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Kyrle-on-Wye

An easy perambulation, enjoying the legacy of a Ross philanthropist.

Distance 3.3 miles (5.3km)

Minimum time 1hr 45min

Ascent/gradient 330ft (100m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Suburban streets, woodland and riverside paths, no stiles

Landscape Classical town built on hill overlooking river

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 189 Hereford & Ross-on-Wye orOL14 Wye Valley & Forest of Dean

Start/finish SO 582239

Dog friendliness Limited off-lead opportunities

Parking Car park on B4260 between Wilton Bridge and Ross-on-Wye

Public toilets In town

1 Find a Wye Valley Walk board at the back of the car park, behind the skate-boarding area. Cross the footbridge to take the upward path, initially just slightly left (quite steep). At a junction, turn very sharply right on a level path, called The John Kyrle Walk, just a few paces before a multiple waymarker. After about 500yds (457m) go through a gate and descend some steps to a hollow. Turn left. This becomes a tarmac path, emerging by a house called The Cleeve. Turn left. At a road go straight across, continuing on a path beside houses. Keep on this alleyway as it crosses several residential streets, to reach the disused railway line. Turn left. Follow this, decorated with trees and occasional picnic tables, to a junction on the B4234. Cross over to take Fernbank Road (off Eastfield Road). Keep straight ahead, ignoring Woodmeadow Road. The road becomes a track, rising steadily, entering Chase Wood.

2 Turn left just before the buildings of Hill Farm, through a gate on a descending path. After about 30yds (27m) take the larger, left fork, to soon descend on a stepped path. At the bottom reach a T-junction. Turn right. At a gate turn left, following a right-hand field edge. Cross the railway again. An alleyway becomes a cul-de-sac. Turn right into Merrivale Lane but cross immediately to a narrow alleyway beside an electricity sub station. Turn right. Keep on the tarmac when it turns left. At the end of this road (The Avenue) turn right, then immediately left into Ashfield Crescent. Next take the first right then, at a skew crossroads, go along Redhill Road. Pass Ashfield Park Avenue and the primary school. Turn right at a crowd of waymarkers. (Here you are not many paces from a point on the outward walk.) Take the fenced path beside the school's playing fields. Shortly you'll reach the large churchyard. At the wall of The Prospect turn left to enter it through the 1700 gateway.

3 Leave The Prospect by the gateway close to St Mary's Church. John Kyrle was buried in the chancel here. Leave the church grounds by the main entrance, passing the fine, sandstone Rudhall's Almshouses (1575). Turn left into Church Street, then right at a T-junction, to reach the Market Hall and, opposite it on the right, John Kyrle's house. Retrace your steps up High Street, passing the end of Church Street. Stay on High Street until its end. (The tourist information centre is just on the right-hand corner here.) From this junction walk perhaps 70yds (64m) along Wilton Road to see the stone gazebo (formerly Collins' Tower, after its owner), then return to the junction.

4 Now pass in front of the Man of Ross public house (the plaque in front of it describes the 18th-century problems of muddy streets). Descend steps to reach the river beside the Hope and Anchor pub. Turn left. (Here the wheel for pumping water up to the town once stood.) Follow the tarmac path when it turns left. Go through the white bollards and across the road. Go diagonally across the grass to the pedestrian subway - this leads back to the car park.

It's as hard to avoid the name John Kyrle in Ross-on-Wye as it is to avoid William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. Kyrle (1637-1724) was a wealthy man, though not stinking rich. He studied law but didn't qualify. From his early 20s he lived a frugal lifestyle, generous with his money and, more importantly, the type of person who 'made things happen'.

To date, historians have failed to find any blemish upon his character; the nearest thing to it seems to have been having to go to a petty court for failing to remove a dung-heap from outside his house - it isn't known whether the horse was his.

The Prospect is perhaps the most tangible legacy left by John Kyrle - a place for relaxation, and, most important at the time (1696), a fountain providing a ready supply of water to the townsfolk.

The 1830s was a period of great activity in Ross, sparked by the 1830 Improvement Act (which primarily addressed sewage and drainage). The gazebo, together with the nearby Royal Hotel, dates from 1837, when large amounts of the red sandstone were hacked away from the modest cliff to build what is now Wilton Road.

While you're there

Occupying the prime centre spot, you should go inside the Market Hall. Before returning to your car, go a little further along the riverside to Wilton Bridge. Built in 1597, it was strengthened with concrete ties in 1914. A public footpath circumnavigates the remains of nearby Wilton Castle.

What to look for

The architectural historian Pevsner called the Italianate Baptist chapel in Broad Street 'very terrible', yet its architect, G C Haddon, also designed the chapels at Dulas and Ewyas Harold.

Where to eat and drink

Ross-on-Wye has plenty of pubs, tea rooms and restaurants. On the walk are the Man of Ross, above the river, and the Hope and Anchor, beside the river.

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