THIS walk follows the route of the Wye Valley Walk for three miles north of Chepstow.

Follow the leaping salmon way markers. An optional route leads to The Lover’s Leap (16).

There are some steep drops along sections of this walk.

(Numbers in the text also appear on the map.)

South Wales Argus: Chepstow and Piercefield House walk map You can start this walk at Chepstow Castle, Chepstow Leisure Centre (closest map point 2), Lower Wyndcliff car park (10) or Upper Wyndcliff car park (11).

1. Follow the Wye Valley Walk to Chepstow Leisure Centre, where the route leaves the back of the car park and runs beside the school. Then walk through a gap in the wall.

2. The Piercefield Estate: This stone wall encloses the Piercefield estate on three sides, while the river Wye forms the eastern boundary. It was constructed after 1794 by one of the park’s later owners, Mark Wood. There were several entrances to the park, including the Temple Doors (17) and the Lion's Lodge (20), which in the 19th century became the main entrance. Turn right and continue down the path and steps.

South Wales Argus: Green: Through the woods at Piercefield Park, Chepstow, on the Wye Valley Walk. Picture: Ian Agland

Green: Through the woods at Piercefield Park, Chepstow, on the Wye Valley Walk. Picture: Ian Agland

3. The Alcove: This was the first of the viewpoints constructed around 1750. A small building with an arched opening stood where the stonework remains. Continue along the Wye Valley Walk through shady woods, following in the footsteps of countless visitors to Piercefield.

4. The Platform: Where has the ‘beautiful and inexpressible view’ gone? At one time you could see Chepstow Castle and Lancaut cliffs from this purpose built viewing platform.

Today these woods are internationally important for their nature conservation value and The Platform is a romantic remnant of a past landscape when the view was more highly valued. Continue on the Wye Valley Walk, keeping right at the fork, eventually passing the remains of an Iron Age Hillfort on the left, before reaching The Grotto.

5. The Grotto: It was the height of fashion to have a grotto. This one was lined with quartz crystals, iron cinders and copper. You may spot a few surviving pieces.

Laurel hedges and two lime trees framed the view. Although there is only a hint of it today, 200 years ago this was a spectacular view of grand distances, taking in much of Gloucestershire beyond the Severn.

Continue on the Wye Valley Walk past an upright stone, before walking along a ridge, with a steep drop to the Wye on your right.

6. The Double View: Today the view to the Wye is largely obscured by trees. When the path splits keep right. Continue until reaching a standing stone in the track.

7. The Druid’s Temple: These stones are all that remain of an amphitheatre called the Druid’s Temple. There are steep drops to the right along the next section. Pass the entrance to a small cave on the left. Soon after when the track forks take the right hand fork downhill.

8. The Giant’s Cave: The Giant’s Cave is one of the most dramatic features on the walk, with a viewing platform built into the rockface by the entrance to the cave.

The cave is not natural, but was hewn out of the rock. Opposite the cave are bow railings with a seat. Imagine arriving from the other direction, emerging from the cave to this view.

Engineered to surprise, it was all part of the Piercefield experience.

At one time a stone giant stood above the cave entrance. He held a huge boulder over his head, as if about to hurl it on the walkers below. The giant and his boulder suffered from frost damage and slowly crumbled away.

Walk through the cave and keep right along the Wye Valley Walk. Continue for some distance until crossing a small stream.

9. The Cold Bath: Can you spot the remains of the buildings in this sheltered hollow to the left? They include a plunge pool, where a few white ceramic tiles remain on the walls, and what is thought to have been the dressing room which is now a pile of rubble.

Keep on the Wye Valley Walk through oak and beech woods and up a number of steps until you arrive at...

10. Lower Wyndcliff: In the 18th century Wye tourists alighted from their boats in Martridge Meadow and walked up to the Wyndcliff.

In the 1820s the new turnpike road made it easier for visitors to arrive by carriage from Chepstow, rather than by boat from Ross. With the introduction of regular steam packet services from Bristol to Chepstow the number of visitors increased dramatically.

Before long a romantic thatched cottage (15) opened to provide refreshments for the travellers. It was called Moss Cottage.

