Llanthony Priory Campsite – a review

Been meaning to do this for a while but since I was there a few weeks ago, I thought I would finally give a review of the Llanthony Priory campsite. Its been listed as a “Cool Camping” destination, had good reviews on the Guardian and ukcampsite websites and it also happens to be a camping destination I have been going to for nearly 30 years. I have always loved this site for a whole myriad of reasons, its location and relative remoteness, its simplicity and if truth be known it proximity to one of the best little pubs I have ever found. Its next to the ruins of Llanthony Priory built by Augustian Monks and the setting is truly splendid. Its one of those places that you have to try at least once….

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As I said above, the campsite has been here for all the time I have been walking and camping and even after all this time still manages to retain its special feeling. I first came across it one dark October 1982 whilst doing a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme trip taking in the delights of a freezing cold walk across Hatteral Ridge. I remember the ruins of the Priory looming up out of the drizzle and mist as we descended off the ridge and into the Honddu Valley. Even back then I recall the tingle of excitement at finding this gem of a place in the middle of what I thought was “nowhere” (as a 14year old “nowhere” was not an ideal destination but now a little older “nowhere” is somewhere to aim for). I also remember that the campsite was a field with no facilities and by and large it still is today (although there is a standpipe and toilets a few hundred yards away, erm.. and the pub :D)

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The location is very special being a gorgeous 6mile drive from the A465 at Llanvihangel Crucorney (itself having one of Wales Oldest pubs The Skirrid Inn as a point of interest). The Honddu Valley twists and turns under the watchful gaze of the twin ridges that rise up either side of the road. Both ridges run for about 10miles in a northerly direction culminating at the aptly named Gospel Pass and further stunning scenery as the Powysian and Herefordshire plains undulate for miles into the distance. For the majority of the 10miles, both ridges rise above 2000ft giving ample walking and viewing opportunities once you decide to leave the confines of your tent (or the pub).

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The camping field is about 100yards up a trackway from the road and before you get to the priory proper. It is a couple of acres in size and is bordered by hedges/treeline to the south and west. On a clear night, the moon casts a surreal and ethereal light that glances off the ridges and trees and outline of the priory. Lucky are you when the full moon is high in the sky. The damage for camping in the field is a paltry £4 although I normally spend more than that as the delights of the Priory pub call to me everytime I visit. The pub is set partially underground which gives delightfully cool walls to rest against in the summer heat and has one of the smallest serving bars I have ever seen. Traditional Welsh country fayre can be had here as well although the cook likes to nip off around 9pm (she seems to have been there cooking food for countless wayfarers for innumerable years, bless her). On a summers day, you can stroll about the ruins or sit on a sward of verdant green grass whilst sampling the ales, enjoying the birdsong or looking up at the ridgelines planning the walk ahead of you (or behind you).

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Dont come here expecting an electric hookup or showers or pretty toilet blocks. This site is all about ambience and a simple staging area to reflect in the beauty of the hills and to make a great base for exploring. I havent found anywhere to match this site. Its not quite a commercial site but neither is it wildcamping. It feels like a superior blend of both. I cant explain further than to say that you need to experience it for yourself to make your own mind up. It can get a little busy-ish in the height of summer but I’ve never seen it full to the gunwales. Its also a place I know I can come to in the depth of winter and quite often have.

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This gem of a campsite has been part of my outdoor experiences since I was a teenager and I havent grown weary of it yet. It also feels like a special toy that a small child would show proudly to other children before pulling it back protectively into wrapped arms. Thats how I feel about this place. Its my special place and you are welcome to come and see it, just dont try to take it away from me.

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Did I mention it also has a pub….?

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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4 Responses to Llanthony Priory Campsite – a review

  1. dave says:

    great spot that, love the place

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Thanks Dave and yes it is, a great spot. There are wilder places, there are taller places, there are places with more facilities but taken as the sum of its parts…..its superb

  2. Wee Jimmie says:

    I passed through there a few weeks ago too, although I camped up high rather than at the campsite. That spot in the valley has some of the most beautiful low-level walking I’ve seen.

    I didn’t have such good weather as you though!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Ahhhh well I have had all kinds of weather here…hail, sun, snow, wind, rain, fog. You go to a place often enough and you get to see everything!

      It is beautiful and there are so many facets to the area in general. I much prefer walking here than the central Beacons.

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