Saturday, 1 August 2020

A Walk to Priory Wood

Last week I got the map out and headed off down the Wye Valley Path, across the old golf course and along Hardwicke Brook:

It's a very well maintained path, as you can see, even when it crosses a field of wheat, but there are stiles, so it's not part of the Miles Without Stiles network around Hay.

The path comes out on a lane opposite Priory Farm, and here I left the route of the footpath to visit Clifford Church, further up the hill.  I sat in the churchyard on an old tree stump to eat part of my packed lunch and admire the view across the valley.
I was pleased to see that the church was open.  I haven't been inside for years, but when I lived in Priory Wood it was my local church - in fact, I went to a service there on the morning after Princess Diana died, which was quite a surreal experience.  It was a grey, overcast day, and everybody had heard the news so the service was very subdued.
The church has a rare carving, which is in quite a dark corner at the side of the altar, so this was the best picture I could get:

It's an 11th or 12th century life sized wooden effigy of a priest, who may have been one of the Cluniac monks from the Priory down the hill, where Priory Farm now stands.  I like to think of one of the monks toiling up the hill every day to the church to ring the bell and say Mass.  There are records of the effigy being paraded round the churchyard on special feast days, though nobody really knows who it represents.

I decided to go on to Priory Wood, along the route that I used to walk to church.  I'd forgotten how beautiful it is up there - it was a pretty stressful time when I was living up there, so I wasn't really interested in contemplating the views at the time.  The houses are pretty scattered until you come to an area around a sort of village green that has been planted with fruit trees, where I found that Priory Wood now has a shop!

And this is where I used to live, in the flat overlooking the stable yard:

On the way down the hill to Clifford, I saw dragons!

At the bottom of the hill, I found a bench where I ate the other half of my packed lunch, and then I set off along the road back to Hay.  Clifford Castle was looking good:


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