Black Mountains Ridge walk

Spectacular mountain ridge walk - Hay Bluff, Lord Hereford's Knob, & Waun Fach. Tough, with shorter easier options. Car only.

Ascending from Myndd Du car park in the Grwyne Fawr valley
Ascending from Myndd Du car park in the Grwyne Fawr valley

27-May-22 • streety06 on Flickr

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Grwyne Fawr reservoir
Grwyne Fawr reservoir

27-May-22 • streety06 on Flickr

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Vale of Ewyas
Vale of Ewyas

27-May-22 • streety06 on Flickr

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Descending into the Vale of Ewyas
Descending into the Vale of Ewyas

27-May-22 • streety06 on Flickr

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Ascending from the Vale of Ewyas to the "Offer's Dyke" path
Ascending from the Vale of Ewyas to the "Offer's Dyke" path
England from the "Offer's Dyke" path
England from the "Offer's Dyke" path

27-May-22 • streety06 on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk339 52108089853


Main Walk: 15.5 miles (24.9 km) with 3,550 feet (1,075 m) of elevation

Vale of Ewyas circular (east) : ~15km with ~540m ascent

Grwyne Fawr circular (west) : ~13km with ~490m ascent

Out-and back walks from Gospel Pass at 550m elevation

  • east along the "Offer's Dyke" ridge : 4 km to Hay Buff (120m ascent), 8 km to the highest point (150m ascent) - the entire ridge is ~14km one way .
  • west along the Waun Fach ridge : 3km to Lord Hereford's Knob (140m ascent), 14.4km to Waun Fach (~300m ascent)

10 / 10 for the main walk

8 / 10 for the 2 shorther circular day walks

3 / 10 for the Gospel Pass East short walk, or 5 / 10 for the Gospel Pass west short walk (boggy terrain).

Apart from the maintained "Offer's Dyke" path, the ridge top paths are eroded in places, and wet/boggy even in dry weather. The lower paths are better.

Walk Notes

This is a spectacular ridge walk along the main Black Mountains peaks - the "Offer's Dyke" path / Hatterrall ridge ( 637m ), Hay Bluff ( 677m ), (Gospel Pass), Lord Hereford's Knob ( 690m ), & Waun Fach ( 811m ).

The catch is that its an 'E' shaped mountain, i.e. 2 adjoining 'U' shaped valleys, so you have 2 steep climbs and descents to do, not just one! As this makes for a long strenuous day, too long for many, some shorter walks are suggested.

The walk starts at a remote National Park car park, Myndd Du (Black Mountain in Welsh) at 1,300 feet, and climbs over a ridge (+250m, the middle of the 'E') to the neighbouring Ewyas valley at Capel-y-ffin (remote hamlet) at 1,000 feet.

Here, the steep climb up to the "Offer's Dyke" path ridge starts (+320 m). Once up on the ridge, the remainder of the walk follows it in a long semi circle. The ridge itself is open moorland.

The "Offer's Dyke" section of the ridge forms the England Wales border. The path is well maintained, with steps across the wetter bits. After a a gentle walk north to Hay Buff, 677m (+80m via the highest point), the ridge turns west, and descends to Gospel Pass (549m), the highest road in Wales, and possible starting point.

The ridge continues west over open moorland, and the path is eroded in places, wet even on dry days. Lord Hereford's Knob (690m, +140m)is close by, but after a short descent, its a long walk along the ridge gently ascending to Waun Fach (811m, +200m).

From here, its a steep descent down to the Myndd Du car park.

Note this is the Black Mountains (plural) mountain range, at the eastern end of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which contains a top called Black Mountain (singular) / Twyn Lech. There is also a mountain range called Black Mountain (singular) at the western end of the national park.

Walk Options

Split the walk in 2, and do 2 shorter day walks around the 2 adjoining 'U' shaped valleys, with just 1 steep ascent.

  • Vale of Ewyas Circular. A spectacular 'U' shaped glacial valley walk, that covers the eastern half of the main walk. Start from Capel-y-ffin, ascend the "Offer's Dyke" path ridge (+ 320m), follow it to Hay Bluff (+ 80m), descend to Gospel Pass (alternate start), then back up to Lord Hereford's Knob (+ 140m), then descend an arete, steeply at the end, back to Capel-y-ffin.
  • Grwyne Fawr Circular. A spectacular 'U' shaped glacial valley walk that covers the western half of the main walk. Start from the Myndd Du car park, steeply ascend an aret (+ 250m). The hard walk done, follow the aret (glacial ridge) to the ridge (+ 110m), then follow it around, gently ascending to Waun Fauch (+ 200m total). Finally, its a steep descent back down to the car park.

Much easier linear short walks starting from Gospel Pass, the highest road in Wales, at 549m (1,801 ft!).

  • Gospel Pass to Hay Bluff and the "Offer's Dyke" ridge : Starting from the Gospel Pass car park on the ridge, follow this gentle out-and-back linear walk east to Hay Bluff, then along the spectacular "Offer's Dyke" ridge.
  • Gospel Pass to Lord Hereford's Knob and Waun Fach : Starting from Gospel Pass, walk west to the main Black Mountains peak with just 250m of ascent.

This is a very long remote walk over very exposed open moorland. The ony road access / escape route is at Gospel Pass.

Check the weather before leaving home! Let someone know you are going! Take a survival bag, spare batteries and don't rely on your phone alone for navigation.


