Archive for the ‘Crug Mawr’ Tag

The Long Way Around   12 comments

Last time we had a weekend day seemingly without rain. I was on my own for the day so set out early (by my standards) for a long walk in the Black Mountains. I parked up at Pont Cadwgan and headed up the forest tracks deciding to add in Crug Mawr as an extra option due to the bright morning and the fact its a fine hill.


Not quite as clear and sunny as the forecast had indicated but dry and that’s what matters especially with the appalling 2-3 weeks of rain that followed.


Crug Mawr doesn’t seem to attract many walkers and I rarely see more than a couple of people up here or on the long ridge that comes down from the high points of the Black Mountains.


I has my first sit down for the day, actually quite pleased for the breeze as it had been a bit hot and airless on the walk up.


Onwards towards those high points I mentioned. This ridge is normally a pretty wet and muddy affair but it was bone dry. Likely it’s returned to business as usual in the meantime.


A spell of brighter sunnier weather drew me onwards until I reached Pen y Gadair Fawr.


Time for another stop as its a few miles along from Crug Mawr.


Next stop Waun Fach, highest of the Black Mountains. They have worked wonders in restoring the grassland up here. The path is now much less boggy and there are huge swathes of grass where once was just black bog. The Trig Pillar on the top used to be lost in sea of peat but now stands proud next to a path through the greenery. Sadly the plague of trail bikes are still leaving their trail of damage elsewhere. The National Park really need to more to do educate and restrict them although I’m not sure how.


Onwards to the northern escarpment for a bite to eat before turning and taking the long route back down the other side of the Gwryne valley


This is looking along the ridge to Chwarel y Fan


It turned quite cloudy and cool for a while so my last stop on the top was a brief one.


I really like the ridge from here to Bal Mawr. Not narrow but airy enough to expose some grand views.


A close up shot of Llanthony and its priory.


Not sure what these trees are – flora and fauna are not my strong point – but they were all in flower all over the lower slopes and looked wonderful both from a distance and close up.


Just a matter of picking my way down to and through the forest and back to the car feeling weary and foot sore. Hardly surprising as my mapping software said 20 miles! As far as I’ve walked in a day for a very long time. I was quite pleased with myself.


Winter is Over   15 comments


Normal November service resumed – after a brief cold snap, mild, damp and grey weather has returned. Last weekend we had THO over for the weekend and managed a couple of walks. On the Saturday after a breakfast at Waitrose (I’m so middle class!) we took a walk up Crug Mawr at the south end of the Black Mountains.


And, we had a new friend with us. This is Mac, THO’s dog and what a lovely little fellow he is. Extremely friendly and sociable it was a pleasure to have him on the walk with us. I’d forgotten how good it is to be accompanied by a dog on a walk. Set us thinking and talking about how and why dogs have forged such a close bond with humans from their wilder origins


It more than made up for what was really a pretty dismal day. As you can see from the photos it was wet, dark and miserable in terms of weather, but company turned it into a fine outing.


We didn’t linger long on the summit of Crug Mawr as it was really windy and, well, damp.


At least most of the smaller tops were out of the cloud to give us something of a view.


We stopped for lunch at the little church in Patrishow. Despite having walked past many times. I’ve never been inside so we put that right.


It’s very old and whilst simple is lovely inside.


The carved wood on the balcony was intricate and would not have looked out-of-place in the Sagrada in Barcelona.


The odd skeleton picture at the back is apparently there to remind us of our mortality!


We had lunch in the Lych gate in front of the Church, Mac scurrying around and begging for whatever food he could scrounge with his puppy dog eyes.


We had plans for a longer walk but we felt satisfied with a walk along the ridge on the other side of the valley and down to the car


It’s a fine ridge that see’s few visitors but not at its best today


Crug Mawr


We headed back to fester at home and enjoy and afternoon and evening watching TV and Mac make himself thoroughly at home in our house.




Posted November 8, 2018 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Back to Winter   12 comments


Well, that’s enough of city breaks for 2017. Time to get back to main feature of the blog namely out and about in the mountains. The weekend after our Barcelona trip and a decent Sunday forecast had us out in the Black Mountains. I’m always looking for a different take or a new route having explored the area extensively since I’ve lived in Herefordshire. I’d done both of today’s summits many times before but never on the same walk.