Cross the main road with care and pass the metal barrier to a level area in front of the quarried cliff. Take the path to your left (not to the right which leads up the very steep 365 steps). Take the first turning right up to the Upper Wyndcliff car park.

11. Upper Wyndcliff car park: NOTE: You can also access the Eagle’s Nest by parking at the Upper Wyndcliff car park, reached via a lane off the A466, 1/2 mile north of St Arvans. Take the footpath on the left of the car park uphill. Continue uphill to the second bench. After 100m take the next path on the right which leads down some steps to the Eagle’s Nest (13).

12. The Wyndcliff: The Wyndcliff was the highest point on the Piercefield walk with the grandest view.

13. The Eagle’s Nest: The Eagle’s Nest was a double decker viewing platform perched on the edge of the cliff. This site was restored in 2010 and access to the lower deck removed as it had become unsafe.

South Wales Argus: From the Eagle’s Nest, Wyndcliff. Picture: Larry Wilkie

From the Eagles Nest, Wyndcliff. Picture: Larry Wilkie

Much of the stonework has been reused in the restoration of the upper deck. Retrace your route up the steps. Turn left and walk as far as the bench on the left. Take the track on the left which leads down the 365 steps. Take care as you descend.

14. The 365 Steps: These steps, one for each day of the year were constructed by the Duke of Beaufort in the 1820s. At the bottom stood the rustic Moss Cottage.

South Wales Argus: Down: The 365 Steps at Wyndcliff in the Wye Valley. Picture: David Barnes

The 365 Steps at Wyndcliff in the Wye Valley. Picture: David Barnes

15. Moss Cottage: Visitors crossed a rustic bridge and took tea at a table made from a huge slab of walnut tree which had once grown at Chepstow Castle. Continue down to the road and the car park (10), from where you can catch the bus back to Chepstow. To return on foot take the Wye Valley Walk on the far right of the car park and retrace your tracks to the Giant’s Cave (8). After the cave turn right uphill. Continue with the racecourse on the left to the Lover's Leap viewpoint on the right.

16. Lover’s Leap: The railings here guard a sheer drop of 180 feet. A short walk past The Lover’s Leap brings you to Temple Doors.

17. Temple Doors: Before the turnpike road was opened most visitors would have arrived from the Wyndcliff through these gates. There was an octagonal structure and viewpoint called the Temple here, demolished around 1800.

To return by bus from St Arvans (No 69) take the footpath to the left of Temple Doors through the kissing gate onto the racecourse fields (do not go through Temple Doors onto the main road.)

Follow this downhill skirting the trees and stone wall on your right. Go through a kissing gate on the right, and keep straight on, coming out onto the main road. Cross the road and walk to the left on the roadside footpath to the bus stop at the Piercefield Inn.

Alternatively, to return on foot from Temple Doors retrace your route back towards Chepstow, with the racecourse on your right. Back at the junction with the main path turn right (Giant's Cave is to your left). Continue along the main path past the stones of the Druid’s Temple (7) until reaching a marker post at a junction on the right. Take this path, go over a stile and turn right following the fence, emerging into the Capability Brown parkland setting of Piercefield Park.

18. Piercefield House and 19 Old stables: During the Second World War the racecourse was requisitioned. Lancaster bombers were assembled here and parked under the trees, before being flown to Bristol.

South Wales Argus:

Piercefield House has stood empty since the 1940s. Picture: Ian Angland 

Despite stretching from St Arvans to the Lion's Lodge the grass runway was too short; aircraft were stripped to the essentials with only enough fuel to get across the Severn to Filton. What remained of Piercefield House was used for training prior to the D Day landings. Look closely and you might just spot some bullet holes in this proud ruin.

Turn left and keep the racecourse to your right. Go through a kissing gate and stay on the track. Keep the wall to your left then fork left, passing through a stone arch to the road. Lion's Lodge (20) is a short walk downhill to your right. Turn left and take the first left back to the school / leisure centre, or continue back to Chepstow Castle (1).

This and many other walks in Monmouthshire can be found at