The first in our series of The Best of Herefordshire Country Walks is a particular favourite - incorporating a level walk along the banks of the River Wye, a modestly hilly section of the Wye Valley Walk, a visit to Fownhope village where there is a choice of two pubs, and a choice of return routes - either by road, across country, or along the riverbank. There is an optional detour to visit the beautiful arts and crafts church at Brockhampton.
The walk starts at the lay-by at the bottom of Capler Hill near Capler Cottages (SO587328). From here, head South-East following the footpath down to the River Wye and continue to follow the river downstream. Along this section you will see evidence of quarrying and old stone jetties in the river - stones were quarried here and transported by boat upstream to Hereford for the construction of Hereford Cathedral. There are also old kilns by the riverside. Follow the footpath along the riverbank for about 1km then head up the hill away from the river towards the Brinkley Hill Picnic Area and car park. From here turn left onto the road and head towards Brockhampton. You will soon enter the village and after a few hundred metres meet the route of the Wye Valley Walk (SO589317). Here you have a choice - either follow the route of the Wye Valley Walk to the North to the viewpoint at Capler Lodge (SO591324), or make a detour to Brockhampton Church (SO594322) by continuing on the road to the North-East.
Brockhampton Church is well worth a visit. It is one of the few thatched churches in the country, and although it looks quite old from the outside, it is a fairly modern church - it was built in 1902 in the Arts and Crafts style and has some fine examples of Burne Jones tapestries. Having visited the church, head back the way you came and turn right at the crossroads, picking up the route of the Wye Valley Walk at the viewpoint at Capler Lodge.
The view here is quite spectacular, often compared to that at Symonds Yat, but since it is less visited you are likely to have the place to yourself.
Continue to follow the Wye Valley Walk northwards to Capler Camp, an ancient hill fort where the double ramparts are very evident. At one time an entire community - perhaps hundreds of people would have occupied this camp in times of territorial dispute.
Follow the descending route from Capler Camp, crossing the B4224 and crossing undulating fields to the corner of Lea and Paget's Wood (SO599340). The woods are a nature reserve and offer a very pleasant and peaceful walk. Again there is evidence of old industry in the woods in the form of kilns. Follow the Wye Valley Walk along the edge of Woolhope dome, enjoying the views across to Haugh Wood until you reach the footpath descending to Fownhope (SO585342). A short stroll through the village takes you to the main road where there are two nice pubs - the Green Man, and The New Inn.
From here you have various choices - return to your starting point by the undulating road, follow the public footpath along the banks of the Wye, or take one of the alternative cross-country footpaths to Mansell's Ferry (SO576327) before heading east along the banks of the Wye to your starting point.
All images © Brian Hughes and The Best of Hereford Ltd