Wye Valley: Llandogo to Monmouth via Trellech

I was in the Wye Valley to visit some vineyards - Parva Farm in Tintern, then Ancre Hill just outside of Monmouth the following day. As I wanted to relax and enjoy the wines, and maybe fit in a country pub, and also because I quite enjoy a challenge, I had decided to do it all without resorting to driving.

As you can imagine for quite an idyllic rural area, the stretch of the Wye Valley between Chepstow and Monmouth is not incredibly well served for public transport. However, like last time I did a walk in the area I knew at least I could get a train to Chepstow, which is a good start. From there I found there was a bus, if I timed it right, to get me to Tintern for the first vineyard (although in the end I spotted a taxi in Chepstow and used that instead).

My original plan from there was to then either walk, or get another bus, to Redbrook / Penallt, so I could visit The Boat Inn, but the timing of my visit was a bit unfortunate, happening to coincide with a change of ownership at the Boat, and so they would be closed for a few days.

So I had a rethink, and decided instead I would aim to visit The Lion Inn at Trellech, which my family used to own in the late 1980s. Thus, post Tintern, I settled on the plan of getting the bus as far as Llandogo (the closest I could get), then walking up the hill from there to Trellech, and after the pub walking from Trellech into Monmouth.

I obviously hadn't adequately studied the contour lines on the OS map. It's a 200m climb from the road at the bottom of Llandogo up to Cleddon at the top of the hill, and you know what, it's really bloody steep. Especially as I managed to lose the footpath at some point, and was essentially scrambling up through the undergrowth. With a backpack which had just got heavier for obvious reasons having just visited a vineyard, and, being my ridiculous self, a suit bag in one hand, as I'd be staying in Monmouthshire for the next few nights.

This was really a struggle and I had to stop several times to catch my breath! Still, I did at least occasionally have glimpses through the trees of the lovely views down the Wye Valley, and I suspect some of the better positioned houses of Llandogo must have spectacular vistas.

So it was a great relief when I finally got to Cleddon at the top!

I was looking forward to seeing Cleddon Falls, which I just about remember having visited in my youth, but apparently there hadn't been much rain recently, and so it was not at its most dramatic.

From Cleddon to Trellech the landscape was more or less flat and therefore this section was a much more pleasant stroll! Very nice weather today, and even the bits where I had to resort to walking along the road were very agreeable.

On arrival in Trellech, I decided to take a brief detour to go and see the standing stones, which seemed appropriate given the proximity to midsummer's day. Of course they haven't changed in the last 30 years or so I've known them for, which is somewhat reassuring considering they are probably 3000 years old.

Then on, with some slight apprehension, to the Lion Inn at Trellech. I don't think I've actually been back since my family sold it, around 30 years ago. I was therefore delighted on entering to see it had barely changed at all. Really very close to how I remember it. So I spent a very happy couple of hours here enjoying the atmosphere, reminiscing a bit, and had an early dinner, conscious of the fact I still had a fair bit of walking ahead of me. So, just after 6pm I bade farewell to the Lion, and set out once again, this time in the direction of Monmouth.

I'd plotted the route beforehand on the OS maps site, and the estimate it gave was 2 hours exactly. In the end it turned out to be 2 and a half. I don't think I dawdled particularly, and barely stopped at all other than for the occasional photo or a swig of water, but they weren't particularly major footpaths, and in a few places had become quite overgrown, which slowed my progress somewhat.

The first section was across Trellech Common, an area of woodland which I'm sure I had explored many times as a child - both when the family were running the pub in Trellech, then later when Dad lived in the nearby village of The Narth - but somehow it looked unfamiliar today.

Beyond there I skirted past the edge of Penallt (somewhere else Dad had once lived), which was probably roughly the halfway point.

After that began the gradual descent down the hill into Monmouth.

On the way down I was treated some lovely views of the landscape laid out before me. Looking north and slightly to the west, I could see rolling hills, patchwork fields, and in the distance the Black Mountains bathed in golden evening sunlight. There didn't seem to be anyone else for miles around and I think this was probably the highlight of the walk.