Ascent of the iconic Sugar Loaf along quiet paths: lush pastures, ancient oak woods, grassy ridges, heather and gorse. Tea at a vineyard.
19.0 km (11.8 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 595m. For a shorter or longer walk, see below Walk options.
Start & Finish: Abergavenny Station
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.
7 out of 10. Time: 5 ½ hours walking time.
Transport: Abergavenny Station 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.
OS Landranger Map: 161 (The Black Mountains)
OS Explorer Map: OL 13 (Brecon Beacons NP East)
From the pretty town centre of Abergavenny walk up the iconic Sugar Loaf mountain, initially steeply up through lush pastures and ancient oak woods to Twyn-yr-Allt, a former settlement on one the lower foothills of the Black Mountains. From there continue along the mildly undulating treeless plateau tox Deri hill, covered in whimberries, bracken and gorse before turning steeply up the barren easterly flank of Sugar Loaf through the upland heathland, to the summit ridge of the southernmost peak of the Black Mountains, with superb panoramic views (in good weather) across South Wales and South West England.
Sugar Loaf is an immensely popular destination. The chosen route avoids paths from and to popular car parks, preferring quieter paths, while providing for a mixture of environments and views in all directions.
Due to being a conical top distant from any neighbouring mountain chain, Sugar Loaf is very exposed to bad weather. Especially the summit plateau can be unforgiving. Only the very highest bit can be skirted.
A longer descent route and a scenic diversion to a nearby pub at the bottom of the mountain in Llangenny are described, as is an alternative descent through Deri Fach oak wood along more challenging paths.
A start/finish at the Bus Station cuts 730m each way and 30m ascent at the end of the walk. Pick up the directions at the end of the second paragraph.
A taxi ride can cut out the first steep ascent out of Abergavenny to the entrance of Sunny Vale farm at the top of the straight bit of Pen-y-Pound road by a sharp right turn (3.2 km into the walk).The taxi ranks with the best chance of a car being present are at the train station and on Frogmore Street by the Tesco (1.5 km into the walk). Pick up the directions at the end of the first paragraph on page 5.
A Longer Descent Route down the flank of Sugar Loaf adds 2.2 km/1.4 mi and 71m ascent.
A Scenic Diversion to the Dragon's Head in Llangenny adds 4.0 km/2.5 mi and 237m ascent to the longer descent route. From the pub it is straightforward to bail out to Crickhowell, along a signed lane.
|Lunch (off route)||The Dragon's Head Llangenny, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1HD (01873 810 350). The Dragons Head is located 2.2 km downhill off the long route, after 12.9 km/8.0 mi of walking. Open 12.00-16.00 Sat-Sun and 18.30-late Tue-Sun. Food served in all sessions. Last orders at lunch: 14.00-14.15 hours.|
The Sugar Loaf Vineyard Coffee Shop and Tasting Room Dummar Farm, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 7LA (01873 853 066). Located 3.7 km from the end of the walk. Open Easter-Dec Tue-Fri 11.00-17.30, Sat 10.00-18.00, Sun 11.00-17.00 (but weekends only Oct-Dec).
Plus plenty of options along the route through Abergavenny to bus or train station. See the pdf for details.
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.
Usk Valley/River Usk (Afon Wysg)
Brecon Beacons National Park
Sugar Loaf/Mynydd Pen-y-fâl or Y Fâl
The Black Mountains/Y Mynyddoedd Duon
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:
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk