Black Mountains Walk from Llanthony – Vale of Ewyas Horseshoe
Route Summary: A lengthy circuit in the Black Mountains, along Offa’s Dyke National Trail.
A lengthy circuit in the Black Mountains, along Offa’s Dyke National Trail.
|28.8 km||906 m||8 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Llanthony
Black Mountains Walk from Llanthony – Vale of Ewyas Horseshoe Route Map and GPX Download
Summits and Places on this Route
Black Mountains Walk from Llanthony – Vale of Ewyas Horseshoe Details
This Black Mountains Walk from Llanthony takes in both Hay Bluff and Twmpa, as well as the eponymous Black Mountain, on an epic walk along Offa’s Dyke National Trail and the Wales/England Border. In clear weather, navigation is reasonably straightforward, but in mist it could be problematic on the return section over Twmpa. If in doubt you can descend Gospel Pass or Nant Bwch if you need to descend.
Black Mountains from Llanthony Route Description
1 From the priory car park, head towards the priory which is well worth visiting before you start your climb. The path you need to follow is the Loxidge Trail which connects Offa’s Dyke to Llanthony and can be found by turning left (instead of right into the priory) and then following the track right through the private parking area for Court Farm. The Loxidge Trail then heads uphill alongside the priory (and can be seen on Google Streetview).
2 Continue uphill, following a sign for Hatterall Hill and then a signpost that sends you left “All Routes” rather than continuing along the good track.
3 The path heads uphill steeply now, making good progress to the ridge above and it’s not long before the track heads along open hillside before finally topping out on the ridge.
4 The route ahead is now reasonably straightforward, once you find the Offa Dyke National Trail. However, heading across the ridge you’ll hit it eventually, even in mist. The trail takes you first over the summit of Black Mountain South Top which is not marked on the map and then over the summit of Black Mountain neither of which are named on the map but as the spot heights of 637 and a 700m ring contour respectively. On a clear day, you’ll have big skies and wide views, but it can be harsh up here in severe weather.
5 The outer leg of the Black Mountains Walk finishes off on Hay Bluff – which has more of a summity feel than either of the previous tops. It may be the trig point, but probably as the views now open out across to Y Gelli Gandryll (Hay on Wye) and the Wye Valley.
6 Descend roughly south west, heading towards the minor road at the Gospel Pass and ascend the path on the slope opposite to easily attain the summit of Twmpa (or Lord Hereford’s Knob).
7 The going becomes rougher and wilder now, as you head away from the more popular section of the Black Mountains and Offa’s Dyke and up the gentle slops of Rhos Dirion. From here, you can see the remainder of the walk directly to the south east. It’s getting wetter now underfoot, and with 10km of ridge before you can descend, you better make sure you’ve got some distance left in those legs.
8 It’s a steady plod now, as you ascend, probably, up towards Chwarel y Fan. However, as soon as you think it’s getting a bit samey – the route surprises you with a pleasant ridge walk. In comparison to the previous section, it’s positively precipitous! It’s a welcome variation at this late stage as well!
9 From Chwarel y Fan, head over Bâl-Mawr and the trig point and descend to the junction of the Beacons Way (clearly marked with a cairn as seen below). Head left and downhill on a steep path down Cwm Bwchel. The path’s reasonably easy to follow, but is a green path once you reach the farm at Cwm Bwchel and requires a bit more observation to follow for the final few 100m or so. The path brings you out at Treats, and the ‘centre’ of the village from where you can easily follow the road back to the start.