Hendomen and Ford of Rhydwhyman walk
This is a pleasant circular walk from Montgomery out to Hendomen, the site of a medieval timber motte-
- Going: Easy
- Distance: 3 miles. The walk takes 2 hours+ including time to take in the views
From the Town Hall walk past the shops along Broad Street and out towards the ‘Ivy House’ Cafe. Turn left onto Princes Street and take the Newtown road out of Montgomery (B4385). Keep walking straight on and ignore roads off to the left and right of this main road. You will soon walk out of Montgomery, passing steep rocky cliffs on your left to where the 30mph speed limit turns into the national 60mph limit.
After 1/2 mile walking along the footpath beside the road you will see a Trekking Path signpost on your right. Climb over the gate and follow the track ahead along the field, keeping the hedge on your left.
At the far left-hand corner of the field climb over the secured gate and go through the small swing gate and head straight ahead down the field to the next gate.
When we took these photos, we were greeted at the next gate by 15 or so young, curious cattle. They were very tame and followed us across the field playing 'Grannies Steps'. Every time we turned around they would freeze, only to follow us closely when we walked away. Very funny and a great addition to our walk. Head for the next swing gate across the far side of the field and go through it.
Go slightly left here and head uphill through a gate (either large or small will do) and towards the top of the paddock.
After passing through the next swing gate you will see the final swing gate ahead and slightly to the left. The farmer may have roped off the route here to contain their horses. Just go under or over the rope as you bear left.
Go through the gate onto the narrow lane. As you exit the gate you will see a collection of trees across the road to your left behind a large hedge. This is the location of 'Hen Domen' a 940+ years old medieval timber castle set atop an 8 metre high earth mound with surrounding bailey. 'Hen Domen' was built in the 1070s (not long after the Norman conquest) by Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury who named it Montgomery after his home in Normandy. Roger of Montgomery was lord of large areas of land in Powys and an important noble in the new Norman world.
This was the first of several fortifications in the region designed to protect the important mid wales River Severn crossing known as the 'Ford of Rhydwhyman' - the destination of this walk just 1/2 mile away now.
Turn right down the lane and after a hundred metres or so turn left down a descending lane. This leads down to the River Severn around 1/2 mile away.
Shortly down the lane you will cross the Shrewsbury - Welshpool - Aberystwyth railway line. Carefully look both ways before crossing quickly via the gates, ensuring they close behind you. Then continue a short way down the lane to where it meets another road.
Directly across the road in front of you flows the River Severn and the important shallow crossing place - the 'Ford of Rhydwhyman'. There is an information board describing some of the history and importance of this often fought over ancient river crossing point.
Spend some time enjoying this peaceful spot and imagining the scene as people, cattle and goods were transported to and from its banks over the nearly 1000 years of the history we are covering here. The whole existence of Montgomery Town, its castle and fortifications, are closely related to this river crossing. Montgomery Castle is just the latest, strongest, and most formidable fortification in the sequence.
To start the return journey go back across the road and walk up the lane that you came down. About half way up the lane, pause to look across the fields to your left. There in the distance you can see the important valley between hills that leads directly back to Shrewsbury, just 20 or so miles distant. This is part of the reason why the ford was so important through the centuries and why our fortifications were constructed nearby.
At the top of the lane back into Hendomen village, you come to a junction. Turn left and then bear right down the opposite lane. There are lovely views of Montgomery and the castle set high on its rocky outcrop from here. Remember this elevated viewpoint from Hendomen village - you will be looking back at it from Montgomery a little later in this walk.
Horses, sheep and cattle frequent the farms and fields down this lane adding contrast to the surrounding scenery.
Over to your right as you walk down this lane you will get an interesting viewpoint of Montgomery Castle, and if you have a camera with a zoom lense can capture some distant shots.
This view of the castle would have been the views of Loyalist soldiers, back on the morning of 18th September 1644, as they approached the castle to take part in the final large battle with the Parliamentarians during the civil war. The Parliamentarians were waiting for them in their camp in the large, high woods to the right of the castle as viewed from here. The Parliamentarians descended to meet the Loyalists and the battle took place in the fields ahead of you towards the end of this lane.
Continue along the lane ahead to a crossroads on the outskirts of Montgomery. Go straight ahead along New Road until you reach the Montgomery - Chirbury road. Turn right there and walk towards Montgomery. Pass the Fire Station on your left and a hundred metres or so on the left, pass a row of 4 small, old terraced cottages, which are thought to have housed a woollen mill. Take the small path next to the paddock on the other side of the white cottages. Walk up the footpath and enjoy the view of Montgomery Castle when you reach the top. You can also see along the Severn valley down to Welshpool.
Casting your eyes over to the right of the castle, follow the tree line downwards to where you will see the white fronted cottages of Hendomen village nestling below, just above the River Severn valley. You can clearly see the place where you looked back across to Montgomery a little while back.
Continue to walk up the path next to the white fronted cottage, and look over to the left to get a lovely view of Corndon Hills 8 or so miles distant.
Keeping going up, past Montgomery Primary School. When you reach the church wall, turn right into a road at a triangular island and then turn left into the church gate and enter the churchyard. If you bear immediately right, you can stop off at the Robber's Grave. You can pass the church either to the right or left as you walk through its grounds. (The Church is also well worth a visit when you have a little time on your hands.)
Leave the church yard at the far end and turn right. Proceed down the hill to return to Broad Street and your start point and Cafés where you can rest and recuperate.
(Why not take a short walk later from the centre of Montgomery to another fortification site, as detailed here: Ffridd Faldwyn HillFort walk )