The ridge of The Skirrid and Hatterrall Hill

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Bryn Arw from ascent up Llwygy hill

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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The Skirrid from ascent up Llwygy hill

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sugar Loaf from flank of Ysgyryd Fawr

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Trig Point with Views, The Skirrid/Ysgyryd Fawr

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Backview of Prow of The Skirrid (landslip on right-hand side)

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Barn at Llanvihangel Court

SWC Walk 347 - Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular (via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid)

17-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Llanvihangel Crucorney Circular via Bryn Arw and The Skirrid walk

Two easily accessible ridge walks south east of the Black Mountains, quiet pastures with views and a Michelin-starred lunch pub

Length

20.5 km (12.8 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 741m. For a shorter walk, see below Walk options.

Time: 5 ¾ hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 12 hours.

Toughness

8 out of 10

Start & Finish

Llanvihangel Crucorney, Skirrid Inn Bus Stop

Skirrid Inn Bus Stop, map reference SO 325 206, is 7 km north east of Abergavenny, 200 km west northwest of Charing Cross and 144m above sea level and in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Maps

OS Landranger Map: 161 (The Black Mountains/Y Mynyddoedd Duon)

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

Walk Notes

This walk in the south eastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park combines two more-than-a-kilometre long unchallenging ridge walks, offering fantastic views of the surrounding Black Mountains’ hills and the Monmouthshire plain, with some quiet pastures with views as well as scenic wooded valleys, gushing spring-fed streams and a Michelin-starred lunch pub.

From Llanvihangel Crucorney you cross the Honddu River and ascend through pastures half-way up a hill to re-cross the river and ascend the three-topped Bryn Arw on narrow paths through its bracken-covered slopes. The ridge itself is straight as an arrow and the three tops hardly distinguishable, but the views are superb. Descend steeply into the Cwmbrynarw and follow a spring-fed stream to the Gavenny River and go up along the flanks of The Skirrid to its southerly base. Comparatively, The Skirrid isn’t a massive mountain, but it rises high above the surrounding plain and offers one of the most rewarding ridge walks in South Britain along its 1 km spine to the highest point of the mountain, with its trig point and remains of an Iron Age hillfort and a Roman Catholic chapel. From here you have fantastic panoramic views of most of the Brecon Beacons’ Central and Eastern hills.

Descend along the grassy hill flank and through pretty tumbling pastures past the listed medieval Llanvihangel Court back to Crucorney and The Skirrid Inn.

Shorter walks, starting from or finishing in Abergavenny, are possible.

Walk options

Start (map-led) from Abergavenny Station direct to the bottom of The Skirrid (cut 5.3 km/3.3 mi), or to the lunch options Copper Kettle Tea Room (cut 6.2 km/3.9 mi) or The Walnut Tree Inn (cut 7.1 km/4.4 mi).

Have picnic lunch, cut out the out-and-back to both lunch places (cut 3.3 km/2.0 mi).
Have lunch at The Copper Kettle Tea Room, cut out the out-and-back to The Walnut Tree Inn (cut 2.3 km/1.4 mi).

Finish (map-led) in Abergavenny direct from the bottom of the ascent of The Skirrid (cut 600m), or from the lunch options the Copper Kettle Tea Room (cut 1.5 km/0.9 mi) or The Walnut Tree Inn (cut 2.5 km/1.5 mi).
A Variation of this Finish, going over Ysgyryd Fach instead of across a golf course and along the Gavenny River, is possible (add 920m to the Golf Course/Gavenny Ending).

Car Drivers can walk an easy – if initially steep – out-and-back to the top of The Skirrid from the Skirrid Car Park on the B4521.

Travel

Llanvihangel Crucorney is served by line X3 (Cardiff - Abergavenny – Hereford) with 7 buses a day Mon-Sat only. Fares from/to Abergavenny are £3.20 single/£5.40 return (10/19).

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.

