Take the A465 south out of Hereford and then the B4349.
Take the minor road on the right (north) signposted Ruckhall.
The Hillfort lies immediately to the east of the hamlet.
As we headed along the narrow road to Ruckhall we were met by a sign stating that the road ahead was closed ‘at the bridge’. Karen was not keen on driving any further and due to the fact that we had to make sure we were home in time to pick Dafydd up from school suggested we turn around and come back another day. I on the other hand was keen to see the Hillfort being so close. We drove on a little further but were then met by a steep hill and a further warning sign that the road ahead was closed. Karen refused to drive down the hill and reluctantly parked up in a passing place whilst I jogged down the road promising to be back asap in order not to be late for the school run. Karen did not appear to be too happy!
The sleet from earlier on had now turned to heavy rain and the narrow road now resembled a stream. I reached the small stone bridge to find it had been fenced off at each end. I suspect it has been closed for safety reasons due to the swollen river far below? I of course chose to ignore the warning signs and made my way around the obstacles and across the bridge. It is very pretty here.
I walked up into Ruckhall and made my way along the sign posted public footpath past the appropriately named ‘Hill Fort House’. The footpath was little more than a quagmire, deep mud and no other option but to squelch my way through it. I wasn’t about to turn back now. Several bedraggled sheep looked at me with a look of curiosity and pity I was waded on through the mud.
I then came to a set of wooded steps on the left which gave access to one of the fields inside the Hillfort. The field was surrounded by hedges and overlooked by several houses so I didn’t venture too far into the field. In the next field appeared to be a raised bank about 1.5m high but I have no idea if this is part of the Hillfort construction or a natural feature? The rain got heavier and my hands got colder. I went back down the steps and carried on a little further along the footpath.
The path became even muddier and I slipped and slid down my way down. It then dawned on me that this footpath ran along the Hillfort’s eastern defences – about half way up the steep slope. I would say it was about 3m up to the top of the rampart and another 3m down to the bottom field. The footpath carried on around the northern section of the Hillfort but my time was up.
I battled my way back up the muddy path, down the road, across the bridge and up the steep hill back to the patiently waiting Karen. By the time I got back in the car I was pretty well drenched although to be fair my coat and boots did a good job of keeping most of the moisture out.
‘Will we be back in time to pick Dafydd up?’ quizzed Karen.
‘Of course’ said I with a worried glance at my watch. I knew it would be tight.
‘You know I hate to be late’ warned Karen. ‘Yes’ I meekly replied.
(If we are late I can forget any idea of any nookie this year) I thought to myself (just a fair bit of nagging)
The site is worth a visit when in the area but don’t expect to see too much and pick a dry day!
On the plus side the footpath around the Hillfort gives easy access.
I am surprised I am the first person to post Fieldnotes on this site given this ease of access.
p.s. luckily we hit minimal traffic and I arrived at the school with less than 5 minutes to spare.
p.p.s still waiting for the nookie though…………………!!!
From "Herefordshire Register of Countryside Treasures" (1981 H&WCC):
"Eaton Camp, Eaton Bishop
Triangular promontory Iron-age hill fort occupying about 18 acres. Steep natural slope forms only defence on N and SE sides except for short lengths of scarp a S angle with slight mound at E point. Rampart on W side about 10 ft, high above interior.
Between Ruckhall Common and junction of Cagebrook with River Wye - along footpath from Camp Inn."