Blorenge/Blorens, from Castle Meadows, Abergavenny

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Slag Heap, Garnddyrys Forge

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Blorenge: the Bronze Age Carn Blorenge and the trigpoint

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Punchbowl, Blorenge

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Ysgyryd Fawr/The Skirrid, from easterly slopes of Blorenge, near Castell Prydydd

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Ysgyryd Fawr/The Skirrid, from slopes of Blorenge

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Coastline east of Newport, with Somerset beyond; from top of Blorenge

SWC Walk 372 - Blorenge (Abergavenny Circular)

03-Aug-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Blorenge from Abergavenny walk

Initial brutal ascent then gentle contours along a tramroad, past ruins of the industrial past to Blorenge's upland plateau. Fantastic views of Usk Valley and Black Mountains

Start & Finish

Abergavenny Station

Length

19.6 km (12.2 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 723m. For a shorter or longer walk, see below Walk options.

Toughness

8 out of 10 Time: 6 hours walking time.

Travel

Abergavenny Station, map reference SO 305 136, is 30 km south east of Brecon, 202 km west northwest of Charing Cross, 74m above sea level and in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is served by the Welsh Marches Line (Newport – Hereford), connecting at Newport to Paddington, with mostly two trains per hour (total journey time from 135 mins). Abergavenny Bus Station is passed early on, bus lines with regular and useful connections are: X3 (Hereford – Cardiff), X4 (Cardiff – Abergavenny), 43/X43 (Brecon – Abergavenny), 83 (Monmouth –Abergavenny).

Saturday Walkers’ Club: Take a train no later than 09.45.

Maps

OS Landranger Map: 161 (The Black Mountains)
OS Explorer Map: OL 13 (Brecon Beacons NP East)

Walk Notes

This expedition through parts of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site up to one of Abergavenny’s mountains, features some stunning views and interesting industrial heritage elements. From the pretty town centre of Abergavenny walk along the curtain wall of Abergavenny Castle and through the Castle Meadows along the River Usk to cross over into Llanfoist and start the ascent up the Blorenge. You go through the Llanfoist tunnel under the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal and commence the quite brutal ascent up through Glebe Wood to the Cwm Craf along the three former Llanfoist Inclines of the tramway linking the canal to some ironworks and quarries on the side of and beyond the Blorenge. From the top of the inclines, a further, very gradual ascent around the side of the Blorenge and through the fascinating former site of the Garnddyrys Forge leads you up a tightening Cwm to the hill’s summit plateau, on a fine weather day with superlative views to the Bristol Channel, the Malverns and Cotswolds and – across the Usk Valley – to the Black Mountains.

The descent follows clear – but at times steep – paths across the heather moorland and down bracken-covered slopes past The Punchbowl pond, set serenely in a very picturesque glacial bowl. From there, follow footpaths through pastures-with-views down to and along the canal for a short stretch back to Llanfoist Wharf, from where you retrace the outbound route to Abergavenny and its many tea options.

An interesting but long extension leads down the far side of Blorenge into the Cwm Lwyd and past many core sites of the Blaenavon Industrial Heritage site.

Walk options

A start/finish at Abergavenny Bus Station cuts 750m each way and 30m ascent at the end of the walk. Pick up the directions at the end of the second paragraph.
A start/finish from the Llanfoist Crossing car park on the outskirts of Llanfoist/Llanffwystcuts 3.1 km each way and 50m ascent/descent.
The same start point can be reached by taking buses 3 or X4 from Abergavenny, direction Brynmawr, to the Llanfoist Inn stop and continuing for a few hundred metres along the road.

An Extension dips down the far side of Blorenge into the Cwm Lwyd to the core part of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, famous for many relics of the heavy industrial history of the Welsh Valleys, including The Big Pit National Mining Museum. This highly interesting detour adds 9.9 km and 250m ascent though!
A Shortcut on the Extension cuts 3.6 km and about half of the ascent.
A Short Diversion off that Extension leads to The Whistle Inn tea stop.
Buses from Blaenavon take you to Cwmbrân or Newport for the train line back to Abergavenny.

Lunch

Picnic.

