PRESTEIGNE, STAPLETON CASTLE, WILLEY COURT, STOCKING WOOD
4.5 miles (7.5 km) Allow 2.25 — 2.5hrs.
Stapleton Castle, Herefordshire
An easy walk from a Radnorshire town passing ruins of castle and into pleasant woodlands passing farms with unusual and extensive views.
Parking in Presteigne`s several C.R’s – Memorial Hall; By-Pass or Hereford Street.
Proceed to town centre and commence from Public Library on Broad Street corner.
Map OS. 148: SO315642.
Walk 10 Walk submitted by Raymond & Betty Lloyd, revised by John & Jenny Kendall
NB This walk is very muddy round Willey Hall Farm in section 3, and should not be attempted in wet weather.
(1) From the Judge’s Lodging and Tourist Information Centre on Broad Street, walk to the north past St Andrew’s church on the left. Cross the river Lugg bridge into Herefordshire. Continue along this road to reach the junction signposted Kinsham to the right.
(2) Turn right and immediately left over the stile by the signpost into the field. Then go diagonally (R) to a stile in the hedge, near a power line post. Go on to another stile on the same line, with Stapleton Castle directly in view. Cross the stile and proceed straight ahead on a path between a hedge and a fence to a corner stile, then turn (R) onto a metalled road. Soon turn (L) along the passage between the white cottage, Pear Tree Cottage, and the next building, Baker’s Farm. Pass through the gate and follow the grassy track, keeping near to the hedge at first. Then go over a stile by a gate, cross a track and walk straight ahead to a gate facing you at the edge of the trees. (Stapleton Castle presents a fine picture on the right, and was once a 17th century fortified manor house. Wapley Hill lies behind the castle ruin with Cole’s Hill further round to the left.) Through the gate, continue ahead on the hillside on a grassy track through light woodland, and uphill to where the ground dips a little to a waymarked stile into the wood. Follow the waymarked path through the wood into the field and bear slightly (L) over the hill to a corner lying out of view at first. It is close to the solitary cottage and lies to its left side.
(3) Cross the stile by the signpost and turn (R) to pass behind the cottage. Walk up through the plantation on the waymarked path which twists and turns until, by a waymark on a tree, it suddenly turns (R) along a straight avenue and then descends crossing a series of small bridges across ditches until you reach a forest road. Turn (L) and then shortly afterwards turn right onto a signposted and waymarked path uphill. Cross the stile at the top and follow the muddy track ahead to pass to the (L) side of Willey Hall Farm and through the gate. Go past the pond and cross the field aiming a little left of Goat House Farm on the hillside in front of you to reach a stile over a low brow. Follow the hedge line until a stile on the edge of the conifer wood. Contour through the wood until a stile at the northwestern edge of the wood. Go straight up a small valley for 50 yards and then turn R up a bank to a stile and fingerpost at the metalled road close to the track to Goat House Farm.
(4) Here turn left and soon start on the descent and return half of the walk. This is called Stocking Hill whereas the farm lower down the hill is called Stocken Farm. Where the roads starts to go downhill steeply, there are fine views. (Presteigne lies ahead in the valley; part of Norton village is visible on the right with Hawthorn Hill behind it and Offa’s Dyke Path over its brow. On clear days you will see Radnor Forest with Black Mixen and the Whimble in the distance, and behind Presteigne lie Hanter Hill and the long straight skyline of Hergest Ridge above Kington.) Continue downhill passing Stocken farm and its lovely old farmhouse and duck pond. About 250m beyond the farm, where the lane bends sharply to the right by power lines, turn (L) at the signpost through the gate.
(5) Follow the track through the field and downhill heading for the power line pole to the (R) of the big tree. You will then see the stile in the hedge ahead of you. Cross the lane and go over the stile facing you, and then aim diagonally slightly to the (L) heading for the solitary tree, from which you will head down to the stile over a ditch. Cross the stile and continue round the (LH) side of the next field to a stile in the hedge, then across the field to a stile opposite the white house ahead. Turn (R) and retrace your steps to Broad Street and the starting point.
Presteigne, once the county town of Radnorshire, was a staging post for the Aberystwyth to London stage coaches, hence it had 26 hostelries or inns, of which 5 survive including the Radnorshire Arms. All tourist services are available in the town. A good viewpoint is The Warden, site of an ancient motte & bailey castle.