Table Mountain/Crug Hywel from road before final descent

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens) [Road Ending]

11-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sugar Loaf from Crug Hywel

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

19-Jun-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Crug Hywel, from Ascent up Pen Cerrig-calch

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

19-Jun-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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View down flank of Pen Twyn Glas towards Sugar Loaf, with Wild Pony

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

11-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Waun Fach from flank of Pen Twyn Glas, with Wild Pony

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

11-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Crug Hywel from Crickhowell High Street

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

19-Jun-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sugar Loaf from Ascent up Crug Hywel

SWC Walk 333 - Crickhowell Circular (via Table Mountain and the Three Pens)

19-Jun-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Crickhowell Circular via Table Mountain and the three Pens walk

Table Mountain and an airy ridge walk in the Black Mountains across three tops with a scenic descent.

Length 20.4 km (12.7 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 944m. For a shorter or longer walk, see below Walk options.

Start & Finish: Crickhowell Square Bus Stop.

Crickhowell Square Bus Stop, map reference SO 218 183, is 221 km west northwest of Charing Cross, 89m above sea level and in Powys, Wales.

Toughness

9 out of 10. Time: 6 hours walking time.

Travel

Crickhowell is served by lines 43/X43 (Abergavenny – Brecon) with 12 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Saturday Walkers’ Club: This walk is doable as a daywalk from London, especially if you have motorised transport, but also if taking a train to Abergavenny to connect to above bus service.

Maps

OS Landranger Map: 160 (Brecon Beacons)

OS Explorer Map: OL13 (Brecon Beacons National Park – Eastern Area)

Walk Notes

From the centre of the rightly popular town of Crickhowell, within minutes you rise up steeply (with an 12% average gradient) for 3 km – mainly through pastures – to the excellent viewpoint that is the eponymous Iron Age hillfort site of Crug Hywel (or Table Mountain), which gives its name to the town and towers above the Usk Valley. You ascend further up the flank of the main mountain range above the town to Pen Cerrig-calch, the first of three high tops along the ridge. Continue to the slightly higher second top, Pen Allt-mawr and down to the third top, Pen Twyn Glas. The further descent now follows the easterly spur of the range with a gentle gradient and some fantastic views to the valleys either side and out to Sugarloaf/Y Fâl. A short stretch of road walking is followed by a re-ascent up to the col between Table Mountain and Pen Cerrig-calch and then follows the Beacons Way contouring the hill for a while before dropping down to town through the ancient woodland of the Cwm Cumbeth, with the bubbling Cumbeth Brook never far away. The route finishes through the heart of Crickhowell past most of its tea options.

Shorter walks, descending back to town on westerly loops from either Table Mountain, Pen Cerrig-calch or Pen Allt-mawr, are described.
An out-and-back extension to Waun Fach, the highest top in the Black Mountains, or a variation past it and down its main easterly spur, are shown as map-led walks.

Walk Options

A Very Short Walk leads back down to town from the Table Mountain, on a westerly loop along the Beacons Way and down the wooded Cwm Cumbeth (7.5 km/4.6 mi, 389m ascent, 3/10).
A Short Walk leads in a westerly loop from either Pen Cerrig-calch or Pen Allt-mawr (the latter route partly map-led) and down the lower part of the wooded Cwm Cumbeth (11.5 km/7.2 mi, 658m ascent, 6/10; or 16.5 km/10.3 mi, 741m ascent, 8/10).
A Variation of the Ending continues along Llanbedr Lane, entirely on tarmac, cutting out the re-ascent to the Crug Hywel and the descent down the wooded Cwm Cumbeth (cuts 1.5 km and 217m ascent, 8/10).
A Variation of the Variation diverts to a pub in Llanbedr for refreshments (add 530m and 26m ascent).
An out-and-back Extension from the last of the Pens to Waun Fach, the highest top in the Black Mountains, results in a 31.0 km/19.2 mi walk with 1402m ascent/descent, 10/10.
A Longer Walk out to Waun Fach, followed by a descent along its easterly ridge to Llanbedr village and along roads to Crickhowell, has 31.6 km/19.6 mi and 1218m ascent/descent (10/10).

Lunch

Picnic.

Tea

The Red Lion Llanbedr, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1SR (01873 810 754). The Red Lion is located 3.3 km from the end of the variation of the variation of the ending. Open Tue-Fri evenings and all day Sat-Sun.
The Swan Inn 10 Llanbedr Road, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1BT (01873 810 858). The Swan is located 400m from the end of the walk on the alternative (road) ending. Open daily from at least 15.00.
The Dragon Inn 47 High Street, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1BE (01873 810 362).
The Bridge End Inn Bridge Street, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1AR (01873 810 338). The Bridge End Inn is located 360m off route.
The Bear Hotel Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1BW (01873 810 408). The Bear is located at the end of the walk and a former coaching inn with 500 years of history. Large and welcoming.
Several Cafés in Crickhowell, see the walk directions for names and locations.

