A super 2 hour 20 mins walk summiting Sugar Loaf / Pen y Fâl (596m) in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Magic views all the way, especially from the top.
It’s single track roads (and a few steep sections too) from the A40 to the car park at Mynydd Llanwenarth. I parked too soon, joining the other cars on a large grassy flat patch a couple of minutes’ walk before the tarmaced National Trust car park.
Having checked out the information board, I continued along the road from the car park, which is an unmetalled stony track that gradually peters out into a wide grassy path through the tall green bracken. And sheep.
Staying (relatively) low, the trail skirts the dry stone walls that mark the end of the fields and the start of the open land. The trail drops down to a small stream, alongside (on your left) what would have been woods but which have been cleared since the Countryfile route was published. Looking upstream you have a clear view of the summit.
It’s a shallow stream, easily crossed with or without DIY stepping stones, then the path climbs up from the stream. For a shorter walk, there’s the option of the trail joining in on your right (very obvious in my photo above), but for the longer route (and better views) I kept left and at the top of the diagonal slope the path levelled off and continued towards Llanbedr contouring round the slopes between bracken and the field line.
All along this first half of the route there are great views out over the valley of the River Usk from The Blorenge to Pen Cerrig-calch, and up into the Heads of the Valley (the “new” road – A465 – is the giveaway).
Shortly after passing below some piles of stones (industrial rather than ancient, balanced or cairn), there’s an obvious crossroads of paths and clear views ahead towards Llanbedr, and a particularly prominent farm. Turn right up the grassy path and climb the ridge that leads to the summit.
The ridge route starts steeply, eases off a little into bilberries and heather, then there’s a stiffer climb up to and over the rocky outcrop that marks the start of the summit plateau.
The summit plateau provides 360° panoramas plus a trig point and plenty of space to sit and enjoy the views out over Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Powys.
It was a straightforward descent down the main trail taken by people doing Sugar Loaf as a there-and-back.
The trickiest section was back amidst the bracken and being sure I was on a path that would lead to the car park. I suspect they all do for the most part.
- Start / Finish: Mynydd Llanwenarth / Sugar Loaf Car Park (NP7 7LA), above Abergavenny.
- Start: 10am
- End: 12.20pm
- With: Solo
- Route: Countryfile – Walk: Sugar Loaf mountain, Monmouthshire (which has a route and map on OS GetOutside)