Clytha short circular walk
Ramble through this timeless estate in Monmouthshire and take in all the lovely views, rich history and stunning wildlife.
Clytha riverside car park SO361085
From the car park, take the gate to the right of the interpretation panel and continue for 220yd (200m). Follow the path around to the right and on alongside the River Usk. After about 660yd (600m), go through the second gate on the right (with the stone counterweight) and head slightly up hill and around the field edge to the metal wicket gate leading onto the road.
Take care crossing the road. Pass through the wooden gate to the left of an old milk churn dock on your right. After a short distance pass through a wicket gate on your left. Follow the route along the field edge behind some woodland and the back of Rose Cottage garden. The path leads to a wooden kissing gate that takes you into Twyn y Cregan Woods. Follow the waymarked signs through the woodland tracking the course of Clawdd Brook before passing close to the A40 and heading up to the edge of the woods. Before you turn left take in the views across Clytha Park to Clytha Castle. The path now follows a track at the edge of the woods with parkland on your right. After 440yd (400m) you will meet another track, turn left (note there is no Public Right of Way through the farmyard), then immediately right and follow a path that meanders through the trees. The path brings you out behind a hedge by a track. When the hedge ends cross the track diagonally to your left to a kissing gate that enters a field by a large oak tree. If you end up at the back of Chapel Farm you’ll need to turn around and find the kissing gate on your right.
Clytha's veteran trees
Around 100 veteran trees are dotted around Clytha Estate, including oak, sweet chestnut and beech. Many are tucked away out of sight, but as you reach point 2, you'll see a split veteran oak tree, hundreds of years old and a rich habitat for dozens of species. As you continue around the back of Chapel Farm, shortly before point three, you will find two more veteran oak trees. The sweet chestnuts and lime trees near Clytha Castle are also worth looking out for.
Keeping the oak tree to your left follow the route across the field to a stile. As you cross the field, you will pass several stones on your left. These are the ruins of St Aeddan's Chapel - Capel Aedan - founded in 1188 by Aedan of Gwaethfoed. After crossing the first stile continue to follow the way marked route south through several fields and gates. You eventually cross a horse paddock and heading to the top right-hand corner of this field go over the stile and follow a short section of track to a metal gate near the road. To your left is the drive leading to the Clytha Arms pub. Cross the road very carefully to a flight of steep stone steps up to the top of a bank where the walk continues.
This Chapel was still in existence in the 14th century, but later ruined. By 1957, it was just a heap of stones with some architectural features. Surrounding Capel Aedan is the site of a deserted medieval village (DMV), where it's suggested the original Klytha Manor stood.
After passing through the gate at the top of the steps, keep right at the edge of the fields and continue following the waymarkers over a couple of stiles and right through a gate back into Clytha Park on the top of low hill. Follow the line of lime trees diagonally down to the concrete track. These trees used to be the avenue leading to Clytha Castle from Clytha House. When you reach the track, turn left, following the track uphill taking the right fork up to the castle. Pass through a metal gate across the track and into Castle Woods. The track takes you up to Clytha Castle. Please respect the privacy of those staying at the castle.
Considered one of the outstanding 18th-century follies of Wales, it 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 owned by the National Trust and leased to the Landmark Trust who rent it out for holidays.
Take a little time to admire this remarkable property and the views across the Sugar Loaf and Skirrid. Follow the wooden signs that direct you along a track that runs down behind the Castle. Pass through the wooden field gate at the edge of Castle Wood and back onto parkland. The path follows a grassy track downhill along the ridge of a steep bank with scattered trees. When the trees end, turn left back under the bank with parkland to your right. After 220yd (200m) bear right and downhill until you reach a small metal wicket gate by the road. Pass through the gate, turn immediately left and walk along the road for 50m and then turn right back into the car park where you started your walk.
'There are prospects far more extensive but few so pleasing: nature has placed the hills and mountains at such fortunate distances from this point of view that the eye is lost in the endless variety of bewitching scenery and knows not on what object to rest.’ Coxe (1801), describing the view from Clytha Castle.
Clytha riverside car park SO361085
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