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Fresh air and fantastic views from Hergest Ridge
2:26pm Thursday 5th July 2012 in Walks
Gladestry and Hergest Ridge: Five-mile moderate/energetic walk. Bridle paths, no stiles. One stiff climb. Country lane, field and open springy-turfed moorland with spectacular views. Map: OS 201, Knighton and Presteigne. Compass.
WHEN Richard Jobson visited his patients, constant pal Billy was usually tucked inside his shirt.
With his little face peeping out from between the doctor’s buttons, the faithful Yorkshire terrier offered an unlikely source of a second opinion.
Children who lived on the rural round would play “doctors” with a teddy bear stuffed inside their jackets.
From just before the war until 1970, the general practitioner from The Laurels in New Radnor formed quite a bond with his patients.
If necessary he sat up with them at night or drove them into Hereford hospital. From his store in the window by the porch he set out with white peppermint for stomach upsets, cough mixture in bottles and yellow tonic for spring lassitude. He also carried coloured tablets for those who just needed a bit of reassurance.
For his expertise in the early days some paid him with a chicken, butter, eggs or swedes.
On Friday evenings the doctor travelled to the Post Office in Gladestry where he (and Billy) examined patients in the front room. Friends like the racing driver Innes Ireland and Jeremy Sandford, writer of Cathy Come Home, came along to meet the locals and enjoy a few whiskies with the postmaster.
Before he owned a Land Rover and roads reached some of the more isolated hill-farms, the doctor sometimes walked miles to see his patients. This was pleasant enough in the spring and summer, but it was a different proposition in the winter.
In the severe conditions of 1947, the snow lasted from the third week in January until the middle of March.
One epic journey saw him set off in his snowshoes across the flanks of The Smatcher. He trudged seven miles along tunnels cut with shovels through 20 and 30ft walls of snow past Gladestry. When he reached neighbouring Colva he discovered that the boy with bronchitis had got better just after he’d been called out.
One elderly lady wrote a note every week: “Come on Tuesday, not before 4pm. Must go to Kington to get a sheep shearer to my mop.”
“My tonic bottle is empty, need more for weeding.” Or: “No more pills for piles, found the last one under the geranium pot.” Somebody else wrote frequently for “another bottle with the arsenic in it for my husband”.
Though chains on his Land Rover’s wheels helped in later days, occasionally the doctor had to climb on to a horse. If he was met by a farmer on horseback, Jobson would leave the car and canter to the farm on an animal keen to get back home again.
But the journey back to the abandoned car was never so much fun for a novice rider when his mount kept turning for the stable in the middle of the night.
Dr Jobson was a fine artist, clarinettist and amateur cinematographer.
He also built a model steam engine which ran around a track in his garden.
The railway was one of his passions and his intimate photographs leave us with an enduring portrait of the New Radnor Branch. Our route climbs up from Gladestry on to Hergest Ridge.
There are spectacular views across the much-loved doctor’s patch from bridle paths and the Offa’s Dyke Path. Just the prescription for a clear day.
Ã Walks in and around the Gladestry area can be booked at kingtonwalks.org as part of the highly recommended inaugural Kington Walking Festival from September 21- 24.
THE ROUTE 1. Gladestry. The Royal Oak Inn car park. With permission from the landlord. (Elsewhere in village, please, if not patronising).
With your back to pub, TL across Gladestry Brook. T immediately L along Offa’s Dyke Trail, surfaced lane, for Newchurch. Walk half a mile to point where lane starts to turn right beyond imposing Stone House (on R, once owned by the inventor James Watt).
2. Offa’s Dyke Path sign. Just beyond, TL through unmarked gate under t/pole into pasture.
Follow rutted farm track ahead through gate into next pasture.
In L corner TL through gate, plantation and gate. TR across f/bridge at Mill Cottage. Go ahead across paved forecourt and bear L up grassy bank to country lane. TR 150m to farm.
3. Llan-y-felin Farm. TL between buildings on signed bridle path. Bear R up obvious track through gate. Where the track veers L, dink R through gate beneath trees. Using the grass bank initially, keep ahead along R edge and pass through walkers’ gate under trees. Stay ahead on R edge, through next gate and follow avenue with wonderful views opening up south and eastwards. Bend L through another gate, (wave to May Hill), and pass through next two ahead to surfaced drive.
4. Upper Rabber. TL and go up through gate to L of cottage, then steeply up through next gate. TR along R edge. At corner, mark tall tree position at one o’clock ahead of you, and take lowest track down Rabber Dingle (crossing the Radnor/Hereford border) and go back up beyond the tree.
(You’re on springy turf with a great view of the Black Mountains). Where fence on R ends, go straight ahead along lower flank of Hergest Ridge past marker post, then one fifth of a mile to direction post (the second taller one of two together).
5. Tall direction post. TL. Climb steeply up ahead past two marker posts to the summit of Hergest Ridge. (If you maintain a line north-north-west you will stay left of two piles of stones and reach the direction post on the top at a point about 180m left or west of the trig. point).
6. Hergest Ridge post. TL, left of pile of stones and now veer left away from stones, southsouth- west. Pass marker post and go up to the next, Offa’s Dyke post on a little plateau.
Pass to L of pool and descend, south-west past four more Offa’s Dyke posts to a dip below Yew Tree Bank ahead of you. At a point where the track is rutted, keep to the left down the stony path. Pass through two wooden gates (and shut them) beyond Elm Villa to the road.
7. TR along road to the Royal Oak. (Old Post Office is other side).