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Black Mountains 2,000s. A big walk!

Black Mountains 2,000s. A big walk!


Postby clivegrif » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:33 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Black Mountain, Chwarel y Fan, Mynydd Llysiau, Pen Allt-mawr, Pen Cerrig-calch, Pen y Gadair Fawr, Twmpa, Waun Fach

Date walked: 15/06/1998

Time taken: 12

Distance: 55 km

Ascent: 2450m

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A big walk in the Black Mountains – all points over 2,000ft in one round.

It seems that some of you like the idea of LONG walks, so here’s another - but this time in South Wales.
The aim this time is to collect all points over 2,000 feet in one round of the Black Mountains, again with a target time of 12 hours. Some of them are infuriatingly only a few feet above the surrounding area – so this could be described as being fairly pointless (or peakless)!
The Black Mountains look a bit like a left hand when seen from above, with the fingers pointing southwards, the broad thumb to the west and skinny little finger to the East. You will walk along the back of the hand, the thumb and all four fingers.

Start at the at the top of Gospel Pass above Hay on Wye – get there early, there are only a few parking spots.
However, starting at 538 metres is a very good thing! This is point is roughly the middle of the back of the hand.
Heading west climb fairly briskly up to the first port of call is Twmpa – Lord Hereford’s Knob. From there follow the line of the escarpment south west for a few hundred yards until there is clearly defined gulley below. At this point as the path begins to climb take the left fork in the path to head due south to the second top, the barely defined Twyn Talycefn. Fear not, you haven’t missed out Rhos Dirion, you are going there next, heading northwest on a path across the moor for just under a mile top arrive at the Trig Point.
A long walk along the edge of the escarpment follows and then south along the broad ridge to the highest point of the walk, the broad top and outcrop of Waun Fach. The other high point Pen yr Gadair is only a short walk away – but not yet! You have a few miles to do before coming back to that one. The way takes a sharp right turn at Waun Fach, decending west along the well defined ridge of Pen Trumau that curves round to the south. Early in the day you may meet a few soldiers manoeuvring around here, later on the other ridges you may bump into groups of youngsters doing a Duke of Edinburgh hike. Continue down to a narrowing of the ridge – but its no Crib Coch – and then up again to the steep sided Mynydd Llysiau. The ridge dips once more, before climbing slightly to the broader top of Pen Twyn Glas. The ridge divides at this point, you need to take the right hand westward fork to the next waymark, namely the trig point on Pen Allt-mawr. Continue for almost two miles south and then southeast to the trig point on the broad limestone pile of Pen Cerrig-calch. You have reached the blunt end of the thumb, above the small town of Crickhowell. This could be a stop off point if you wish to divide the walk into two.
The walking so far has been fairly easy going, with minor ups and downs. However, from here on there will be considerable drops and climbs.
From the trig point head slightly north of east, straight down to where a path leads from the open hillside down to a small lane near Ty Croes Farm. Turn right towards the farm, and then take the left turn at the fork in the road. Follow the lane round to the right to Newadd Fawr to meet a broader road. Follow this road round to the east then curce round to the north. Soon you will take a sharp right fork and within a few yards a path leads up left into the woods. Than path zigzags east and then west emerging onto open hillside again. Follow the path up to the crest of the ridge. You are now walking along the ‘Index Finger’ of the Black Mountain’s hand. A track runs along much of the length over the top is Pen Twyn Mawr, and you will keep a large plantation of forest to your right. Eventually after several miles you arrive at Pen yr Gadair, one of the shapelier tops.
Keeping close to the trees to your right, drop down into the valley of the Grwyne Fawr. Cross the stream, and then go straight up the other side onto the ridge of the middle finger. The first top is only a few yards to the south east, Chwarel y Fan, and then continue south towards the second top Bal Mawr with its Trig point.
The next stage takes you down to the south east and then east into the Vale of Ewyas, crossing the bridge to enter the historic settlement of Llanthony. Take the lane towards the remains of Llanthony Priory, and continue on the footpath, an ancient trackway, that leads uphill first north east, and then south east to meet the Offa’s Dyke path at the top of the ridge. Follow the well trodden Offa’s Dyke path northwards along the ‘Ring Finger’, which is quite level at the 2000 foot mark for some distance. At the point where the ridge starts to noticeably rise, you will be well advised to contour round to the right, because there is an unwelcome diversion you need to make to reach the top of Black hill – the highest point of the ‘Little Finger’.
By contouring round the head of the Olchon Valley you won’t lose too much hard won height.
Follow the path northwestwards from Black Hill until you reach the bridle path that comes up from the valley below. At this point you will need to head due west to reach to top of the ‘hill’ that you contoured round earlier. You will also have rejoined the Offa’s Dyke Path. Keep heading north, turning left at the bottom of a distinct drop to follow an obvious path to the last top of the day, Hay Bluff. It’s all gently down hill from here, heading south west back to your start point at Gospel Pass.
I just about made it round in 12 hours, but I had to jog the last stretch from Hay Bluff (I know, I know, you do these stupid things when younger!).
Sorry - I don't have any good pictures of this area.
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Last edited by clivegrif on Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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clivegrif
Rambler
 
Posts: 1451
Munros:282   Corbetts:33
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:194
Wainwrights:50   
Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Location: Worcester

Re: Black Mountain 2,000s. A big walk!

Postby malky_c » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:30 pm

Ta for that :D

I was looking for a logical way around that lot, but every time I drew a route, it seemed to miss out at least 2 summits (I prefer as little doubling back as possible). This seems to answer the question quite nicely.

Might still end up splitting this into 2 walks, depending on other logistics.
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malky_c
 
Posts: 5963
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Location: Glasgow

Re: Black Mountain 2,000s. A big walk!

Postby AlixH » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:00 am

Thanks for that report. These are so close to home it isn't funny and I still haven't done them all!
Oh the shame :oops:
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Re: Black Mountain 2,000s. A big walk!

Postby Borderland » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:44 am

A great route. Done these peaks many times, but never quite in one go! If you reverse the route then I can vouch for the climb to Pen Cerrig Calch being very hard, especially on a long day and when the heather is high and wet. I won't make that mistake twice. :lol:

I hope you don't mind if I mention that this should be titled "The Black Mountains 2,000s", as "Black Mountain" is a different range in the BBNP about 20 miles west.
Great report btw. :thumbup:
Borderland
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Re: Black Mountains 2,000s. A big walk!

Postby clivegrif » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:19 pm

As AlixH says - Oh the shame!

You are quite right Borderland - the title was missing an S. Duly edited.

People could have gone off to entirely the wrong place!

Cheers
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clivegrif
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Posts: 1451
Munros:282   Corbetts:33
Grahams:10   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:194
Wainwrights:50   
Joined: Nov 28, 2010
Location: Worcester

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