Three Churches Walk
In this video Ian takes a lovely walk that visits three splendid Churches, at Kings Caple, Sellack and Hoarwithy, not to mention a rather special nineteenth century suspension bridge.
You can take this walk yourself with the aid of our handy downloadable .gpx file for SatNav and SmartPhones or our printable .pdf walking guide.
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Hello and welcome to this our first episode of Wye Valley Walks.
Today we will be taking a walk in Herefordshire not too far from the town of town of Ross on Wye.
This walk is locally known as the three churches walk.
It’s a four-mile walk that, not surprisingly, takes in three churches.
It’s 4.82 miles or 7.75 kilometers long.
If you fancy taking the walk yourself you can find all the details below this video on the WyeValley.TV website along with downloadable files for GPS devices, smartphones and the like.
As well as a PDF version you can download and print.
Our walk today starts in the village of Kings Caple.
We’re starting here because it’s nice and easy to park, which you can do next
to the church next and opposite the Tump.
In case you are wondering a Tump is a small rounded hill or mound.
The first of our three churches is the thirteenth century St. John the Baptist Church.
The church and churchyard stand on the site of the former Bailey of a Norman Castle.
The Tump across the road is what remains of the Motte.
The Nave and chancel of the church, or the squat bits if you like, date back to the 13th century and the tower was added in the 14th.
In the 15th century they finished the job with the addition of the porch and lady chapel.
Inside it boasts a Jacobean pulpit and pews dating back to 1638.
On palm Sunday Pax Cakes are distributed in the church.
If you’ve never heard of a Pax Cake I’m not surprised.
It seems to be a local custom from the 16th century that may or may not have originated at the behest of a Lady Scudamore.
The idea is that you break a Pax Cake, which seem to be something like a pancake or perhaps a bun, with someone with whom you have quarreled.
It’s the cake version of burying the hatchet.
It’s a custom that is now only observed here and at Sellack on the other side of the river.
Speaking of Sellack that is where we are heading next.
We walk past the Tump, through a gate, across a private drive, and over a style, across a field, through a kissing gate, turning right onto Sellack Boat Road and down towards the river.
Once you reach the bottom of the hill the road veers off to the left but intrepid explorers that we are, we will continue strait along on a path that leads to a suspension footbridge across the river.
Until 1895 if you wanted to cross the river here you either had to get wet using the ford, or use the ferry service. Once the bridge was built in, you guessed it, 1895 the ferry, which had been running for centuries, was no longer needed.
The bridge was commissioned from the bridge builders Harper from Aberdeenshire.
The Suspension bridge carries not only walkers but also a grade two listing.
Can you see what I did there?
I really should be ashamed.
It’s said to be the finest example of a Lewis Harper bridge still in use in the UK.
The two churches at Kings Caple and Sellack shared a vicar who needed to get back and forth for services.
There seemed to be some ill will between the vicar and the ferry boatmen and the vicar on occasion had to resort to crossing the river on stilts.
Eventually enough was enough and the Reverend Augustin Ley organised the building of the bridge,largely at his own expense.
Once you’ve crossed the river it’s just a simple matter of going strait on following the path and using the now easily visible church as a guide.
St. Tysilio’s is another 13th century church. St. Tysilio was a Welsh Bishop and the second son of the reigning King of Powys, Brochwel Ysgithrog.
He did a bunk from his father’s court and took up the life of a monk despite his father’s attempts to get him back into the fold.
Eventually his father was persuaded to allow him to stay.
This church is dedicated to him.
In January of 2017 a dozen unidentified skeletons were discovered in a broom cupboard in the church.
The find was made by workmen who were converting the cupboard into a toilet.
A sealed crypt was also discovered.
The bodies are thought to have been buried about 600 years ago before the building of the bell tower.
Once you have finished having a nose around the church you come back out through the church gate and head back towards the style.
Cross this style, and turn left, cross another style, follow the footpath through the field that follows the line of the river.
We follow this path, and leap lithely over the style onto a track that we follow along the river and around a bend.
We climb over a style onto the road and ignoring the first left, take the second signed Kynaston and Hentland.
We follow this road until it bends sharply to the left at which point we follow the public footpath sign and take the track to the right.
We continue along this track until we reach the Y junction at the electricity pylon.
Here we take the right hand fork.
We follow this path past a field gate until we reach a kissing gate.
Go through the gate, and follow the path, keeping the hedge on your left.
Half way across the field we pass through another kissing gate.
Eventually we leave the field by a third.
So now I go strait across this track and on towards Hoarwithy.
I’ve finally reached the point in my walk where I can see all three churches, behind me, that’s kings caple church, over there I can see Sellack church where I’ve just come from and over there I can see Hoarwithy church, which will be the last of the three I’ll be visiting today.
We are going to follow this path as it descends the hill.
We climb over a style and into some woods.
We cross a track and pass a house called Quarry Bank keeping it on our right.
We follow the curving wooded path down until it reaches the road.
Here we turn left and follow the road into Hoarwithy.
Hoarwithy’s name was recorded in the 13 to 14th century as ‘La Horewythy’and means ‘At the willow tree on the boundary’.
It’s recorded in the doomsday book.
We continue over the delightfully named Wriggle Brook past the New Harp Inn to the Church of St. Catherine.
It’s been described as‚’The most impressive Victorian Church in the country’and “a complete work of revivalist art, rare for its date, an astonishing creation.”
The church itself might seem a little out of place. It looks like it would be more at Rome and with good reason.
Originally this was just a small chapel built in 1840.
Then in 1854 one William Poole was appointed to the position of vicar.
He wanted to spruce the place up a bit, describing the chapel as “An ugly brick building with no pretensions to any style of architecture.”
When he came into a bit of cash in 1870 he commissioned architect John Pollard Seddon to create this Italian Romanesque style building you see today.
Now it’s just a matter of getting back to the first church and of course the car.
We head back the way we came but this time we take the first road to the left which is signed for Kings Caple and Carey.
We follow this road across the river, taking a moment to admire the
peculiarly shaped toll house and of course the river.
The bridge we cross today is a modern replacement for the original wooden bridge built in 1856 and its iron replacement built in 1876.
Because this bridge was only capable of carrying up to seven tons it was replaced in 1990.
Once you are across the bridge, head strait on for about eighty meters then turn right onto the footpath just before the sign for Kings Caple.
This path soon widens out into a decent sized farm track.
Ignore the footpath to your left and follow this track until you reach road.
The track reaches the road at a corner so you want to take the right fork, which is actually strait on as you arrive at it.
Walk up this road until you reach a Y junction next to a house called Mayfields and take the left fork.
Follow this road up the hill and when you reach the next junction bear left.
This interestingly enough is a roman road, which used to cross the river to the west of us and link up with the major roman road to the east, which went up to Chester some eighty six miles north of here.
Keep heading up the hill and we find ourselves back at
Kings Caple church.
So that was the Three Churches walk. We’ve ended up where we began.
I hope you enjoyed watching this as much as I enjoyed walking it.
The Wye Valley is awash with really great walks and we will be bringing you plenty more.
Thanks for watching.
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