A4: A tour of the Beacon Hill Heath

This is a pleasant circular walk  on newly made heathland on the sloping plateau above the western edge of the Wye Valley, above Llandogo and Bigsweir. Some fantastic views and maybe a pony or two to see. It can be combined with A3 for a longer walk. If you are feeling really energetic the walk can be extended to a 9.5 mile circuit from Brockweir to the Beacon


  • Grade: Easy – a relatively level, straightforward , walk
  • Length:3.5 miles
  • Key Features: Ponies grazing the heathland; views over the Black Mountains from the Beacon, and down the Wye Valley to the estuary from Duchess’s Ride.
  • Refreshments: Trellech, Llandogo or Tintern

For an interactive version of this map click the image above or here


Drive towards Trellech on the Llandogo road, and about ¼ mile before reaching Trellech take the lane (called Beacon Road – but there are no signs saying that!) off on your right going towards Beacon Hill, where there is a car park.

Take the footpath out of the car park, past the signpost, to a track where you go left. After 50 yards or so you will find yourself at the Beacon Hill viewpoint, where on a fine day you can take in views of the Black mountains and the Brecon Beacons.

Continue past the viewpoint, through a metal gate, and straight on at a crossroads. Go down to the bottom of the hill, and turn right. You find yourself on a path with open heathland on your right, and conifers on your left. When you get to a crossroads with a metal gate on the right hand side, turn left following the yellow waymarked path.

Continue to follow the yellow way mark across another – but this time ‘staggered’ -crossroads. Eventually you will come to a section of the path with a row of boulders on the right hand side (Feb 2015 – these boulders have been removed for Forestry operations leaving a large muddy patch, but the wooden post with waymarks on is still there), follow the waymarked path to the right onto a muddy path through the trees.

This emerges onto a forest track (the Wye valley walk) where you go right (the yellow way mark is missing here), carry along this for about ¼ mile, and on the left hand side you will find the Duchess’s Ride viewpoint. After you have drunk in the view, carry along the Wye valley walk until you reach a section where several paths converge, and where there is a bench to sit down on while you decide which one you should be taking.

For this walk you need to go sharp right, back on yourself – taking the path immediately next to the bench. There’s quite a long stretch through trees and you continue straight along until eventually you find yourself back where you were earlier, but this time you turn left going through the wooden gate next to a metal gate.

At this point you are going back into the heathland section and you walk uphill, continuing straight on until you reach another metal gate, with a small wooden gate to the side. Go through this into a patch of conifers, and continue straight on regardless of other paths.

As you come out of the conifers the path takes a sharp right bend. Follow the waymarks, and you will find itself back to the original track going from the car park to the Beacon Hill viewpoint. Turn left to go back to the car park, or right to have another look at the spectacular views from the viewpoint

The walk

We did this walk on a penetratingly cold day. Snow from the previous week had mixed with rain, and then re- frozen to make a crisp crunchy white topping, which gave way in places to muddy bits.

The area around Beacon Hill has been felled to allow heathland to develop, a process which is being helped by four Welsh Mountain ponies. When we saw two of these, they were clearly hopeful that we might be able to relieve the tedium of the icebound days, but after a brief consideration decided that their time was best spent cracking the ice on the puddles with their hooves in an attempt to find some water.

The top of the Beacon and the area where this walk goes is a sloping plateau, which on the day we went was bounded by horizontal purplish clouds. The view at the Duchess’s ride had some fairy tale qualities as well. We were there late in the afternoon, and had just missed the sun burnishing the leaves, but instead white mist was coming off the river as it wended its way down towards the Severn estuary. The sun was setting over the pink waters of the estuary, and there were tiny fluffy pink clouds to complete the Christmas card feel of this scene ( see Home page for photo).

Walking back up, the light was beginning to dwindle, and on the uphill stretch across the heath the serrated edges of conifers cut jaggedly into the sky. It was dark walking through the trees, and a relief to emerge into an area of immature birch and beech. The beech was clinging on to its caramel colored leaves, whilst the birch had discarded such fripperies and was posing in elegant nakedness, drawing attention to the purple colouring of its outermost branches.

We made a last detour up to the viewpoint to watch the sun setting behind Sugar Loaf and Blorenge, making the lights of Trellech looks very puny in comparison.

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