A Cracking Day in the Black Mountains

When planning this trip I plotted a route of almost thirty miles from the Pandy CAMC site to Hay Bluff and Black Hill.  However, I had not legislated for hot weather and the potential impact on Crosby walking that distance.  I am well capable of taking on such a challenge and my four-legged partner would follow me wherever I go.  On a cool day, with plenty of water such a walk is within his scope, but a hot day walking on ridges is beyond him and I cannot carry enough water for the both of us for such an adventure.  So I revert to Plan ‘B’.

The starting point for a walk on the Black Mountains is the car park on the minor road below Black Darren (Grid Reference SO297299).  As I lace up my boots and ensure everything I might need is in my rucksack I admire the view.  It is a corker, especially towards the prominent ridge of Black Hill.

I set off walking in a southerly direction along the tarmac lane.  This is classified a “C” road, but is not much more than a tarmac country lane, I don’t encounter a vehicle but meet plenty of sheep.

I leave the road to join a footpath on the right heading up onto the access land.  Soon the path is immersed in bracken.

I am always cautious walking through dense bracken, it used to be the fear of adders lurking around my feet, but these days the more likely danger is from ticks.  I used to walk in shorts and polo shirts, but the fear of Lyme’s Disease means it is a long time since my legs saw the light of day and I usually have my arms well covered too!

It is with some relief that I emerge through the bracken and continue steadily uphill.  Here I pause to take in the view along the escarpment.

At the top of the hill I wander over to the Ordnance Survey Rhiw Arw trig pillar, I have visited this trig on a number of occasions so can’t add it to my “bagged” total.

The route from here is straightforward, I head north along the ridge following the Offa’s Dyke Path for just over six miles.  However, that description does not do justice to the splendour of walking along this ridge.

Every time I have been up here there have been ponies grazing, despite the challenging conditions and lack of quality grazing they look in good shape.

Today there are ponies congregating around the trig pillar at North Daren.  This is another trig I have previously “bagged”

Further along I get a cracking view of the Vale of Ewyas.

I stay with the path as it follows a paved section surrounded by boggy land and then go through a barren landscape marked with frequent cairns.

In the distance I can see the trig pillar at Hay Bluff, I had intended to make a slight diversion there, but it is crowded and there is little point walking there to be surrounded by people.

After descending a short steep section I reach a junction of paths with two coming in from the right.  I take the route, which initially heads east before turning southeast along a ridge towards Black Hill.

This is a well-defined path and as I near the edge of the ridge I get fine views back across the valley.

Staying with the path I reach the Ordnance Survey trig pillar at Black Hill, this is a new one for me, the 165th I have bagged.

My route now continues along the ridge as it gets increasingly narrow.

I had planned to drop into the valley on my right from this point, but can’t identify a path through the heather so decide to turn around and walk back along the ridge, passing the trig point and then at a junction of paths turn left to head steadily downhill into a valley.

The views are stunning as I follow the clear path downhill.

After heading through some pastureland I reach an impressive wooden gate that I go through to join a track.

This track continues downhill to reach a tarmac country lane where I turn right and cross a stream.  I pass a series of farm drives and then in just over a mile I turn right at a junction.  It is now a case of staying on this road for the best part of two miles, I say road but that is a loose term for a very rural country lane.

Arriving back at the car park I have covered over sixteen miles.  My route was not as initially planned, but I do like being able to adapt a route to take account of changing circumstances.  Hopefully it will not be too long before I am on this section of the Black Mountains again.

You can view this 16 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL13 – Brecon Beacons National Park Eastern Area

15th September 2019

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)



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