Sugar Loaf from Abergavenny
Woodland and heathland leading to big views.
This pleasant walk takes you up, up and away from the Usk valley and bustling Abergavenny to the serene summit of Sugar Loaf mountain. You’ll climb 580m in all, through a landscape of great natural beauty that reveals clues of early industrial activity.
Need to know
Length: 9 miles (14.5km)
Time: Around 4–5 hours
Start and finish: Abergavenny National Park and Tourist Information Centre (at the bus station)
OS map ref: SO 301140
OS map: Explorer OL13 (1:25 000 series)
Facilities: Visitor centre and toilets at Abergavenny bus station, cafés, pubs, shops and railway station in Abergavenny
Along the way
This handsome country town, a member of the Walkers are Welcome scheme, is at the south-eastern gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s a lively, prosperous place, with a long history and good choice of places to stay and eat – an ideal walking base for the central Brecon Beacons and Borderland Black Mountains, in fact (it’s surrounded by no less than seven hills). Attractions include Abergavenny Castle and Museum, the Victorian Market Hall, converted Tithe Barn, Borough Theatre and St Mary’s Priory Church, noted for its superb medieval effigies and Jesse Tree. The town is home to a National Park and Tourist Information Centre.
Its Welsh name means ‘small oak woodland’. It’s an ancient coppice, used by our ancestors to cut and burn trees on small platforms to produce charcoal for local industries. Today you can see that many of the oak trees are multi-stemmed as a result of being cut down, then regrowing from the cut stump. Small charcoal burners’ platforms can also still be seen, although the most obvious pits and hollows are the result of stone quarrying. In addition to this fascinating history, these woods, designated a Special Area of Conservation, today provide a unique home to rare and threatened species.
This big, bold, bald hill, at 596m, has a magnetic quality – everyone who visits Abergavenny just has to climb it. They’re rewarded with one of the finest views on the planet, as mountain ranges roll away for 360 degrees in great waves of green. Look west to the flat-topped central Beacons, north-west to Pen Cerrig-calch, north to the Black Mountains, north-east to Hatterall Hill, east to Skirrid Fawr and south across the Usk valley to the Blorenge. What a panorama!