Vale of Ewyas. The single track with passing places valley road runs from Hay-on-Wye in the north, via Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony (pub, ruined medieval priory) to the A465 (and Abergavenny) in the south.. Note: both places are in the same postcode - navigate by name instead when nearby

  • Gospel Pass car park: NP7 7NP - narrow road up from Hay on Wye to the highest car park in Wales. Small, free. Get there early on a sunny day.
  • Capel-y-ffin : NP7 7NP - limited roadside parking - the same single track road with passing places as Gospel Pass.

Grwyne Fawr valley

  • Myndd Du car park. NP7 7LY. Large. Free. Almost as far as you can go along the Grwne Fawr valley road, north of A465 / Abergavenny. The car park is at the end of a 10 mile long dead end road. Be careful if searching by name, there are several Myndd Du's.

This walk can't be done by public transport. Hay-on-Wye (coach/bus only, no train station) in the north is too far from Gospel Pass to walk in, you'd have to take a taxi. From the south its 10 miles from Abergavenny station to Myndd Du car park, or 15 miles to Capel-y-ffin hamlet.


Nothing on the walk. There is a hotel/pub in Llanthony, on the Vale of Ewyas valley road.


There is a very small (max 3) mountain bothy, the southern most in the UK, at Grwyne Fawr, just north of the reservoir.

Capel-y-Ffin Monastery is actually reasonably priced self-catering accomodation (rather than a ruined monastery).

Abergavenny has a Premmier Inn, backpackers, and campsite. Hay-on-Wye has many places.

Welsh Glossary

aber: estuary, confluence, river mouth; afon: river; affwys: abyss; allt: hillside, cliff; aran: high place; ban/fan/bannau (pl): peak/beacon/crest, hill/mountain; big: peak; blaen: source of river, head of valley; bod: dwelling; bre: hill; bron: hill-breast; bryn: hill; bwlch: gap/col/pass; cadair: chair; cae: field; caer/gaer: stronghold, fort; capel: chapel; carn/garn/carnedd/garnedd: cairn, heap of stones, tumulus; carreg/garreg: stone, rock; castell: castle; cefn: ridge, hillside; celli: grove/copse; cerwyn: pot-hole; cist: chest; clog/clogwyn: cliff; clun: meadow; clwyd: hurdle/gate; clydach: torrent; coch/goch: red; coed: wood; craig/graig: rock; crib/cribyn: crest, ridge, summit; crug: mound; cul: narrow; cwm: hanging valley/corrie/bowl/dale; cyfrwy: ridge between two summits (saddle); ddinas: fort; dibyn: steep slope, precipice; dim: no; din: hill-fortress; disgwylfa: place of observation, look-out point; dôl: meadow; du/ddu: black, dark; dwfr/dŵr: water; dyffryn: valley; -dyn: fortified enclosure; eglwys: church; eira: snow; eisteddfod: meeting-place, assembly; esgair: ridge; fach/bach: small; fawr/mawr: large; fechan: smaller; ffald: sheep-fold, pound, pen, run; ffordd: way, road; ffridd: pasture; ffrwd: stream, torrent; ffynnon: spring/well; gallt: wooded hill; ganol: middle; garth: promontory, hill, enclosure; glan/lan: river-bank, hillock; glas: green (when referring to grass, pasture or leaves), blue (when relating to the sea or air); glyn: deep valley, glen; gors: bog; gorsedd: tumulus, barrow, hillock; gwyddfa: mound, tumulus; gwylfa: look-out point; gwyn/gwen: white; gwynt: wind; hafn: gorge, ravine; hafod: summer dwelling; hen: old; hendre(f): winter dwelling, old home, permanent abode; heol: road; hesgyn: bog; hir: long; is: below, lower; isaf: lower/lowest; llan: church, monastery; llawr: level area, floor of valley; llech: slab, stone, rock; llther: slope; lluest: shieling, cottage, hut; llwch: lake, dust; llwybr: path; llwyd: grey, brown; llwyn: bush, grove; llyn: lake; llynwyn: pool/puddle, moat; maen: stone; maes: open field, plain; mawn: peat; mawnog: peat-bog; melyn: yellow; merthyr: burial place, church; moel/foel: bare, bald/bare hill; mynydd: mountain, moorland; nant: brook/stream, dingle/glen; neuadd: hall; newydd: new; ogof/gogof: cave; pant: hollow; parc: park, field, enclosure; pen: head, top/end, edge; penrhyn: promontory; pentre(f): homestead, village; perfedd: middle; perth: bush, brake, hedge; plas: hall, mansion; pont/bont: bridge; porth: gate/gateway, harbour/bay/landing-place/ferry; pwll: pit, pool; rhiw: hill, slope; rhos: moor, promontory; rhudd: red, crimson; rhyd: ford; sarn: causeway; sgwd/rhaeadr: waterfall; sticill: stile; sych: dry; tafarn: tavern; tâl: end, top; talar: headland (of field); tan/dan: below; tarren/darren: escarpment; tir: land, territory; tor: break, gap; tre/tref: settlement, hamlet, town; twlch: tump, knoll; twll: hole, pit; tŵr: tower; twyn: hill; tŷ: house; uchaf: upper, highest; uwch: above, over; waun/gwaun: moorland, meadow; wen/wyn: white; y, yr, ‘r: the; ynys: island, holm, river-meadow; ysgol: ladder, formation on mountain-side/school; ysgwydd: shoulder (of mountain); ystafell: chamber, hiding-place; ystrad: wide valley, holm, river-meadow.

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By Car

Start Myndd Du car park, north of Patrishow, Abergavenny, NP7 7LY Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


May-22 Andrew

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