Walk 3221 - printer friendly version
High Vinnalls, Burrington, & Richard's Castle Walk
Author - Peter Lane
Length - 11.0 miles / 17.9 km
Ascent - 2050 feet / 621 metres
Grade - mod/hard
Start - OS grid reference SO497718
Lat 52.341958 + Long -2.7397421
Postcode SY8 4DZ (approx. location only)
This outstanding walk explores some of the most fantastic woodland and countryside in Northern Herefordshire. The views to the surrounding hills are spectacular and the countryside rolls beautifully, making for a wonderful and, (in my case), unexpected experience of this predominantly rural county. Much of the route follows the Mortimer Trail and Herefordshire Trail leisure paths, as well as other named woodland walks. As with any woodland walk of this kind, map and compass skills are essential.
The start point scrapes into Herefordshire by just a few metres at the Black Pool Forestry Commission car park on the B4361 at grid reference SO497718. There is ample free parking here with picnic benches etc. for the more sedentary! Walk in a generally Northerly direction out of the car park towards picnic benches following signposts indicating the "Black Pool Loop". The path turns uphill and intersects with the Mortimer Trail, continue uphill here, ignoring other crossing paths. Coming to a Forestry road that crosses further up the hill, continue straight across following the green disc symbol of the Mortimer Trail (and the white Forestry "Climbing Jack" disc). The views to the surrounding hills from here are simply wonderful.
A little further up the seemingly endless (but less steep) climb the path forks with "Climbing Jack" going left. Here continue along the Mortimer Trail to the right, ever gaining more height, but more gently now. As a wide path merges from the left, the Mortimer Trial ahead curves sharply left. To the right just after the merging path a downhill path signed "Vinnall's Loop" in a dark green disc marks the continuation. The path curves to the left and descends through woodland to a complex junction with Forestry roads. Go straight ahead, following the "Vinnall's Loop" dark green marker posts all the way to the Mortimer Wood car park.
Turn left out of the car park onto the road. Three features along the Mortimer Forest geological trail are found along this section of road. As the road starts to rise, look out for a track heading off on the right up to a steel gate, which is our route through Monstay Rough. The first waymark is next to the gate some 100 metres from the road. Continue along this broad wooded path, contouring along the hillside. Take care not to miss the very narrow continuation of the bridlepath on the right, signposted by a blue arrow waymark and proceeding into thick woods.
Coming to a gate and a field with a dilapidated barn to the right, descend to the line of the fence opposite and follow around until coming to a metal gate, yellow arrow waymarked. Through the gate cross a small brook and follow more waymarks as the path twists right and uphill to a field. Turn left here, keeping the hedge on the left and emerge at New House. Turn left past New House along the tarmac lane and follow it all the way to Burrington, meeting up with the Herefordshire Trail along the way.
At the "T" junction just past the red phone box go straight ahead, following the well marked Herefordshire Trail as it climbs at first and soon flattens out. Cross a stream via a footbridge and follow the hedge-line of a field until it meets a footpath at a "T" junction. Look out for the wooden windmill on the hill opposite and slightly to the right. At the junction turn left and follow the Herefordshire Trail all the way to Elton Farm, turning off the farm track at a metal gate with the Herefordshire Trail waymark. Follow the hedge-line across the field, bypassing the farm and through another gate opposite regain the farm access as it emerges at a road near Elton Hall.
Cross over and continue along a path that passes the Hall and emerges in a field. Contour around to the right now and follow the line of the stream. Waymarking becomes sparse, but the path does not depart from the stream until the woods on the left are gone. At a metal gate on the edge of Kingacre Wood proceed through a field past a corrugated barn on the other side of the stream and then cross the stream over a footbridge (with Herefordshire Trail waymark) at a very muddy spot. Climb the hilly track from the footbridge as it turns left and opens into a field. A slender path can be made out on the ground as it climbs gently to a metal gate where we re-enter the woods. The views here are particularly beautiful.
Through this gate ignore the crossing track and climb more steeply up a muddy track, regaining the dark green "Vinnall's Loop" markers. Near the top of the hill the path does an "S" bend left and right. Exit the path before the "S" bend taking the unmarked path 90 degree right where the wood clears with a large field to the right. After 100 metres waymarks re-appear. Turn right, following the line of the clearing past Vallets house. The views here are probably the best of the route. Ranging views in all directions show off hills and forest in all their splendour. The white "golf ball" like radar structure on top of Titterstone Clee Hill will become a useful landmark later on.
Descending this route a marker for the Mortimer Trail appears on a marker post with a bridlepath signed to the right also. Fork left here, following the general direction indicated downhill away from the hedge-line and into a sliver of a field that emerges onto a track. Part way along the track at a metal gate the Herefordshire Trail re-appears. Leave the Mortimer Trail through the gate taking the Herefordshire Trial and follow the hedge-line on the left to another gate. Go down the rutted track on the left after this gate and follow the Herefordshire Trail as it flanks Richard's Castle earthwork until St Bartholomew's Church can be seen on the left. A metal gate indicates the continuation, heading towards this church and leaving the main track that leads to farm buildings.
You may like to take some time to explore the Church now. Otherwise, emerge onto a lane, turning slightly left from the church access road. Go straight ahead at a road junction, crossing into Shropshire. Walk some 600 metres until a green lane emerges on the left. This is easy to miss and the final section of this route is the hardest to navigate, so be alert! At the emergence of the green lane a small metal gate cum wooden stile leads into a field. The only indication of a footpath at the time of writing is some yellow tape on the top bar of the metal.
Descend this field and follow the line around to the left, passing a house on the left. Ignoring the access road on the right, continue straight over to climb up the hill past the furthest house and turn slightly right. Climb briefly up a steep bank after which the path becomes more distinct. Follow this seldom used path as it flanks the woodland all the way to Black Pool. Just before the pool itself, the path drops to a stream, cross, climb up the other side and soon the path returns you to the start point.