THE PYTHON ARMS
The views are breath taking. Kington is nestled in the valley below, lying in the shadow of Hergest ridge, still in Herefordshire but loomed over by the Welsh mountains. This is border country, known as the Welsh Marches. A hidden gem and I’m enjoying some of the best walking this country has to offer. I’ve just hiked 4 miles up from Kington and arrived at The Cattle Shed cafe at Penrhos Court.
Latte in hand I snuggle into a chair next to the large inglenook fireplace and admire the clever renovation of this former barn into today’s cosy rustic café. Out the window I can see the rest of Penrhos Court, over a pretty pond and courtyard to a stunning 15th century timber framed building with a large cruck beamed banqueting hall. Apparently, there was a murder back here in 1546 when a certain Walter Badam was killed with a sword that gave “one mortal wound or blow on his right eye brow”. Otherwise little more is known about the original history of this place and its now famed for its more recent history.
It’s hard to image now but in 1970 Penrhos court sat derelict and destined for demolition until business man Martin Griffith and partner Daphne Lambert bought it and transformed the long barn to the west of the courtyard into a hotel. Over the years it became a popular place to stay for famous guests speaking at the nearbyHay Festival. I’m told Queen, Robert Plant Mike Oldfield and other A listed musicians also found a safe haven here and have jammed together around this very fire. In 1976 Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, teamed up with Martin and they opened up the world’s first microbrewery and created the Penrhos Ale. It’s said that many episodes of Monty Python were written here and most probably the movie ‘Life of Brian’.
I’m shown around by the current owner Mark Bentham, who with his partner Laura, have now converted the hotel into 7 beautiful, high spec, self-catering cottages and one B&B, which they hope to open by Christmas 2021. Mark proudly shows off their new super expensive but environmentally friendly heating system, a massive ground source heat pump that fills a whole barn and I’m shown the location of a future swimming pool powered by solar panels, but for me the piece de resistance is the old barn. Now beautifully renovated but delightfully rustic and medieval, it’s scheduled to open next spring as a traditional old pub and to be called The Python Arms in homage to the late Terry Jones.
I shall most definitely be back to have a pint here and raise a toast to the Monty Python team. But for now, I finish my coffee and say goodbye to the resident dogs Leo and Mouse (two very friendly and very enormous rescued Turkish Kangals, who are free to wander the grounds). It’s time to head out and complete the final 3 miles back to Kington.
CIRCULAR WALK FROM KINGTON VIA PENRHOS COURT
Approximately 8 miles
Fairly flat, through fields, woods, country lanes. Some stiles.
Cattle Shed Café at Penrhos Court. Open 8-4pm weekdays. 10-4pm weekends. 6:30pm -9pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Python Arms scheduled to open in 2022. Dog friendly.
INTERESTS ALONG THE WAY:
Lyonshall Church. Section of Offa’s Dyke National Monument. The gardens at Rhodds Farm
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LINK TO ROUTE ON OS MAPS;
BRIEF ROUTE DESCRIPTION
This is only a brief description and I recommend using this brief to plot your route on OS map 201.
From the car park either head along the High Street or take the back-alley way which is officially on the Mortimer Way. Go straight ahead at the roundabout and walk along the B4355 for a short way until you see a sign post to the Mortimer Way at the end of the cottages. This will take you across fields and along the railway track by the River Arrow. Take the little lane through Bullocks Mill and turn left into Lyonshall Wood following the old tramway which eventually ends in fields. Walk through the apple orchard and down the lane through Castle Weir Farm. Turn right through a gate passing the ruins of a castle and Lyonshall Church. Carefully cross the A44 to access the lane to Lyonhales Nursing Home. You can either follow this lane or take a little deviation to walk along Offa’s Dyke National Monument. If you continue along the lane you can still see the monument on your right. Continue on the lane and then through fields. Cross Jack’s Ditch lane and find the foot path opposite that leads into Penrhos Court.
After refreshments take the path back to Jack’s Ditch Lane but this time turn right and walk along the lane until you get to the footpath that leads to Rhodds farm. Go over a few stiles to enter Rhodds wood. Walk down through the fields over stiles with beautiful views of Kington down below.