This month’s walk by GARTH LAWSON visits Lingen and Harley’s Mountain, scene of very different historic and modern day battles.

RATHER like Brilliana Harley before them, some people living in the extreme north-west of Herefordshire are adopting a “siege mentality”.

The Stonewall Hill and Reeves Hill Conservation Group has been set up to protect the tranquillity of an area “under threat from wind power station developers”.

They welcome the establishment of renewable energy in suitable locations but point out that Reeves Hill is a highly visible site perched 400 metres up on the border between England and Wales.

It is next to a road well used by locals, sightseers and walkers. Its forecast output of 25 per cent of 10MW capacity does not justify the damage to the surrounding countryside, they say.

But according to the Bolsterstonewebsite, Reeves Hill is a great location for four wind turbines because there is good wind speed, an accessible site, limited cumulative visual impact, a sparsely populated location and it is not in a designated protected area. There are no aviation issues and the sub-station would be housed in an existing wooded area.

The debate has been well ventilated on the correspondence page of the Hereford Times. Ben Toth asserts that a “windy world heritage site is exactly the right place. Turbines are graceful, benign kinetic sculptures, and should become an essential part of the future landscape”. Indeed he would like to see some in the hills around his home at Canon Frome.

Susan Seaman of Bush Bank counters that “these extremely expensive, completely useless structures are a blot on the landscape incapable of producing enough power to keep their own mechanisms from freezing up”. She adds: “Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see that they are indefensible.”

In Herefordshire, there was no more vigorous defender of a cause than Lady Harley of Brampton Bryan. She had been left to hold Brampton castle for Parliament in the Civil War while her husband Robert, a dedicated puritan, was serving as a Member of Parliament in London.

The castle’s garrison was composed of 100 armed men, two small cannon mounted on the walls and two months’ supply of powder. The cavaliers brought up a force of 600, but the formidable array failed to shake the lady’s resolution. She held out for seven weeks and the siege was lifted.

Unlike the coded letters which Brilliana was forced to send, there’s no ambiguity in the message of defiance on a barn which we pass en route. “No Windfarm Here” is emblazoned across it.

Brilliana’s last letter prayed that the Lord would deliver her from a great cold. But as her adversaries dispersed, so she succumbed and died a few days later. Brampton Castle surrendered a year later to Sir Michael Woodhouse.

As I trudged up towards the trig point on Harley’s Mountain which overlooks the family domain, I soon realised that my loop from Lingen via Mynde Farm was the wrong way round.

The less strenuous clockwise route through a carpet of bluebells paves the way to breeze through wide views for the final three miles. I tried to imagine how the turbines with their 100 metre blade tips would look in this exhilarating landscape.

Would they be monstrosities or graceful sculptures? In their own battle against the odds, will the stonewallers be able to resist the wind of change?

LINGEN AND HARLEY’S MOUNTAIN Quiet wooded valley and lanes. Exhilarating return from Harley’s mountain to Lingen.

A brilliant five-mile moderate ramble.

Never strenuous.

Map: OS Explorer 201, Knighton and Presteigne.

ROUTE 1. Lingen. 4 miles west of Wigmore (A4110). GR 364 672. Park tidily just to the west of Lingen Church by notice boards. Walk east into churchyard, TR at main porch along drive, out through lych-gate, TR along road 50m, cross and take stile on L. Follow R edge/hedge of pasture, cross very awkward stile L of barns, and walk straight up next, longer pasture through gate. Follow lane to red post box at left bend in road. Go another 40m to stile by t/pole.

2. Stile leaving road to Clay Vallet Wood. TR over stile, 40m along gloomy nettled path, over stile, go ahead, with gully R, 200m, over next stile, 60m, stile and bear L up bank into pasture.

Carry on in the same direction now. To do so, go along lower part of bank ahead and take upper L gate of two at 1st field division. Go through gate ahead, along “The Gullet”, ahead over stile in trees, pass three marker posts and climb up to left to cross a stile into sunken lane. TL, possibly passing a fallen tree, upwards to bend L and R leaving grid behind R out past a ruin to road.

3. Road from Lingen milestone towards Stonewall Hill. TR (1 mile altogether).

At Upper House, TL to stay on road in same general direction with intermittent flashes of Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. Pass the barns of The Ashes (with Stonewall and Reeves Hills on skyline 1½ miles ahead) down past the Primitive Methodist Chapel to the road junction.

TR for 135m down towards Leintwardine.

4. Ascent to Harley’s Mountain. 1 mile. TR through gate along fine footpath through 2 gates to join fence on L. Go through a 3rd gate and bear R (with fence still on L) up avenue and cross stile by gate just below summit. Now go straight ahead across wonderful pasture through wooden gate.

5. Harley’s Mountain. Keep ahead at this path junction on same line along R edge/fence with trig. point up over to your L. Keep on R edge through 2 more gates, dropping into large crop field. Bear R down R tree-lined edge and where trees end, just go straight ahead across strip of crops to hedge opposite. Below a tank. TR, now with that hedge on your L, down the obvious wide, rutted farm track past farm buildings (L). Where the gravel track starts to turn L below those buildings, go straight ahead down over grassy ride through gap in hedge into crop field. Go straight down path through crop, aiming just L of new buildings one-third of mile ahead. Go through makeshift gate by stile under tree and down and up pasture to Mynde Farm.

6. Mynde Farm. Up at farm, TL through rusty gate (in front of building furthest R), bear R through yard, gap by chicken hut and TR along R edge fence through 2 gates next to one another. You should be able to see Lingen church below. Bear R down fine pasture towards barns 3 fields below you. Take stile, down L edge, stile in bottom L, TR 20m, TL through gap to cross stile in L corner. Go ahead to R of corrugated shed, through gate next to it, 100m along R edge and across stile on to lane. TL ahead, across main road, back to church.