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Garth Lawson Putley and Aylton walk
8:00am Friday 5th August 2011 in Walks
Putley and Aylton Four-mile easy walk, but with one minor climb into wood.
Orchards, wood, field paths, country lanes and two churches.
Map: Explorer 189, Hereford and Ross-on-Wye.
Buses: 478 and 479, limited.
IN THE 17th century John Beale, Fellow of the Royal Society and an authority on cider, wrote that long life in Herefordshire “is due to apples purifying the air”.
Today there are more than 3,000 orchards in the county, more than any other, and 2011 is Herefordshire Year in the Orchard.
Twice a year, as part of their Big Apple festivities, the seven parishes of the Marcle Ridge celebrate their heritage of orchards, apples and pears, cider and perry.
To work up a thirst this month we roam through a landscape of these life-extending orchards in Putley, to one of the other parishes, Aylton, where there’s a reminder of a life once cut tragically short.
The Putley area has been renowned for cider and perry since the 18th century when Herefordshire farmhouse cider was produced for consumption by the locals. “Fine" wines were also sold to the major cities for a price high enough to compensate for the county’s isolation from the main markets and the high cost of transport.
Cider was moved by pack horse or cart on notoriously bad roads from Ledbury to Gloucester and from there by sea to the principal markets.
Squire John Riley lived at Putley Court from 1872 until 1922. He was a notable pioneer of the production of fresh fruit to satisfy growing demand from increasing populations in the urban areas.
The newly constructed railway system provided him in the 1880s with effective cheap transport and from those Victorian times until the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, produce could be delivered to market from neighbouring Ashperton station.
In Putley today there are “traditional”
orchards containing full-size apple and pear trees, grazed with livestock. Bush orchards contain dwarf trees planted at a higher density and the grass beneath them is usually mowed by machine.
The village remains at the forefront of modern marketing. One producer runs special schemes for Cropsharers who, as the name implies, take home their share of the harvest in the autumn.
In order to get to Aylton from Putley, we have to do a bit more (quiet) road walking than usual.
Among the buildings of Aylhill Lodge on the way there’s a fine early black and white cider house.
Apparently the mill wheel inside is virtually intact.
On July 10, 1855, Aylton Court (5) was the scene of a tragedy. Believing a gun to be unloaded, 12-year-old farmer’s son Henry Foulger picked it up and pointed it at his sister.
To his horror it went off and 14-yearold Emma was killed on the spot. A verdict of accidental death was recorded, but, sadly, the family’s anguish was to be prolonged.
Soon after her interment in the graveyard at Aylton Church (6), in a sad flashback to the antics of those notorious bodysnatchers Burke and Hare 30 years before, Emma’s body disappeared from the grave.
Although her mortal remains have vanished forever, it is said that the ghost of Emma Foulger haunts the staircase where she died at her brother’s hands.
The route 1. Putley Green Hall/PO. (Road to Putley Common, Woolhope).
GR 652 377. With back to car park, TR past phone box along road, to Abbots Place. Bear R in front of Mill House down “Bad Boys Lane” and go straight ahead through three gates at Putley Mill into orchard and through avenue to Putley Church. Keep ahead (L of Ancient Yew in churchyard) then pond, R of Putley Court straight up to road at top. TL 25m, then TR across awkward stile on to wide farm track up orchard to gate top L leading into wood.
2. Gateway to Wood. (Pause for fine views behind to Malverns and Ledbury). Go through gate, bear L up obvious track, keep L beyond a marker post, stay lower L, then TL down five steps at next marker post. Follow narrower path, down more steps, to the edge of the wood and road. TR 10m, TL through gate in hedge, down three steps and follow aisle through orchard R of barns down towards telegraph pole. (Wave to May Hill). Reach surfaced track, bear R then L to road at Upper House.
3. Upper House. TR 30m to The Old Rectory, and (L of grid), go over stile into orchard.
Bear L through middle of orchard away from Rectory conifer hedge, along obvious path to pick up fence coming in from L and after 60m TL over stile into next orchard. TR along R edge and where hedge starts to bend L, go R across stile into next orchard. Go ahead and where next edge starts to bend L, go R over f/bridge and stile. Follow R edge of pasture 130m to marker post, TL across middle and TR in front of gate at other side.
Follow L edge/hedge through gate on to country lane L of (what is) Hallend Farm.
4. Road to Aylton Court. It’s easy now because you TL along road and follow it for one mile. Pass the thatched Aylhill Lodge, with old black and white cider house. Pass also Hazel Cottage, (built for the farmworkers of Aylton Court), to reach a triangle and road junction. TR for “Ledbury five miles”. Aylton Court is on the right.
5. Aylton Court. Scene of tragedy in 1855. Keep on along road beyond The Oast House, old shack and pool and bend L at Birchley. Veer R 200m to find a stile. (Possibly hidden, just before a drive to some farm buildings on the L, and before dwellings on R). Now TL off road across this stile along R edge of long crop field to cross stile on to road in R corner. TR ½ mile along pleasant lane to Aylton. Reach hop kiln at Court Farm and Aylton church just beyond.
6. Aylton Church. Partly Norman – visit the churchyard.
Return to road and TL, in your original direction, to triangle.
(The White House over to R).
Instead TL for Pool End a few paces, TL up three steps and across double stile. Go ahead through meadow, metal farm gate, ahead over double stile, two planks and slightly R ahead over further stile into orchard.
Follow L edge of R orchard, (OS map), over stile and through gate. TR through gate along enclosed path to emerge in Putley Green at 17th century Lucknow Cottage. TL past The Homestead and TR (as if for “Putley Church”) and car park.