“JUST below grew an apple tree whose bright red boughs and shoots stood up in beautiful contrast against the light blue mountain and grey town and the blue valley.

“And the grey tower of Clyro Church peeped through the bright red branches. From the stile on the top of the hill the sun set in a crimson ball behind the hills or rather into a dense ball of dark blue vapour. In the afterglow scarlet feathers floated in the sky, and the gorse deepened into a richer red gold in the sunset light.”

The milieu for some of Francis Kilvert’s more lyrical diary passages lies just across Herefordshire’s border with Radnorshire. Living at Ty Dulas, now Ashbrook House, the curate of Clyro was only a few paces away from the church of St Michael and All Angels. The small green between his lodgings, old cottages, and the west lychgate had once been the site of the village stocks and whipping post.

Sally Whitney told Kilvert that she well remembered the old stocks because they stood by the front door.

She had often seen people in the shackles, and she had also witnessed the chimney sweep being whipped by the parish constable for using foul language at The Swan.

When people were put in the stocks, she said, it was usually for rioting and fighting, or using foul language at the pub. But she couldn’t quite recall if the sweep had been stripped naked for his punishment.

The diarist himself knew only too well about colourful goings on at the hostelry because his sitting room and bedroom were almost directly opposite.

When the boys from Bronydd got into the Clyro Feast Ball “the house was in uproar, the company were fighting all night and in the morning all the respectable people had black eyes.

Patrons of the inn were also frequently to be seen at 11 o’clock in the morning stripped and fighting up and down the road, often having drunk and vomited and wallowed in The Swan all night.”

The Swan is now The Baskerville Arms and our own pastoral sets off in the direction of Hay-on-Wye from a normally less unruly setting.

The first part of the figure of eight route is an easy perambulation of lane and meadow.

A meeting with Hamar of Boatside once awakened the more prosaic side in Kilvert.

After a particularly heavy bout of the measles Hamar said “I suppose I have had the measles” – as if he didn’t actually know that he had.

“It is the curious aggravating Herefordshire use of the word ‘suppose’.”

In the churchyard we pass Kilvert’s perch for reflection on the old tomb of Thomas Bridgwater. “The widows of the church,” according to the Hereford Times account of the 1871 Harvest Festival, “were decorated with Latin and St Andrew’s crosses and other beautiful devices in moss with dazzling flowers.”

Felicitously, the present walks correspondent completely redressed the balance just 138 years later, with talk of Masefield’s Window on the Bye Street.

If continuing with the moderate part of the walk, above Clyro, the climb to the area which brought out the Wordsworth in Kilvert is by the ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ which made him breathless.

In the steep field above the top rung the curate once happened upon Ben Lloyd carrying a horse’s collar and a tub of butter (as you do!).

Looking astonished and foolish, the drunken old man fell sprawling on his back.

Admonished by the curate, Ben cursed and shouted that if a man did not get drunk he wasn’t a man at all and of no good to himself or the public houses.

The argument was so exquisite, thought Kilvert, that he left it to answer itself.

Listen out for the curlew on the stroll back down the lane.