A late start, possibly because I saw that the forecast was improving, more likely I just stayed in bed too long


It was a cold and windy day with showers scudding over some of the tops. As ever though, sunshine and showers delivers crystal clear clarity to the air and the views



The Sugar Loaf is a fine mountain I’ve been up many times but this is only the second time I’ve been up from the east side



The views from the way up and the top were superb



Not a day for dallying on the summit in an icy wind that I’m sure would have dropped as snow if we’d been caught in a shower



We pushed on down with several mountain bikers on their way up. Too steep for me and a bike I have to say. We had a few drops of rain but nothing much and the skies cleared magnificently afterwards



The last few leaves were still clinging to the trees as Autumn faded away



The steep roads onto the open hillside of Crug Mawr warmed us up sufficiently to take in a short stop for a cuppa and a bite to eat. A grand view along the Grwyne Fechan valley to enjoy



We didn’t linger long as it was pretty cold and we still had long way to walk and the sun was going down




As we approached the summit of Crug Mawr the sun was turning the mountains a deep golden brown


It’s the best time to be on the mountains, late in the day as the sun sets. No-one around but clear skies and gorgeous contrasts picked out by the low angled sun



We briefly enjoyed the summit panoramas before heading off into the approaching darkness


The price to pay for these views was a long walk back along the lanes to the car. TJS was not best pleased by this turn of events and castigated me for my poor planning in having to walk in the dark. I tried to inform him that hiking is not an exact science, that we were well off the hills before it got dark and our reward were some stunning views. He wasn’t placated by this and stomped off to the car. If he’s going to carry on hiking with his old man he better get used to this as I often linger on hills in winter to make the most of  day and end up coming down in darkness

Sugar Loaf & Crug Mawr

A long walk in the end of almost 12 miles but a good one for the future. Most of the road walking could be avoided on valley paths but not a great idea trying to find stiles and gates in the dark. Winter was back, sunny cities a thing of the past. I love my city trips but my heart will always belong to the mountains


Posted December 5, 2017 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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Crug Mawr One Year On   4 comments

A repeat of a walk I did with TJS at the same time last year. This time he was off on a school trip to France and TJF was in a actting workshop. Me a TBF had a few hours to complete a walk before we picked her up. It was something of a brisk walk to make sure we got back in time to pick her up but it’s a fine walk. This year we stopped in the churchyard for lunch. There is a full write up at the link here so I’ve just included a few choice photos and slideshow for this version

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

Crug Mawr, black Mountains, patrishow,  Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Vale of Ewyas,

The Dry Day of the Holidays   6 comments

The Xmas and New Year holiday had one overriding theme – RAIN – loads of it. This was I think the only day while I was off work when it didn’t rain at some point. Me and TJS made the most of it with a walk in the SW corner of the Black Mountains. By way of contrast me and TBF did pretty much the same walk in late September a couple of years ago in a mini-heatwave withe temperatures in the high 20’s. Route map and descriptions are in that post for the factual amongst you.

This time we had to amend the walk as the small parking space was full so some road walking was needed. We headed up direct onto Table Mountain past a couple of rather nice holiday cottages where much Xmas celebration had been going on judging the piles of bottles by the cars waiting to be taken out. The sky was a deep blue and the autumnal views (we haven’t really had a winter this year) were sublime

Sugar Loaf

Table Mountain

Crug Mawr

Sugar Loaf

Up on Table Mountain there were groups of people watching the beagles following a trail on the hills

Sugar Loaf, Table Mountain

Pen Cerrig Calch, Sugar Loaf

The summit of Pen Cerrig Calch there were flecks of snow to remind us that despite the warm start it was winter

Pen Cerrig Calch

The walking up here is easy and we covered good ground looking for a spot out of the wind for lunch. We managed to find a ledge near the top of Pen Allt Mawr tucked into the heather

Pen Allt Mawr

We had an excellent view over Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troed that we climbed last New Year

Mynydd Llangorse, Mynydd Troed


The Sugar Loaf with its prominent summit held my gaze and my lens all day especially as it caught the late afternoon sun

Sugar Loaf

Waun Fach

Sugar Loaf

It wasn’t a day for stopping. Daylight is in short supply in December and this walk pushes ten miles. We managed to get back down to the road before it got dark. The long tramp back down the road to the car was pleasant in the encroaching darkness as we chatted over a fine expedition. Total darkness had enveloped us as we reached the car. An excellent and dry day, a rarity in the months that followed

Pen Cerrig Calch

Crug Mawr and Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort   25 comments

I like to think of myself as a budding local expert on the Black Mountains having been exploring them since I moved to the area in 2002 and especially in the last couple of years. I’m always on the look out for new routes to get some new perspectives and experience a different flavour. After a comment exchange with James over at Backpackingbongos I came across his route on Crug Mawr and the Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort. The latter with its long low ridge towards the main Black Mountains summits has caught my eye several times without ever tempting me enough to scale it. Crug Mawr I never really noticed before so the route was confirmed. As always these days the budding mountaineer and walker that is my son, the Junior Sherpa accompanied me.

