Sugar Loaf Circular from Abergavenny walk

Ascent of the iconic Sugar Loaf along quiet paths: lush pastures, ancient oak woods, grassy ridges, heather and gorse. Tea at a vineyard.

Sugar Loaf from Pandy Inn Walk SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

Sugar Loaf from Pandy Inn Walk

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

04-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sugar Loaf from Deri SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

Sugar Loaf from Deri

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

12-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 banner 47625259752

Sugar Loaf from Deri SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular) [taken by Jenny P]

Sugar Loaf from Deri

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular) [taken by Jenny P]

26-Sep-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 banner 51536021794

Trig Point on Sugar Loaf with Pen Cerrig-calch and Pen Allt-mawr in distance SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

Trig Point on Sugar Loaf with Pen Cerrig-calch and Pen Allt-mawr in distance

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

12-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 walkicon 47625256202

Descent Route down Mynydd Llanwenarth with Usk Valley beyond SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

Descent Route down Mynydd Llanwenarth with Usk Valley beyond

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

12-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 walkicon 47625254742

The Skirrid/Ysgyryd Fawr SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

The Skirrid/Ysgyryd Fawr

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

15-Sep-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 walkicon 48765481542

St. Mary’s Priory Church Interior, Abergavenny SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

St. Mary’s Priory Church Interior, Abergavenny

SWC Walk 334 - Sugar Loaf (Abergavenny Circular)

11-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk334 33800535228


19.0 km (11.8 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 622m. For a shorter or longer walk, see below Walk Options.

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.


6 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)

Walk Notes

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.
Descend gently down the heather and gorse-covered flanks and continue along the gentle ridge of Mynydd Llanwenarth to descend more steeply through the large ancient oak wood of Deri Fach into St. Mary’s Vale and along the spring-fed Nant Iago (stream) to tea at the superb Sugar Loaf Vineyard’s Café and Tasting Room, before re-tracing the outbound route through the town centre.

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.

Walk Options

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 Pentre Lane, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 7LA (01873 853 066). Located 3.7 km from the end of the walk. Open Easter-Dec Tue-Sat 10.30-17.30 and 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.

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.


Abergavenny/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.
Abergavenny 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 the site of a Roman fort, Gobannium (after Gobannia, Brythonic for "river of the blacksmiths"), it became a medieval walled town within the Welsh Marches and contains the remains of a medieval stone castle built soon after the Norman conquest of Wales (open daily with free admission).
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.

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).

Sugar Loaf/Mynydd Pen-y-fâl or Y Fâl
Sugar Loaf is a hill situated a good 3 kilometres north-west of Abergavenny and is the southernmost of the summit peaks of the Black Mountains, with a height of 596 metres above sea. The Welsh Mynydd Pen-y-fâl means 'mountain of the head/top of the peak/summit' from mynydd, pen and bâl and the name Sugar Loaf has been popularly applied to hills with a resemblance to a sugarloaf; the nearest other such hill is the Sugar Loaf in Carmarthenshire.
It is sometimes conceived as an 'extinct volcano', but consists in fact entirely of sedimentary rocks. There are a number of landslips on its flanks which are believed to date from early post-glacial times. The former Usk Valley glacier divided to the north and south of it, though the mountain itself is largely free from glacial till. It is owned by the National Trust who manage its grazing by Welsh mountain sheep. The lower slopes are deciduous mixed woodland with bracken, heather and whimberry (the local term for bilberry), on the upland slopes. The wooded slopes have been designated an SSSI.
From the summit, on a clear day, it is possible to see hills as far north as Shropshire and as far south as Somerset, including the Black Mountains to the north, the Cotswolds to the east, the Central Brecon Beacons to the west and the Bristol Channel to the south.

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

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


Sep-21 Thomas G

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