Checkley, Mordiford and Backbury Hill

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Start: Checkley Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km) Climbing: 180 metres
Grid Ref: SO 59382 38433 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Mordiford
Start: Checkley Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km)
Climbing: 180 metres Grid Ref: SO 59382 38433
Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: Checkley, where the walk begins, is a hamlet scattered over a spacious common. The route follows the tiny Pentaloe Brook through fine mature woodland down to the pretty village of Mordiford and returns to Checkley by way of Backbury Hill, on which the legendary Dragon is said to have had its lair.

Backbury HillBackbury Hill

Today bracken clad Backbury Hill and the wooded valley of Pentaloe Brook are quiet, half-hidden corners of Herefordshire. According to legend however, Backbury Hill was for many years the home of a fierce Dragon that came to drink at the brook before stalking on down to terrorise and ravage the inhabitants of Mordiford.

Legend has it that all attempts to slay the evil beast ended in failure until a condemned criminal named Garson agreed to try, in exchange for his freedom. Armed with a bow and arrows, Garson hid in a barrel in the brook and when the unsuspecting beast bent its head to drink, fired the arrows through the bung of the barrel into its heart. As it lay dying, however, the Dragon directed its last gasps in the direction of the barrel, and the luckless Garson was asphyxiated by the fumes inside his hiding place.

Although the walk cannot provide such extraordinary wildlife as the legendary Dragon, nevertheless there is plenty of interest to see along the route. Colourful and raucous Jays are plentiful in Bear's Wood where Alder trees line the Pentaloe Brook. In the attractive village of Mordiford, the 13th century church and the ancient bridge are worth seeing. The well proportioned bridge was built in the 14th century to carry the Hereford to Gloucester road over the River Lugg. At the time it was traditional for the lord of the manor to present a pair of gilt spurs to the sovereign each time he crossed over it.

Leaving the village behind, the walk proceeds through Grove wood and fields before climbing the Backbury Hill where a trig pillar sits atop. From the hilltop and slopes there are delightful views southwards over Pentaloe Valley.

Acknowledgments: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Pictures of England.

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