Welsh Glossary

aber: estuary, confluence, river mouth; afon: river; allt: hillside, cliff; aran: high place; bach: small; 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; cefn: ridge, hillside; castell: castle; celli: grove, copse; cerwyn: pot-hole; cist: chest; clwyd: hurdle, gate; clog/clogwyn: cliff; clun: meadow; clydach: torrent; coch/goch: red; coed: wood; craig/graig: rock; crib/cribyn: crest, ridge, summit; crug: mound; cul: narrow; cwm: hangingvalley, corrie, bowl, dale; cyfrwy: ridge between two summits (saddle); ddinas: fort; dibyn: steep slope, precipice; diffwys: precipice, abyss; 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; eisteddfod: meeting-place, assembly; esgair: ridge; fach: small; fawr/mawr: big; fechan: smaller; ffald: sheep-fold, pound, pen, run; ffordd: 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; or 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; llan: church, monastery; llawr: level area, floor of valley; llech: slab, stone, rock, rock; llther: slope; lluest: shieling, cottage, hut; llwch: lake, dust; llwybr: path; llwyd: grey, brown; llwyn: bush, grove; llyn: lake; llynwyn: pool, puddle, moat; isa(f): lower, lowest; 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; tŷ: house; twyn: hill; 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.

Notes

Crug Hywel/Table Mountain
Crug Hywel (or Table Mountain) is a flat-topped mountain at the southern edge of the Black Mountains. It rises to 451m above sea, from the southern flank of Pen Cerrig-calch (701m), and overlooks the town of Crickhowell, to which it gives its name. Crug Hywel's summit is entirely taken up by an Iron Age hillfort, with a clearly visible earth and stone ditch and rampart.
The hill is formed from Old Red Sandstone originating in the Devonian period, specifically the sandstones of the Brownstones Formation, topped by rocks of the Quartz Conglomerate Group. The whole mass of rocks forming this outlier of Pen Cerrig-calch can readily be seen to dip more sharply to the south than nearby strata and is considered to be an excellent example of a translational (or planar) landslide.

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).

Pen Cerrig-calch
Pen Cerrig-calch is the southernmost 2000ft (609.6m) summit in the Black Mountains and a subsidiary summit of Waun Fach. It reaches a height of 701m, sits high above the Usk Valley where it narrows above Crickhowell and is a very fine viewpoint, with the views extending as far as the Beacons to the west, but mainly along and across the Usk Valley to the Llangattock/Llangynidr hills and down to the Blorenge and Sugar Loaf/Y Fâl by Abergavenny. A ridge runs off to the northwest and the shoulder of Pen Gloch-y-pibwr then turns north to the secondary top of Pen Allt-mawr whose peak is higher, at 719m above sea.
Like all of the hills in the Black Mountains, Pen Cerrig-calch is formed from mudstones and sandstones of the Old Red Sandstone laid down during the Devonian period but it is unusual in having a band of Carboniferous Limestone outcropping around the summit and giving rise to a few shakeholes. A classic example of an outlier, the name of the hill reflects this situation: it translates as 'top of the limestone rock'. It is believed to have been part of the same landmass as the Llangattock/Llangynidr Hills before the Usk Valley separating them now was carved out by glaciers. There are ancient cairns on each of the main tops and small disused quarries once worked for the Old Red Sandstone across the hill's lower slopes.

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/

Beacons Way/Ffordd y Bannau
The Beacons Way is a 152 km (95 mi) linear waymarked long-distance footpath running east to west across the Brecon Beacons National Park. It passes many of the most important landmarks and mountain peaks in the range, but has limited waymarking, especially on open hill and moorland sections, meaning navigation skills are essential. First established in 2005, the route was revised in 2016.

The Black Mountains/Y Mynyddoedd Duon
The Black Mountains (Welsh: Y Mynyddoedd Duon) are a group of hills spread across parts of Powys and Monmouthshire, and extending across the border into Herefordshire. They are the easternmost of the four hill ranges that comprise the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Black Mountains may be roughly defined as those hills contained within a triangle defined by the towns of Abergavenny in the southeast, Hay-on-Wye in the north and the village of Llangors in the west. Other gateway towns to the Black Mountains include Talgarth and Crickhowell. The highest mountain in the group is Waun Fach at a height of 811m above sea.

Usk Valley/River Usk (AfonWysg)
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

The Brecon Beacons National Park is in south Wales. It consists of bare, grassy, glacial mountains, with north facing escarpments. Its peaks, just shy of 1,000m (3,000ft), are the highest mountains in the southern UK. The national park is also noted for reservoirs, and the Dan yr Ogof caves. Its 4 mountain areas, from west to east are:

  • The Black Mountain (singular!) : Fan Brycheiniog (803m) and the Dan yr Ogof caves.
  • Fforest Fawr : Fan Gyhirych (725m), Fan Nedd (663m), Fan Fawr (734m), and the Henrhyd waterfalls (Sgwd Henrhyd)
  • The Brecon Beacons : Pen y Fan (886m), Corn Du (873m), Cribyn (795m), Fan y Big (719m), Waun Rydd (769m). South of Brecon, north of Merthyr Tydfil.
  • The Black Mountains (plural!) : Waun Fach (811m), Black Mountain (703m). Abergavenny to the south. Hay-on-Wye to the north.

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Version

Jun-19

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This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk