Harley's Mountain and Upper Lime Brook Valley


Harley's Mountain


7.5 miles (12.1kms)

1080ft (329m)
3hrs 30min

About the walk

After World War II, the nascent European Economic Community devised the well-intentioned Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to address food shortages. The policy did not embrace a diversity of farming conditions, practices and cultures, and could not foresee subsequent technological advances. In its later years the CAP fell into disrepute – its supporters might say because it was so successful – because surpluses resulted, and maintaining these perishable stores was costly. The scheme was also contentious because many of the larger players in the global food market, in particular the United States, were jumping up and down, saying (correctly, it seems) that exportation of such surpluses was illegal because they arose from subsidised production.

Set aside

It was therefore deemed necessary to reduce the European output – 'set-aside' was introduced in the 1992 CAP reforms. Under the scheme, farmers essentially left some fields 'unfarmed' and received financial compensation for loss of income. However, the scheme was completely contrary to the traditions, instincts and ethics of many in the farming community. In 2001, for example, farmers were obliged to leave 10 per cent of their food acreage out of food production. The payment (or 'compensation') received was partly dependent upon which side of the Welsh border your land lay. In England the rate was £88 per acre (£218 per hectare) but in Wales it was £77 per acre (£190 per hectare). Set-aside land could be used for growing 'industrial' as opposed to food crops. Set-aside land could be either part of a crop rotation or left for successive years. In environmental terms, favoured fields would be those adjacent to existing hedgerows, copses, commons and the like. However, in 2007 the obligatory rate was set at…0 per cent! It was only twelve months later, in 2008, when the EC agreed to abolish set-aside completely. Solutions to the agricultural economy have continued to tax policymakers for years since.

Walk directions

With the church tower behind you, walk forward and cross over to take the minor road signposted 'Willey'. When you reach the first bend, follow the fingerpost directly ahead. Walk up the left-hand edge of one paddock, followed by the right-hand edge of next and move right to find a stile, with a barn on your left and a muddy track in trees on your right.

Five paces to the right climb another stile and follow the left-hand field-edge marked by square fencing. With trees and power lines half-left, follow a waymarker up and slightly right. In the corner, go through a narrow metal gate (waymarked) to the side of a track. On reaching a brick-built cottage skirt right of this, and around the buildings of Mynde Farm (loose dogs may be present). Find a gate on the right behind a low building.

Turn right to go down and up a wide meadow to a stile seen from afar beside a prominent tree in the hedge. Go diagonally across (right) to a top field corner towards power lines and trees on the horizon, passing beside Mountain Buildings on a stony track. Where the track divides, take the left fork to two pine trees some 160yds (146m) further. Enter a large field. Go diagonally to a protruding hedge corner; then follow the hedge left for two field-edges. Within 200yds (183m) take a gate on the left. One field further along this breezy ridge reach another gate with a small pool to the right (possibly dry in high summer). Above and behind you is the trig point in the hedge.

Go straight ahead, not left, for over 0.75 miles (1.2km). Crossing arable fields and pastures using a farm track and following ‘Herefordshire Trail’ markers, descend to reach a minor road. Turn left for 120yds (110m), then left, signposted ‘Lingen’, soon passing the diminutive Primitive Methodist chapel. More than 0.5 miles (800m) further, turn right at a T-junction. Now in just 70yds (64m) take a fingerpost right, across a field to a stile, and down into the valley. Veer a fraction right, but don’t be misled by sheep tracks – pick your way down this, at times inordinately steep, pasture, to find a gate then a double-stiled footbridge in a boggy patch below three large ash trees.

Scramble up a short, wooded bank to walk with a field boundary on your left for about 250yds (229m), taking a deeply rutted farm track into a miniature valley with tall trees. Here ignore an option to fork right on a track, instead swinging left, ascending, alongside an old, square-wire fence. However, in just 80yds (73m), at a fence corner, keep ahead, to pass through a gap beside a defunct stile, to the left of a rusty barn. Walk 80yds (73m) diagonally left to a working stile. Walk up the left side of the field to a minor road.

Turn left, along the road, for 650yds (594m). Turn left at Hill Crest. Just past a large metal barn at Kite’s Nest take a track between hedges, not into a field 50yds (47m) beyond a new metal gate. When the outbuildings of New House are near your left take the lower, wider track, into pleasant woodland. On seeing a garden shed before Noisy Hall, fork left. Beside the house, initially keep just within the trees, on a narrow path close to pasture on your right. This goes deeper into woodland but after 600yds (549m) a kissing gate gives on to meadows. Two fields later, go into trees again (at a stile and gate, a large oak has grown around a gate bar), for a gently descending track. This becomes a deeply sunken, barrel-like lane between meadows once more. This ends at a dirt track to the public road, beside the Methodist church. Turn left through the village, then the lychgate to St Michael’s Church.

Additional information

Meadows, field paths, woodland tracks with roots, many stiles

Wooded hillsides and farmland, views to higher Welsh hills

Horses near Lingen but few sheep, 88 exciting woods

OS Explorer 201 Knighton & Presteigne

At St Michael's Church, Lingen (tuck in well)

None on route

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About the area

Discover Herefordshire

Herefordshire is split in two by the River Wye which meanders through the county on its way to the Severn and the sea. Largely rural, with Hereford, Leominster, and Ross-on-Wye the major towns and cities, its countryside and ancient villages are the county’s major asset.

Visitors can take advantage of a number of the trails which will guide them through areas of interest. Those especially interested in historic village life should try the Black and White Village Trail, which takes motorists on a 40-mile drive around timber-framed villages from Leominster to Weobley (established in the 17th century and known as a centre of witchcraft in the 18th), Eardisley (where the church boasts a 12th-century carved font), Kington, Pembridge and others. Other trails include the Mortimer Trail, the Hop Trail and the Hidden Highway, which goes from Ross-on-Wye to Chester. Hereford has a small Norman cathedral, which has a great forest of pink sandstone columns lining the nave. Inside is a chained library, a 13th-century Mappa Mundi (map of the world) and one of only four copies of the 1217 version of the Magna Carta.