9 Miles, 2,300 Feet of Ascent

9 Miles, 2,300 Feet of Ascent

It was fairly cloudy when we set off from home and the start of the walk in Grwyne Fawr Valley was in dark woodland. As we set off through the forest there was a promising glimpse of blue above the canopy.

Grwyne Fawr Valley

Sun through the canopy

I’m not a great fan of forestry plantation roads but this one was fine with shafts of bright sunlight to lead the way.

Grwyne Fawr Valley

Pastures in the forest

We headed onwards through the trees to emerge at the buildings of Ffordd Las Fawr. James had mentioned that he stayed here with friends when he did the walk before and how fantastic a spot it was. It’s no longer occupied and boarded up but the charm of the place is still apparent. There was a sign at the bottom of the hill noting a planning application so hopefully someone will restore it to greater glory. For now I took some photos for James, dreamt of turning this into my home and moved on.

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

Ffordd Las Fawr

From here the route climbs steeply through the woods and boy are the trees dense here. It was quite extraordinarily dark. I was expecting fire-breathing dragons and ogres to lurch from the depths and take us for a snack. No such excitement but it was strangely eerie and unsettling nonetheless. I tried a few photos but it was just too dark. After passing through a couple of clearings we emerged on the ridge into bright blue skies and blazing sunshine, it felt almost springlike.

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

Black Mountains from the ridge to Crug Mawr

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains, Hatterrall Hill, Vale of Ewyas

Across the Vale of Ewyas to Hatterrall Hill

All around was the desolation of cleared forest. I guess it will take generations, if ever, for the landscape to recover its former state. I’m really not a fan of the blankets of coniferous plantations that cloak large portions of our uplands but they seem to be clearing now slowly but surely. We turned and headed for Crug Mawr at the southern end of the long ridge that stretches from Waun Fach, the highest of the Black Mountains. As we approached the top the wind kicked in and it suddenly turned from spring back to winter. It was bitingly cold.

Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

TJS on Crug Mawr summit

The views more than compensated. All a round was blue sky and dark brown heather and bracken clad mountains. The summit is only 550m but it feels higher such is the feast of views spread out beneath.

Crug Mawr, Waun Fach, Black Mountains

Waun Fach from Crug Mawr

Sugar Loaf, Crug Mawr, Black Mountains

Sugar Loaf from Crug Mawr

I could have lingered longer but the cold forced us to move off and down the faint path along the slopes towards Partrishow . After a rather brief and cold lunch spot (it was one of those days when the wind searches you out wherever you sit) we headed down to the valley bottom again past the beautiful stone church of Partrishow.

Partrishow Church

Partrishow Church

Sugar Loaf, Black Mountains

Sugar Loaf

Time to head back up again and we followed a succession of green lanes and paths, twisting and turning this way and that until we finally emerged onto the open slopes of the Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort.

The top was surprisingly crowded with several families playing army and rolling about on the slopes of the old grass ramparts. It had clouded over a bit but the wind had dropped and we found a quiet sheltered spot behind a gorse bush for a snack. The long ridge stretched out before us towards Bal Mawr and the sun returned as we rested. The views were as excellent as I hoped.

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Black Mountains

Black Mountains from Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort,

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort, Hatterrall Hill

Hatterrall Hill from Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

I was pleased to add another mental chapter to my book “Small Hills with Disproportionately Great Views” I checked the map and realised it was quite a stroll back to the car so we pressed on down the easy angled slopes and along the ridge. The first part was enclosed by forest and walls but soon opened out to a narrowing grassy ridge with superb views out to the NE over the Vale of Ewyas.

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort

As the path climbs the ridge towards Bal Mawr, our route took us off on a quite splendid path traversing back above the Grwyne Fawr Valley. The skies had cleared again and we were treated to more spring-like sunshine and golden hillsides.

Black Mountains, Grwyne Fawr Valley

Black Mountains and the Grwyne Fawr Valley

Black Mountains, Grwyne Fawr Valley

TJS on the final leg

It really was a terrific walk this one and one I’d be glad to repeat in stages as a post work walk. All that remained was to follow the path down to the forests and back to the car. Quite a long day in the end at just over 9 miles, both me and TJS were a little weary by the end, both ready for our Sunday Roast when we got home.

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