn left to follow the hedge back to the layby.