THE exact centre of Herefordshire is marked by a small stone monument and several yew trees.

They were planted there by a gentleman called William Jay and a few of his friends in April 1857. Because the spot is just two paces away from the busy A49, it’s best if we contemplate the county’s navel from the safety of one of the gentle field inclines which encircle it.

Not only will the easy stroll around them appeal to those who like an unchallenging walk, but there are a couple of surprises along the way.

The start at Holmer’s church of St Bartholomew is handy for those living in Hereford, and there’s an early visit to the mallards of Coldwells Road. Then it’s quietly up to the top field to gain the allround vistas without too much of a struggle. In front from here you can see High Vinnals in the north, the trees of Warren Wood on Bromyard Downs in the north east, and the Malverns in the east. South east is May Hill and behind you in the south, Garway Hill tower.

Over in the west, the glinting tower on Vagar Hill completes the rough county circumference around you.

There’s a tea room half-way around at Pipe and Lyde if you’re of that persuasion, and from there it’s across to the main surprise of the walk, which is the “hidden reservoir.

Here, there’s a chance that you might see a mute swan, a coot, or a tufted duck.

There are also Canada geese, distinguishable by their black neck, head and bill and white chinstrap.

It’s also the right kind of habitat for a good population of the great crested newt.

“Triturus Cristatus” we are told by Will Watson in The Amphibians and Reptiles of Herefordshire can grow up to a length of 17cms.

About half of all the eggs of the great crested newt, which are usually laid between March and May on the leaves of plants in the water, will perish as the tail starts to develop. As the numbers have been declining anyway throughout the 20th century, please respect the environs of the reservoir by keeping to the paths and duckboards.

The official right-of-way bypasses the bulk of the water along the field edge to the left – as per the directional arrow on the marker post.

The owners, however, are not averse to the sensible walker taking a pleasant detour over the boards. But please tread carefully and avoid trampling too close to the water’s edge.

Remember – it is illegal to intentionally capture, injure or kill a great crested newt, or to disturb him in his chosen place of shelter.

And there is a Constable in the area. The Haywain is a restaurant in the grounds of Lyde Arundel, whose approach drive we bear left across just before point (5) on the route.

At this precise point of the field path, we are exactly in line with one of the most visibly verifiable examples of “The Old Straight Track” in Herefordshire. The tall spire of All Saints’ Church appears to spring up between the pinnacles of Hereford Cathedral tower and spears through the ancient mound where there is an increase in height at the eastern end of Dinedor Hill Camp.

Returning to Holmer (the Mere in the Hollow) there is a good perspective of the church from the fields which overlook the racecourse. It is distinguished mainly by the fine detached tower, with its half-timbered upper storey which was added to the much earlier base in the 16th century. Similar picturesque towers can be found at Brimfield, Burrington, Hampton Bishop, Letton, Stretton Sugwas and Winforton.

The last part of the loop is rather noisily suburban but shouldn’t detract too much from the overall tone.

Holmer, Munstone and Lyde.

An easy three and three quarters of a mile family walk. Flat with one minor climb.

Easily attained views. Hidden Reservoir, Leyline.

Map: Explorer 202, Leominster & Bromyard, Hereford North.

Public Transport: Several buses.

The Route

1 Holmer Church. With your back to the church and large parking bay, cross the very busy A49 and go through the kissing gate by the road sign.

Pass through the paddock and second kissing gate to the mallard pond. TL at Coldwell Villa up lane to TL at Highfield House. Go ahead past barn through four gates. Follow left edge of field with views of Black Mountains left and Malverns right. Cross stile under tree and head up field to stile in hedge.

2 South View Stile. Pause for views behind across Hereford and southwards. Cross stile and follow left edge up through gap by old stile to top gateway and views north, including Titterstone Clee Hill and Bromyard Downs. Follow left edge ahead through gates either side of crossing farm track. (The trees at the bottom of the track down on the left, right next to the Leominster road, mark the centre of Herefordshire). Carry on ahead through a hedge avenue, three more gates, and along left field edge to stile on to lane opposite “Four Winds”.

3 Pipe and Lyde. TL past “The Haven” to Kenchester Water Gardens - with tea rooms - St Peter’s church and the main road (A49 again). Cross very carefully, slightly right, climb stile and follow left edge and hedge, with church’s brooch spire directly behind. Go through gap, up bank, and find reservoir.

4 The Reservoir. Go 30 paces beyond marker post on the left.

Now bear right, for permissive access, over the first duckboard crossing. TL and cross second duckboard beyond the boathouse, then bend R and L along gravel track. Where drive climbs up to left (to Lyde Arundel) TR by dingle and “Deep Water” notice. Follow right edge, hedge and brook over three-plank bridge and right edge of next field to Elton’s Marsh signed telegraph pole. Now TL along the line of telegraph poles across middle of large field with Aconbury Hill fort ahead on the skyline. Cross drive leading to Lyde Arundel a few paces left and into field left of hedge.

5 Leyline View. Forty paces into this field is the (ley) line through All Saints’ Church spire, Cathedral Tower turrets and Dinedor Hill fort. Bear left across field to stile in hedge, and half left across next large field, with Backbury Hill ahead on skyline, to cross stile. TR for next stile, then head towards Cathedral Tower over next field to stile in hedge across farm drive by water tank (which looks like a haywain from the racecourse). Bear left down final field towards back of houses, with St Bartholomew’s church tower, Holmer, over on the left. Cross Ayles Brook via stiled footbridge, up four steps past marker post and arrow between houses to Roman Road opposite Hugh Thomas Avenue.

6 TL for Starting Gate roundabout and left again for Holmer Church.