The most challenging of our four Keep Fit walks around the Garden is this one
At 2 miles long, it’s not too long. What makes this more challenging is the terrain – it can get a bit muddy and there ‘s one section up a hill. You’ll also have to walk up a bit of a long slope. This hike across Waun Las National Nature Reserve should take the average person around 50 minutes and 4600 steps.
In return, you’ll get some great views, get to meet our friendly livestock and maybe see some wonderful wildlife.
Beginning at the main western entrance of the Great Glasshouse, you need to follow the blue coloured posts and directional arrows. These will lead you down the hill, past the Tarw (Welsh Black Bull) sculpture and near the bottom of the hill, go straight on where the blue arrow tells you to.
Before you cross the stone bridge, have a look over the left side – you may see the bobbing head of a dipper. Go through the kissing gate and follow the grassy track to the abandoned 1930s farmhouse. The field on your left was once home to the family of sea explorers who made their fortune trading in spices from the Far East – they lived in a big house here called Middleton Hall.
Go through the gate and follow the track up the hill. On your right are some very old sweet chestnut trees whilst higher up, this old carriageway passes a very old oak on your left – notice how thick the tree trunk is.
You then pass an old stone arch which is known as Paxton’s Well. 200 years ago, this was used to control the water flow down to William Paxton’s Middleton Hall.
Follow the blue marker posts and arrows up the hill past a wonderfully old oak tree, a pumphouse brick building and eventually you’ll come across a magnificent wooden bench sited which will allow you to sit and enjoy outstanding views across this former Regency parkland. Notice the engraved drawings of plants on this – you’ll find these knapweed plants here in the summer.
At the top of the hill, through a couple of kissing gates, you’ll turn right and walk along the brow of the hill. Soon you will have outstanding views across the whole Garden and it’ll give you a great perspective of how the Great Glasshouse sits in the landscape like a giant raindrop, or is it a teardrop.
Next you’ll find yourself in a wet meadow where large dragonflies dart around in the summer. A dead tree trunk greets you here but where has it come from? See if you can work it out. After this, the fields dry and out and you get to stride downhill across open pastures nibbled by grazing Welsh Black cattle and Balwen sheep. Our cattle are very friendly so don’t worry – Welsh Blacks are a docile breed and our farmer Huw is always on the lookout to make sure that visitors are never put at risk.
Down the hill, veer right and you’ll along the bottom of a field which is of international importance for grassland fungi – over 20 species of colourful and increasingly rare waxcap fungi have been recorded on this field. Keep an eye out for news of autumnal guided walks here if you want to know more.
This path takes you back to the 1930s farmhouse, from where you can retrace your way back to the Great Glasshouse.
This walk would have burnt off around 210 calories so if you fancy, treat yourself to a yummy cupcake and cuppa in one of our cafés.