Lunch/Tea Blaenavon Extension

The Whistle Inn & Campsite The Whistle Inn is located 12.6 km into the walk.
The Castle Hotel The Castle Hotel is located 16.7 km in to the walk.
The Lion Hotel & Restaurant Located 16.9 km into the walk.

Tea all walk options

The Bridge Inn Merthyr Road, Llanfoist, Abergavenny, NP7 9LH (01873 854 831). The Bridge Inn is located 2.2 km from the end of the walk and 1.5 km from Abergavenny Bus Station. Open daily 12.00-21.00. Food served 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-20.30 Thu-Sat and 12.00-15.00 Sun.

Plenty of places in Abergavenny’s Town Centre. See the walk directions for details.

Notes

Abergavenny/Y Fenni, Abergavenny Castle/Castell y Fenni

Abergavenny (Welsh: Y Fenni, archaically Abergafenni meaning "Mouth of the River Gavenny") is a market town in Monmouthshire, Wales, about 10 km from the border with England. It is located at the confluence of the River Usk and a tributary stream, the Gavenny and on the A40 trunk road and the A465 Heads of the Valleys road and is promoted as a Gateway to Wales.
Originally it was the site of a Roman fort, Gobannium (after Gobannia, Brythonic for "river of the blacksmiths").
Abergavenny is almost entirely surrounded by mountains and hills: the Blorenge, the Sugar Loaf, The Skirrid/Ysgyryd Fawr and Fach, Deri, Rholben and Mynydd Llanwenarth, with Sugar Loaf being the highest.
During September the town holds the Abergavenny Food Festival.

Abergavenny Castle (Welsh: Castell y Fenni) is a ruined castle, established by the Norman lord Hamelin de Balun ca. 1087 to overlook the River Usk and its valley, and so guard against incursions into the lowland areas south and east of the town by the Welsh from the hills to the north and west. It was the site of a massacre of Welsh noblemen in 1175, and was attacked during the early 15th century Glyndŵr Rising. The high, formidable curtain wall, dating from the 12th century, is now the most impressive part of the ruin. A lodge was built on the top of the motte in the 19th century and now houses the town’s Museum (open daily with free admission).

Usk Valley/River Usk (Afon Wysg)

The River Usk (Afon Wysg in Welsh) rises on the northern slopes of The Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Du in Welsh), in the westernmost part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, initially forming the boundary between Carmarthenshire and Powys. It flows north into Usk Reservoir, then east by Sennybridge to Brecon before turning southeast to flow by Talybont-on-Usk, Crickhowell and Abergavenny after which it takes a more southerly course. Beyond the eponymous town of Usk it passes the Roman legionary fortress of Caerleon to flow through the heart of the city of Newport and into the Severn estuary at Uskmouth at Newport Wetlands. Its total length is 102 km/63 mi.
The name of the river derives from a Common Brittonic word meaning "abounding in fish" or "water", which also appears in other river names such as Exe, Axe, Esk and other variants.
The whole river downstream of Usk Reservoir has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has long been a noted salmon and trout fishing river.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Home to spectacular landscapes, a rich variety of wildlife and fascinating cultural and geological heritage, the Brecon Beacons National Park in Mid-Wales boasts a magnificent array of Old Red Sandstone peaks, open moorland and green valleys, spanning 1,344 km2 (520 mi2). Pen y Fan within the Central Beacons is perhaps the best-known summit but there are many others in the five distinct parts of the National Park (Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Du) in the far west, Fforest Fawr, Central Beacons, the Llangattock and Llangynidr Hills, and the Black Mountains to the east).

