Following our Boxing Day Walk suggestion, here’s an idea for a lovely spring walk if you are visiting Herefordshire. The Cat’s Back is the first ridge of the Black Mountains you meet as you come from the East – it is the thumb in a spread hand of ridges that includes Offa’s Dyke.
From Longtown head for Llanveynoe and start from the picnic site and car park map ref. 288328 on OS Explorer Map OL13 – thankfully these are situated part way up the slope and gives one a head start. Climb up the steep slope and enjoy a fairly level but thrillingly precipitous (which kept our children interested) clamber from there on with views to the West down into the Olchon Valley (location of Owen Sheers’ novel, Resistance) and up to the next ridge, Hatterrall Hill, The Black and Red Darren with Offa’s Dyke running along the top. To the East the Herefordshire plain stretches away. There are lovely great stone slabs to picnic and sit on along the way and, on sunny days, watch the heat haze rise over the descending slopes.
You can walk on across to the trig point on The Black Hill ( The Black Hill of Bruce Chatwin’s “On The Black Hill) and even on to Hay Bluff and circle around to next ridge or cut down the side of the cat and return to the car park using a sheep track that closely follows the spring line, replenishing drinks on the way as we did yesterday.
Birds that you are likely to spot – Meadow pippits, Raven’s, Crows, Buzzards and Skylarks. Should you want further refreshment, Craswall offers the Bulls Head, a traditional black and white pub with flagstone floors and a decent menu. Open Thursday-Sunday.