Clytha and Coed-y-Bwnydd walk
A ramble through an 18th-century estate, taking in the wildlife-rich River Usk and Coed-y-Bwnydd - the largest and one of the best preserved hill forts in Monmouthshire. There are beautiful views of the Sugarloaf and wider Usk Valley, and of Clytha Castle, one of the outstanding 18th-century follies of Wales.
Clytha riverside car park SO361085
From the car park take the gate next to the interpretation panel and continue on until you reach a gate down on your left. Follow the River Usk Walk way-markers, which run adjacent to the river for approximately 1.8 miles (3km), until you meet the road.
The River Usk
The Usk flows past the western edge of Clytha Estate. It's incredibly important for nature conservation in the area and is a place of tranquility. It's designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation and is well known for its salmon and trout. Wildlife watching can be very rewarding, with otters, dippers, sandmartins, kingfishers and bats all living in or near this stretch of the river.
Turn left up the road and continue for about half a mile (1km). As the road flattens out at the top of the hill, just before you start descending into Bettws Newydd, look out for a gate on your right next to a telegraph pole, partly covered by a hedge. Follow the path through the gate and across the field. Continue into the golf club car park and exit onto the minor road it connects to. Turn right and continue for 50m, then turn left into a lane leading up to the church.
Enter the church gates and go over the stile at the other end of the church. Turn right then immediately left and continue until you reach a stile on your left. Continue uphill, cross the stiles and head down the road on the other side of the hill. Follow the narrow lane uphill between two buildings until you reach Coed y Bwnydd hill fort on your left. Follow the circular path round the hill fort and return by the field gate close to the original fort entrance.
Coed y Bwnydd hill fort
Coed y Bwnydd is the largest and possibly best preserved hill fort in Monmouthshire. A scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM), it has a history of human involvement stretching back more than 2,000 years. Today it's the perfect place to drink in the views, particularly in spring when the carpet of bluebells, campion and orchids add a dazzling array of colour.
Go through the gate and follow the permissive path past the barn at the other end of the field. Go over the stile and turn left onto the lane. Continue walking and keep left where the lane forks until you reach a kissing gate on your left. Cross the stile and follow the path down the grassy hill, through the gap in the line of trees and continue over two stiles until you reach the woods behind Clytha Castle. Follow the wooden signposts to Clytha.
Considered as one of the outstanding 18th-century follies of Wales, the castle was designed by John Davenport and built by William Jones of Clytha House with the purpose of 'relieving a mind afflicted with the loss of a most excellent wife'. It's now owned by the National Trust and leased to the Landmark Trust who rent it out for holidays.
Make your way to the front of the castle, through the woods and the gate, along the grassy ridge above the trees to the driveway. Cross the drive where the fenced wood ends and follow the line of trees diagonally uphill to a gate in the top corner of the grounds. Follow the waymarked route over two more stiles and a gate, leading to steep steps and the busy B4598.
Carefully cross this road to the road turning for Clytha Arms on the opposite side. Pass through the metal gate immediately in front of you and continue over the stile. Follow the waymarked route crossing a horse paddock and several fields until you reach a wood near Chapel Farm.
Pass through the kissing gates into the wood and follow the path winding through the trees running parallel with the A40. Just after the path opens out and passes close to the A40, it joins Clawdd Brook, which it follows until reaching a gate at the woodland edge.
Continue along the waymarked route round the back of Rose Cottage and through the remnants of an old milk churn dock, to a gate leading to the edge of the main road. Cross the road and pass through the metal wicket gate. Head to the far left corner of the field, crossing a short timber bridge just before a gate. Pass through the gate leading you back onto the Usk Riverside Walk and continue around the sharp left bend back to the car park.
Clytha riverside car park SO361085
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