May Hill WalksGloucester
Longhope
Gloucestershire 
 

 

May Hill on the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border, between Gloucester and Ross-on-Wye, is an ideal place for a walk. Depending on your fitness, you can do a short one of approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) or a longer one of approximately 3 miles (5 km).

Both walks involve climbing to the summit of May Hill, but the longer one returns through woodland on the Huntley Estate. Whichever route you choose, you will be treated to spectacular views if the weather is fine.

May Hill has an elevation of nearly 1000 feet (305 metres), and with its distinctive cap of pine trees, is a well-known local landmark. It is visible from miles around and very well known for its stunning views from the summit. In good weather, it is possible to see twelve counties.

You can see the Black Mountains of Wales, the Brecon Beacons, most of Herefordshire, The Malverns, the Forest of Dean, and across the River Severn estuary to the Cotswold Hills.

The summit and surrounding area of May Hill consists of a wide expanse of open grassland, bracken and gorse with boggy areas and pools. The clump of pine trees was planted in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Although the hill was acquired by the National Trust in 1988, the summit is owned by the local parish for the recreation of the people, and is designated a ‘village green’. As befits a village green, Morris dancers perform at sunrise on May Day to celebrate the coming of spring and the banishment of winter.

May Hill Common covers 30 hectares of common land which was also acquired by the National Trust in 1988. This attractive area of bracken and developing trees (mainly birch, oak and crab apple) is still grazed by the commoners' ponies, pigs and occasionally sheep. The ponies are inquisitive but please do not feed them. Also, if you have a dog with you, please ensure it does not worry the livestock.

The area of acidic grassland on the summit of May Hill is the largest and finest example in Gloucestershire. In spring it is covered with bluebells. The abundant bracken is cut back every July, so that plants such as heath bedstraw, heath speedwell, bilberry and heather can thrive. This habitat is ideal for hearing and seeing breeding birds like tree and meadow pipits as well.

Both walks start from, and return, to May Hill Common (grid reference SO690221). Both walks follow the same route to the summit.

There is parking along the roadside but the National Trust has a Car Park at grid ref: SO691223 so why not give this worthwhile organisation your patronage and use it.

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Short Walks
1. From the parking area, enjoy the views across the rolling Herefordshire countryside. From Ross-on-Wye and Wales to your left, the Shropshire Hills in the far distance and on to the Malvern Hills on your right. Pass the gate onto the common and take the track to the left.
 
2. The Malvern Hills can be seen in the distance, marking the county boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire, with the Midlands beyond. Continue up the track.
 
3. The wall runs along the boundary between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Go through the kissing gate and continue on towards the clump of pine trees. The acetic grassland here is designated as a Site of Scientific Interest.
 
4. From here, the River Severn can be seen snaking to the south, flanked by the Cotswold Hills on the east and the Forest of Dean on the west. Continue along to the seat on the western side of the trees.
 
5. On a fine day the Welsh hills are clearly visible beyond the forest of Dean: the Brecon Beacons in the south, the distinctive Sugar Loaf Mountain and Skirrid, on to Hay Bluff, the northern most point of the Black Mountains. Leave the clump of trees and head north along the grassy track back to the left-hand side of the county boundary wall.
 
6. Go through the kissing gate. Carry on straight ahead down the steep slope and you will see the parking area ahead of you.
 
- Degree of Difficulty
This is an uphill walk on rough paths which can be muddy after wet weather. Classed as moderate and suitable for all-round walkers. Takes approximately 40 minutes.
 
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Longer Walk
Start: May Hill Common, grid ref: SO690221
1. From the National Trust parking area, go past the metal gate and head straight up the fairly steep middle path to the top of May Hill Common.
 
2. At the top, go through the kissing gate at the end of the wall (which marks the county boundary) and head across the grassland in the direction of the clump of pine trees. Here there are seats where you can enjoy the views before heading down through the woodland.
 
3. From the pine trees follow the main track to the southern end of the hill.
 
4. Pass through the gate and continue down the track, crossing straight over the crossroads by a water tank in the field to your right.
 
5. After about 55 yards (50 metres), turn left down the track and follow the public footpath way-markers.
 
6. When you reach a small road, turn left along the forestry track and over a stile next to a metal gate. Continue along the track into the woodlands of the Huntley Estate.
 
7. At the next bend the public footpath leaves the main track. Follow the arrows until it re-joins the forestry track. You'll pass through an impressive plantation of coast redwood trees.
 
8. Just after the timber stacking area, turn sharp left, still following the public footpath. Continue along this footpath, ignoring the next two footpaths leading off to the right. In areas where there are scattered ponds and flushes, uncommon plants, including lesser skullcap, bog pimpernel and bog mosses flourish. Palmate newts and rare water beetles live here too and you may even spot dragonflies flitting over the water.
 
9. Go over the stile onto the common, continuing along the footpath. Head straight over the track and follow the path through the bracken. Eventually the path will join the road just below the parking area.
 
- Degree of Difficulty
Classed as easy but with an initial steep climb. The ground through the woodland section can be muddy, especially after wet weather. There are two stiles. Takes approximately 1 hour. These walks are described on the National Trust website where a diagrammatic map can be downloaded.
 
For the short walk go to:
 
For the longer walk go to:
 
Facilities
The nearest public toilets and refreshments are at Newent, 3 miles (5 km) away.
 
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Contact& Further Information
National Trust
Telephone   +44 (0)1452 814213
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
- By Car:   May Hill is signposted off A40 Gloucester to Ross-on-Wye road, 1 mile (0.5km) west of Huntley, 3 miles (5km) from Junction 3 of M50. From Newent (B4215 ) and Huntley (A40) approach via Clifford’s Mesne village.
 
Head up the hill past the Yew Tree Inn and continue over the cattle grid onto the common, the National Trust parking area is 110yd (100m) on right. Car park, grid ref: SO691223. Roadside parking 0.5 miles (0.8km) past cattle grid  
 
Google Maps - May Hill