This short circular walk of just over 2 miles through the fields to the north of Breinton Common will allow you to see several ice age features along with far reaching views. You will walk along a ridge from which two valleys emerge. Today no streams flow in these valleys, but they are interpreted as once occupied by torrents of glacial meltwater flowing from an ice sheet on the ridge and surrounding area.
Explore the walk by clicking the markers (B1 to B14) on the walk map below.
Download a printable copy of the map
Along this short circular walk of 2.8 miles (4.5 km) through the fields to the north of Breinton Common will see several Ice Age features along with far reaching views.\n\nYou will walk along a ridge from which two valleys emerge. Today no streams flow in these valleys, but they are believed to have once been occupied by torrential streams of glacial meltwater flowing uphill beneath the ice sheet.
Glacial meltwater channels and the Breinton gorge of the River Wye. Image is from a present day sub-glacial meltwater channel.
This is the recommended parking place for the Breinton circular walk with space for several cars. Grid reference SO 459 398, half a mile east of Breinton Common village whose postcode is HR4 7PR. Two other potential parking spots are SO 464 409, which is on the walking route at the junction of Breinton Lane and Green Lane north of location B10, or at Breinton Village Hall at SO 4677 402 about 200 m south-east of location B11.
Cyclists following the landscape tour part 1 may wish to take a shortened walk, leaving their cycles along the bridleway leading north from Breinton Common village, visiting sites B6 and B7, then returning to the road.
Stout footwear recommended. It can be slippery underfoot. Stiles to be negotiated.
Our walk will tells the story of how the landscape changed: before, during and after the Ice Age.
Before the Ice Age
Before the Ice Age, there was a river we call the proto-Wye that flowed to Hereford, but well north of here.
During the last Ice Age say 23,000 years ago, ice came from Wales and covered the whole area as far as Hereford. Some glacial meltwater streams, under pressure beneath the ice, cut valleys across the north-south ridge of our walk.
After the ice
After the Ice Age, the Wye could no longer follow the northerly route. Instead it cut down through 30 metres of bedrock to make a new valley: the Breinton gorge.
Find these ice creatures
When following the walk using the IceAgePonds app, at certain places, the option to take a selfie/photo with one of these creatures from the Ice Age in Herefordshire will occur. You will know you have found one of these places when the camera button appears at the top of the screen. So keep a lookout as you explore.
B1: Start point | back to map
View across Wye floodplain with notice board about the history of Breinton Common.
Across the river there is a steep cliff at Ruckhall forming part of the Breinton gorge. A similar cliff develops under Breinton Common village and so we must now ascend a hill into the village.
B2: Breinton village | back to map
Here there is a footpath signed down towards the River Wye. The footpath is not much used now since it is no longer a circular route because of cliff collapse. It is recommended that you visit the Wye at site B3 instead.
Continue along the road then down the hill at the end of the village to site B3.
Path to river
View south showing the path leading to site B3 on the River Wye. If you have a dog, make sure it is on a lead. After a short distance the path emerges at the riverside at Site B3.
Site B3 beside the river | back to map
The River Wye is fast-flowing against its steep bank here. Please be very careful to keep away from the cliff edge and do not attempt to proceed further along the riverside. Here we are close to the upstream end of the 5-km stretch of the River Wye known as the Breinton gorge where the river cut down at least 30 m within a period of up to a few thousand years at the end of the Ice Age.
The river cliff is 30 m high and in winter chimney pots can be seen on a house at the clifftop.
Next return to road
After savouring the site, return to the road and turn back uphill to Breinton village.
B6: Dry gully | back to map
The path emerges into a field with splendid views to the west. In the Ice Age, the glacier flowed towards you, just covering the nearby hills. An impressive dry gully crosses the field (Site B6). It was created by erosion by a glacial meltwater stream late in the last Ice Age. The stream was under pressure beneath the ice and cut this gully flowing upstream!
Visualisation of the gully creation
Visualisation of the glacier cut-open exposing the channel through which pressurised meltwater, is cutting into the bedrock. The water would be flowing uphill towards your viewpoint.
Mammoths indicative of scale.
The path of two meltwater streams which would have been under the ice. Remember at the time of the last Ice Age this entire area was covered by the ice sheet.
B7: Cross large dry valley | back to map
The path now crosses a large dry valley identified by the British Geological Survey as a channel eroded by glacial meltwater. Like the previous one, the water flowed uphill under pressure and the valley extends to the east on the other side of a ridge of bedrock. There is an abundance of mistletoe on the trees in the valley. Continue down the path into the valley.
B8: Valley floor | back to map
In the valley floor, bear right and across this stile to continue to follow the footpath through woodland. The Ordnance Survey map shows a track further right, but this does not now exist.
The track bears left and follows the left-hand edge of this field on the side of a north-south ridge.
B9: View from ridge | back to map
After ascending the side of the ridge, there is a good view to the north and east. The River Wye used to flow east across this landscape. We know this because there is a buried river channel filled with tens of metres of river gravels in this area. When this route became blocked during the Ice Age, the Wye re-established itself further south, creating the Breinton gorge.
Continue to follow the path round to the right when you reach the field corner.
Walk down to lane
Follow the hedge line down to a gate and out onto a lane.
Past Breinton Manor. Just ahead you will take a right turn.