Post image for Climbing  Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny

Climbing Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny

January 25, 2015 · 13 comments

An easy 6 mile walk to the summit of this most distinctive of  Welsh hills.

Date walked: 13th December 2104

Distance: 6 miles

Map used: OS Explorer OL 13 Brecon Beacons National Park

This walk was taken from “Circular walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park” by Tom Hutton

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This is the nearest walk to my home that is included in Tom Hutton’s little paperback. I have passed by Sugar Loaf countless times in trips into deepest Wales, so climbing it was well overdue.  And we had picked a wonderful day.

Paul and I met in the  (free, but no loos) car park (GR268167) about a mile out of Abergavenny, which Hutton describes as the most visited car park in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s quite high up, too, at 1,131 feet.

Car Park for Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

When I’m too old to walk this would be a nice place to come and eat a sandwich

Paul was waiting for me when I arrived. He very reliably turns up before me and today he was carrying a newly bought Canon G15 which is the same camera I carry on my treks. Good choice.

There are several possible routes to Sugar Loaf from here. None are in any way difficult but we agreed we would keep to Hutton’s slightly indirect approach. This took us  to the west of the hill at first and past a well-built but slightly degraded stone wall….

Dry stone wall near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice tree mix, eh?

….. before dropping down into a steep little valley by a conifer plantation. The sun had had neither the time or the energy to melt the frost off the short grass. Paul sensibly kept to the bracken for a surer footing.

Path near sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

One of Paul’s many virtues is cautiousness

The other side of the valley had had a longer sun-bathe and here the muddy surface was stony but firm.

Walker on a path near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Sugar Loaf is the bump in the distance

The route to Sugar Loaf turned us due east; over to the north we had a fine view out to the Black Mountains (not to be confused as Paul frequently points out with the Black Mountain.)

View to the Black Mountains from near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not that they are very black, which is confusing in itself

Paul got out his camera for some tuition from his Resident Expert (shoot into the sun at every opportunity).

Paul Steer on ther path near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

See, there’s me shooting into the sun and Paul shooting with the sun behind him

We came across a little pond that had had a section of its frozen surface removed and set aside.

Iced over pool near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s interesting that someone would want to take the piece out at all

The spirit of Goldsworthian creativity descended upon us and we launched ourselves on the icy sheet.

Paul Steer (artist) near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

The artist at work

The result was an undisputed success and no doubt led all those who passed by after us that day to pause and wonder.

Frozen Pond by Paul Steer and Charles Hawes, near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Genius wouldn’t be too strong a word, I think

Paul contemplated extending The Work on a larger canvas.

Paul Steer by frozen pond on Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

He’s thinking about it

In this he was defeated.

We agreed that another poolet that we came across nearby required no improvement from us, its previously shattererd surface had already re-frozen into a most pleasing form.

Frozen pond near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nature does wonderful things with ice

As we neared the top of the hill, a lower flank began to intrigue us, where geometric-shaped areas of the bracken had been removed or flattened.

Hillside near Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Aliens?

No reasonable theory emerged from our combined intellects.

Finally. a steeper  section over bumpy ground brought us to the rocky outcrop that surrounds Sugar Loaf’s summit.

The summi9t of SWugar Loaf, near Abergavenny, photographed by Charles Hawes

Pause for another into-the-sun pic……

Rocks on summit of Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not great but you get the idea

…. and some more taking in of the views.

Summit of Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was also a jolly nice spot for a sit, a cup of coffee and  a point. Hutton says that this is a place where Ravens reliably hang out but I didn’t see any.

paul Steer on Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Paul’s an excellent pointer

Refreshed, it was time for my Trig Point picture. Paul thought that I should mount it, as is my wont, but offered no leg-up.

Charles Hawes at the trig point on Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny, photographed by Paul Steer (under instruction)

And besides, I look silly enough as it is

We  spotted an item of peak-graffiti which always amazes me that anyone had given the time to sitting carving their names in such exposed places.

I really don’t mind people doing this; it has a long tradition

Sugar loaf is a popular destination and it began to get positively crowded…

Group at the trig point of Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, photographed by Charles Hawes

 

View from the summit of Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny, photographed by Charles Hawes

Mountains , like dolphins, bring out the pointer in all of us

It was time to go. The track down was quite steep at first but soon levelled out.

paths on Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, photographed by Charles Hawes

Though wide, these paths are not bridleways or even RUPPs, and certainly not BOAT s. None of which was of the slightest interest to a group of three off-road motorcyclists who tore up the path towards us.

Motocycles on footpath of Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Photographed by Charles Hawes

I was a bit worried about Paul for a second as he looked like he was going to launch himself at the leading offender (they have rather made a mess of the mountain where he lives). Me, I decided to try and unnerve them by taking their pictures.

Motocycle on footpath of Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny, Photographed by Charles Hawes

This chap pulled quite a face at me as he whizzed by

Actually no great harm was done by these three, though the peace and quiet of the place was rather cut across.

So here's a nice quiet picture to make up for it.

So here’s a nice quiet picture to make up for it.

What a fabulous place to have on my doorstep.

Tree and bracken on Sugar Loaf, near Abergavenny, photographed by Charles Hawes

Paul drew on this walk for his own blog in a very poetic piece. Do have a look. There’s pics from his garden, too.

 

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Pritchard January 25, 2015 at 7:02 am

I think Tom (or you and Paul) had been anywhere near Storey Arms in the recent weather, I think you might change your view about the busiest car park in the National Park!!

Another great post – still have to arrange that walk at some point!

🙂

Reply

Charles January 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I’m sure that you are right! And it wasn’t that busy. Thanks, and yes, will look at our walk.

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Ian Thorpe January 25, 2015 at 8:52 am

Another entertaining Sunday morning post, Charles; thank you. I know nothing of bracken management, but here in the Clwydian range similar patches of heather are cut or burned to improve the habitat for wildlife, in particular the black grouse we have here. The patterning looks very similar to that in your picture.

Reply

Charles January 25, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Hello Ian! Nice to hear from you. Interesting idea about the heather patches. It just seems like such small areas. I wonder if there are some choice plants that someone is trying to encourage?

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Paul Steer January 25, 2015 at 10:10 am

Ah beautiful pictures! What a stunning day it was.

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Charles January 25, 2015 at 1:18 pm

But what about the art!?!?

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Paul Steer January 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm

The art needed no words Charles ! You are right about the lads doing no damage – on reflection I should not have got so hot tempered – In fact I made it worse as the tail- ender deliberately skidded up some turf at me. Oh foolish old man that I am. The whole walk ,vista and conversation was art. x

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Anne Wareham January 25, 2015 at 10:18 am

Company brings out the best in your posts. But, true, you do look awful. I’m married to you????!!!!!

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Charles January 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

There’s nothing like support from one’s wife!

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Michelle January 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Great pictures. Perhaps it’s a ‘to do’ walk when we have completed the Wales Coast Path. Michelle

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Charles January 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Thanks Michelle. Yes, add it to your list!

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David Marsden January 25, 2015 at 6:31 pm

A good hearty walk, Charles. Sunshine, ice and Alien bracken circles. I often get annoyed at motor bikers on paths but those I’ve encountered have always been pretty polite and friendly. I shall try photographing them to see what difference that makes. Checked out your Canon camera – very nice. And lightweight! There’s a lesson there. Dave

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Charles February 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Hiya. S’cuse the tardy reply. I doubt that photographing the bikers would make them more friendly!. Yes, am happy with the Canon. It is very compact and its versatile and I shoot raw and work the files up. Which takes a lot of time as you know.

Reply

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