Wind back a millennia and this northernmost corner of Herefordshire, where the county cosies up to Shropshire and Wales, was the realm of border battles, brawny castles and ruthless Marcher lords
Download the Mortimer Trail Guide
Today, the northernmost patch of Herefordshire is a picture of tranquility. Yet for centuries it was the base for the powerful Mortimer family. With lofty ambitions, it was rare to find a Mortimer who didn't encounter trouble or, more often that not, cause it.
From the Norman Conquest to the Tudor Landscape the family and their castles featured centrally in battles against the Welsh, in conquests in Ireland, in king-making and breaking as well as in the Wars of the Roses.
The Mortimer Trail explores this dramatic legacy over 30 miles, following a succession of hills, ridges and valleys between Kington and Ludlow.
- Wandering through wonderful woods, ancient & modern
- Roaming around dramatic hill-forts & imposing castle ruins
- Pausing at meandering rivers teeming with wildlife
- Soaking up the superb vistas
- Passing through pretty villages & farmsteads
- Unparalleled peace & quiet
The Mortimer Trail is a linear route, taking 1 to 3 days, and can be walked in either direction. A new Guidebook for the Trail was published in 2023 and is available from local bookshops, Tourist Information Centres and other venues. Or below, you can also view our shorter online guide for details of how to plan your trip, including places to stay.
Experienced long-distance walkers and runners can also take the Walking Hub's Mortimer Challenge, a self-led challenge to complete the trail in a day.
Favourite spots on the Mortimer Trail
The Trail climbs through this vast ancient hunting forest in stages, sometimes up steep woodland paths, sometimes on gentle forest tracks and sometimes across high terrain ablaze with bluebells in May and June. Rest your legs at the summit of High Vinnalls for views in all directions, taking in the Malverns, the Black Mountains, Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and, on a fine day, the mountains of Snowdonia.
Croft Ambrey hillfort
The Trail enters Croft Woods on an easy forest track but soon makes the steep ascent to the ramparts of Croft Ambrey hill fort. Standing at almost 1000ft above sea level, the large multi-enclosure site dates from around 390BC and massive, ancient horse-chestnut trees are dotted around the site. Breathe in the fine views and, time permitting, consider a detour to National Trust's Croft Castle.
Castle & Church at Richard's Castle
Take a short detour to reach the remote and atmospheric castle ruins and church in Richard's Castle. Perched high above the village, it was built by a Norman lord 12 years before the Norman Conquest and later fell into the hands of a separate, although probably distantly related, branch of the Mortimer family. Climb to the top of the rare octagonal keep and take in the muted colours and vistas from the ancient church, with its detached belltower.
Lying just over the border in Shropshire, Ludlow Castle was another principal lair of the Mortimer family who featured centrally in battles against the Welsh, in conquests in Ireland, in king-making and breaking and in the Wars of the Roses. The large castle and 13th century walls continue to be a historic landmark in this foodie market town. Pause on Dinham Bridge to look over the River Teme.
Well worth a stop, Aymestrey sits almost halfway between Ludlow and Kington. The River Lugg - meaning 'bright stream' - runs through the village and alongside the celebrated Riverside Inn with its tempting restaurant and rooms. The local church features a chancel from the 12th century and half a mile south is the site of the Battle of Mortimer's Cross.
Lying in the Arrow Valley, in the shadow of the imposing Hergest Ridge, Kington is a tiny town with a big character. Host to annual walking festivals, the Mortimer Trail meets Offa's Dyke Path here, making it a hiker's dream. Mooch around the art galleries, shops and cafes, or visit the stunning Hergest Croft Gardens which holds the National Collection of Maples, making it especially attractive in autumn.
The many muscular castles studding this tranquil landscape tell a stirring tale of past conflicts, with ambition, rivalry and betrayal at their heart. One family above all others built a legacy that still resonates today across the region that bears its name: Mortimer. But who were they – and why does their story endure?
Wheely Wonderful offers 2 and 4 day walking holidays along the Mortimer Trail. Their breaks combine walking with fantastic food, with award-winning restaurants at each night's stop. Individually arranged, each trip includes great accommodation, luggage transfers, detailed route guides & maps, plus safe parking.