Heath to Heath
A circular walk between Overton and Cuddington Heaths from Malpas Cross
You should allow about 1 ½ hours for this walk which will lead you through some of the fields surrounding Malpas.
All access points are provided by kissing gates.
Remember to wear strong shoes.
The best time to take this walk is on a sunny afternoon when the light is good for taking photos.
Leaving the Cross, walk up Church Street to St. Oswald's Church and follow the path through the Churchyard.
Take a look around the church (1) and its gravestones.
Look out for inscriptions to past church wardens within the churchyard walls, or take a further detour behind the church to view Castle Hill mound (2)
Once you leave the churchyard, turn right along the tarmac drive. Keep to the left track past the disused Parish Hall. The way is marked by a wooden fingerpost.
The Parish Hall (3) was originally the stables for the Higher Rectory.
Malpas Parish is unusual in having had, until the 19th century, two rectors.
In the 12th century, Baron Robert Fitzhugh had no male heirs, so the barony of Malpas, and the right to appoint a rector, was divided between his two daughters.
Pass through a kissing gate, turn right and follow the top edge of the field.
(4) The Ox Heys meaning a hedged enclosure for Oxen, provided pasture for the Ox of the town's plough teams.
Enjoy the view from here of the Clwydian Hills including the Moel Fammau peak.
(5) Behind the hedge on your right is The Old or Higher Rectory.
This was the birthplace in 1783 of the Reverend Reginald Heber; see walk three for the history.
The area further along the Ox Heys (6) was the town's recreation ground and at one point it even had a bandstand.
Malpas celebrations for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee were held here.
The line of twelve sycamores trees were planted to represent the 12 apostles.
The largest tree, now just a stump due to vandalism, used to accommodate a small "cave" with its trunk.
Pass through 2 kissing gates and into the deep cutting of Overton Lane (7).
Known locally as Love Lane, it marked the boundaries between Malpas and Overton Parishes until 2019 when Overton became part of the Malpas Parish.
Turn left and follow the lane downhill.
Look out for the sandstone wall which was the pigsty of Top House Farm
If you want a diversion, continue down along the lane to the rear of Overton Hall, (8) where you may see earthworks of a deserted medieval settlement. Overton Hall is private property, please respect this.
Turn left at the fingerpost onto the "Bishop Bennet" Byway to follow an ancient drover road (9) which links Overton and Cuddington Heaths.
You will now pass through what remains of what was once a much larger heath land.
Overton Common is gradually changing over time.
In summer, the lower half of the common is covered by fern, but as the land is no longer used to graze livestock, young trees, bushes, wildflowers, and many species of plants flourish. However, this provides a safe haven for the Malpas wildlife
Journeying along the drover's road provides a sanctuary and a welcome contrast from the urban development, now a yearly feature of the town.
Take a short respite to listen for the song of robins and wrens, view the swallows and swifts swooping low above the wheat and barley, scooping insects as they go.
If you're lucky, you'll hear the screech of a Kestrel or the whistling call of a buzzard, gliding over the open country in search of their prey.
Food is plentiful along this track, not only for the many species of mammals and birds that live here, but the blackberries and hazelnuts can be enjoyed by human kind too.
Where the footpath crosses the drover road, turn left and follow the footpath back to Malpas.
Following the footpath you will cross the football pitches at the Malpas Sports club.