Lunch

The Copper Kettle Tea Room Em-Lee Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 8AP (01873 851 929). The Copper Kettle is located 11.5 km/7.1 mi into the walk. Closed Wednesday. Open 09.00-17.00 Thu-Tue.
The Walnut Tree Inn Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 8AW (01873 852 797). The Walnut Tree is located 12.6 km/7.8 mi into the walk and is a Michelin-starred inn with 6 tables of 2 in a tiled bar area, perfect for walkers. Set lunch menus are available. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Open 12.00-15.00 and 18.30-21.00 Tue-Sat. Last food orders at lunch: 14.30.

Tea

The Skirrid Mountain Inn Skirrid View Llanvihangel Crucorney, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 8DH (01873 890 258). The Skirrid Inn is located at the end of the walk. Open 17.30-23.00 Mon, 11.30-14.30 and 17.30-23.00 Tue-Fri, 11.30-23.00 Sat and 12.00-22.00 Sun. Food served 12.00-14.30 (not Mon) and 18.00-20.00 (not Sun). Wales’s oldest Inn.

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; llethr: 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

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.

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).

Beacons Way
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.

Honddu River/Afon Honddu
The River Honddu (Welsh: Afon Honddu) (pronounced hon-thee) is a river in the Black Mountains.
It rises within the county of Powys near the Gospel Pass at the head of the Vale of Ewyas down which it flows, passing southwards into Monmouthshire to Llanvihangel Crucorney before turning north eastwards to join the River Monnow on the Wales-England border. The only significant tributary is the Nant Bwch, though numerous smaller streams add to the river's flow down the steep sides of the vale.

Gavenny River/Afon Gafenni
The Gavenny is a short river in Monmouthshire in south Wales. It rises 1.5 km south west of the village of Llanvihangel Crucorney from springs in Blaengavenny Wood and flows south for about 6.5 km to its confluence with the River Usk at Abergavenny (= ‘Mouth of the Gavenny’).
The diminutive Gavenny is something of a misfit stream in its broad valley. This is due to the deposition of a spectacular terminal moraine left behind at Llanvihangel Crucorney by the Ice Age glacier that flowed down the valley. This has diverted the former headwaters of the river eastwards into the Wye catchment. It is likely that the Honddu and possibly also the upper River Monnow formerly flowed in the Gavenny’s valley to join the Usk.

Ysgyryd Fawr/The Skirrid
Ysgyryd Fawr (English: the great shattered (or split) [hill]; and often referred to locally as just The Skirrid), is an easterly outlier of the Black Mountains and forms the easternmost part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The distinctive shape of this Old Red Sandstone hill comprises a long ridge oriented nearly north–south, with a jagged western side resulting from ice age landslips, caused by sandstones overlying weaker mudstones. There are also numerous rock tables on the hill, some of which were formed by the landslide. The mountain is referred to locally as the Holy Mountain or Sacred Hill, and the ruins of an iron–age hill fort and a medieval chapel, dedicated to St. Michael, lie at the summit, at 486m above sea. Pilgrimages used to be made to the summit and the chapel was used by Roman Catholics during and after the Reformation until at least 1680.
Ysgyryd Fawr has belonged to the National Trust since 1939, and The Beacons Way passes along the ridge.

Llanvihangel Court
Llanvihangel Court is a historic, Grade I listed Tudor manor house with landscaped gardens, located a short distance away from the village of Llanvihangel Crucorney. The current house dates from the 16th century and has been described as "the most impressive and richly decorated house of around 1600 in Monmouthshire". The building was given its present appearance by a substantial enlargement and re-casing of circa 1600 by Rhys Morgan, of the family of the original owners. In 1627 it was purchased by Nicholas Arnold and was further extended by him and by his heir John. Nicholas Arnold was a noted horse-breeder as well as MP for Monmouthshire and was responsible for the construction of the stable block. His son was a notorious anti-Papist and Llanvihangel became a centre of the campaign against Monmouthshire recusants.
It remains a private house and is a Grade I listed building. The stable block (from 1630-40 and largely unaltered) has its own Grade I listing, and the garden house, originally one of two on the site of a former walled garden, is listed Grade II*.
The house opens to the public several days a year, usually in mid-summer.

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Version

Nov-19

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