Blorenge/Blorens

Blorenge is situated in the southeastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park and also within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site. It overlooks the Usk Valley. The summit plateau reaches a height of 561m, offering fine views of Abergavenny’s other mountains: Sugarloaf and The Skirrid, as well as the Black mountains. It drops away steeply to the northwest into Cwm Llanwenarth, while to the south gentler slopes falls away to Blaenavon at the head of the Lwyd Valley. The high heather moorland ridge continues to the south and assumes the name Mynydd y Garn-fawr. The cairn referenced in the title of this shoulder of Blorenge is Carn y Defaid which sits on the county boundary at 503m above sea. It is one of a handful of Bronze Age burial cairns on the ridge.
The summit plateau is formed from coarse sandstones that lie at the boundary of the Millstone Grit and the Coal Measures, while below lie mudstones, limestones and sandstones and the shape of the hill was modified during the ice ages by the Usk Valley glacier. A smaller glacier carved out the hollow on the eastern side of Blorenge known as The Punchbowl. Small landslips affect Blorenge's slopes, the best-known is the Tumble.
Sir Harry Llewellyn's famous show-jumping horse, Foxhunter, who won Britain's only Gold medal in the 1952 Summer Olympics, is buried on the summit plateau near to the Blaenavon to Llanover road on Blorenge.
Hill's Tramroad extends around the western flanks of the hill and drops steeply down to Llanfoist by means of a series of inclines beneath Cwm Craf. There are extensive abandoned workings for limestone around the northern and eastern rim of Blorenge and some abandoned sandstone quarries.

Usk Bridge (or Abergavenny Bridge/Pont y Fenni)

The bridge crosses the River Usk at the boundary between Abergavenny and Llanfoist, carrying the A4143. It is probably of mid-15th century origin but was substantially reconstructed in the 19th century, to support a tramroad, and again when the two bridges were combined. The tramway, which originally ran parallel to the bridge, carried the horse-drawn Llanvihangel Railway from the Monmouth & Brecon canal at Llanfoist.
The bridge was the subject of two paintings by JMW Turner dating from the 1790s. The first, Abergavenny Bridge, Monmouthshire, Clearing Up after a Showery Day, is held in the collection of the V&A and the second (Abergavenny Bridge) by The Tate. It is a Grade II* listed building and a Scheduled Monument.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal (The Mon & Brec)

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal/Camlas Sir Fynwy a Brycheiniog is a small network of canals following the line of the Usk Valley through the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is currently navigable for 56 km and with only 6 locks (5 of them in Llangynidr). Its rural character and tranquillity belie its original purpose as an industrial corridor for coal and iron, brought to the canal by a network of tramways and/or railroads.
The "Mon and Brec" was originally two independent canals – the Monmouthshire Canal from Newport to Pontymoile Basin and the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal from Pontymoile to Brecon, before joining in 1812. Both canals were abandoned in 1962, but the Brecknock and Abergavenny route and a small section of the Monmouthshire route have been reopened since 1970. Much of the rest of the original Monmouthshire Canal is the subject of a restoration plan, which includes the construction of a marina at Newport.

Cambrian Way/Taith Cambria

The Cambrian Way (‘The Mountain Connoisseur’s Walk’) is a very challenging 479 km (298 mi) linear long-distance high-level footpath traversing much of the highest and wildest parts of Wales. It runs coast-to-coast from Cardiff Castle to Conwy Castle over the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons, Carmarthen Fan, Plynlimon, Cadair Idris, the Rhinogs, the Snowdon massif and the Carneddau and is unmarked in the higher mountain areas. Navigational skills are therefore of paramount importance. http://www.cambrianway.org.uk/

Garnddyrys Forge and Rolling Mill & Pen-ffordd-goch pond

Garn Ddyrys (=tangled cairn) foundry processed the ‘pig’ iron from Blaenavon Ironworks, producing a less brittle, more malleable product, the wrought iron, which was then transported on to Llanfoist and the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal. Built in 1817, the site was only productive for about 50 years and in the 1860’s its machinery was dismantled and moved to a new site at Forgeside, Blaenavon. The railway to Blaenavon had made this a much more economic site. Despite its long idleness, the site of the forge is impressive to walk through with its overgrown foundations of the furnaces, forges and other buildings, as well as the silted up lower and higher ponds and numerous iron slag heaps.

The Pen-ffordd-goch (or Keeper’s) Pond on the summit plateau of the Blorenge was the last of three ponds installed to supply the forge.

Iron Mountain Trail/Llwybr y Mynydd Haearn

The Iron Mountain Trail is an 18 km (12 mi) circular walk around the Blorenge Mountain. The walk, starting from the Pen-ffordd-goch pond and incorporating former tramroads, inclines, footpaths and the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal, encompasses the wealth of historical and natural features which give the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape its unique identity and enjoys views across the Usk Valley to the Black Mountains and into the Torfaen Valley.

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Apr-21 Thomas G

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