The Begwns to St. David's Church Circular
A Short Drive from Elmsleigh
Drive from Elmsleigh, back to Hay-on-Wye and take the right turn into Lion St., past The Old Black Lion pub. Branch right onto Heol-y-Dwr (Waterfront), and head down to the T-junction at The Globe. Turn left towards the centre of town and then right by the Three Tuns pub, over the Wye Bridge on the B4351.
Head towards Cleirwy (Clyro) and at the staggered junction with the main A438, turn right (towards Hereford), then immediately left signposted to Painscastle.
After 100m you approach the church, the road bends right towards the Baskerville Arms pub (more later), but instead turn left towards Painscastle.
After about half a mile, there is a left turning up the hill signposted Castell Paen (Painscastle). It's about 2 miles along this road to The Begwns car park; climb up past the caravan park, the road turns right shortly after and then winds uphill through farmland, over the first cattle grid, then the car park is on the right, just before the second cattle grid.
There are lots of paths, wide and narrow, all over The Begwns. Don't worry too much about taking any exact path. You can orientate yourself to 'The Roundabout' at the top of the hill, which is almost omnipresent except if hill fog descends.
From the car park, walk across the road, take the path on the right and keep the fence to your right until you reach a point where multiple farm tracks meet. Walk generally on tracks heading to the right of The Roundabout, enjoying beautiful views over to Painscastle.
However, there are a couple of false, short-lived paths to the right, so if the path disappears, double back. You can use ViewRanger to check you're on the right track.
You'll cross the mountain road from Painscastle to Llowes, keep following the track to the right of the Roundabout, which gets a little rougher, narrower and crosses several small streams, before reaching a dirt track.
Turn left up the track and quickly right, before a farm building, onto a well defined track down the hill. You'll come back towards this farm building on the other side on the way back.
In the spring there are beautiful yellow fields, full of buttercups all over the valley.
There is a gate as the path winds down to the road, you may need to un-knot/re-tie the rope. Continue through a short field of buttercups and onto the single track road (gateway, but no gate).
Turn left on the road and, as it descends, try to catch a first glimpse of St. David's Church over a gate on the right.
St. David's Church
Before a couple of holiday cottages, which are at the end of the road, is a gate into a cow field on the right, leading to the church - there is no path or road to the church - it snuggles into the side of a wooded hill.
The church is normally open, and well worth a look inside. Why not sign the visitor book too?
Time for a Sandwich
There is a lovely spot in front of the church to sit, enjoy the views and replenish some energy. You can also see the route back to The Roundabout - there's a farm track heading up the opposite hill to the left.
Retrace your steps back to the road and head down between the holiday cottages. The road ends at a gate onto the hill.
After a short climb up the gravel road, exit left and take the track that was visible from the church; it curves left back up the hill towards The Roundabout.
National Trust Marker
You pass a marker post from The National Trust with the rules for use of the common.
Then shortly after, the track branches right up the hill. As you climb, you'll see the farm building that you approached earlier from the other side.
Again, the exact path doesn't really matter, but head roughly for a dead lone tree and then head towards The Roundabout.
There has been a copse of trees surrounded by a circular wall since Victorian times, but it was renovated around the millennium.
It's another great spot for a picnic, and worth walking around it and through it.
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
This is the encryption on the trig point and it is not wrong!
The views are truly amazing. You can see almost the whole of the Black mountains and Brecon Beacons - Hay Bluff, Twmpa, Dragon's Back, Mynydd Troed, Fan-y-Big, Cribyn, Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du, Fan Gyhirych, Fan Brycheiniog - Twr y Fan Foel.
Skylarks and Hill Horses
The common rings out to the song of Skylarks, and there are often wild horses, very large ones to be spotted. Don't forget to keep dogs on a lead, because the Skylarks nest on the ground.
Head down keeping a little to the right, crossing the mountain road again, taking the well worn track.
You'll hopefully see the log bench on top of a little rise and then head down, a little towards the left, back to the car park.
The Baskerville Arms
On the drive home, why not call into the Baskerville Arms in Cleirwy (Clyro) for a pint of Butty Bach in a (hopefully) sunny beer garden?
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