The Black Mountains of Wales on Foot, Bicycle or Horse
Grwyne Fawr Reservoir Black Mountains
Astonishing Beauty Within The Welsh Black Mountains
Visitors to Wales will encounter the Black Mountains adjoining England to Wales from the English County of Herefordshire. The Black Mountain range across the eastern side of the Brecon Beacon Mountain range houses astonishing beauty alongside the kind of isolation that allows you and your party to explore to your heart's content.
The best time of year to adventure the outdoors in Wales is between March to September. If you are planning a trip to the antarctic or artic circle, it is a good place to practise in the winter months, with temperatures below freezing at these times of year.
Warmer months are for walking, mountain biking or horseback riding.
Geological evidence shows that this area of Wales formed part of a glacial ice sheet during the last great ice age. You can see the formation of glacial shapes in the Vale of Ewyas which suggests the present of a glacier during an ice age. The Grywne Fawr Reservoir (pictured above right) was not covered in ice, being too low altitude, yet you can view the landslip shapes that typify glacial formation from the lakeside view.
Vale of Ewyas
Black Mountain Trails
The majority of Black Mountain trails through Wales are available to walkers or ramblers, horseriders and mountain bikers. It is adviseable to ensure you have good equipment including repair kits with you if you choose to mountain bike, and to go in a group as the trails can be very challenging, especially if you hit a sheep going downhill!
The Vale of Ewyas (pictured right) is a great place to start. The combination of gorgeous villages, forest, clear trail paths and the opportunity to scale the 8oom peak of Pen-y-Gadair is an irresistable attraction for many visitors. If walking, you may want to try your hand at foraging for fresh herbs, wild mushrooms and edible flowers. On horseback take in the views at a leisurely pace, stopping to water your horse and rest at mountain streams.
Mountain bikers will find the trails great exercise, with a sloping pace that ranges from mild to challenging. There are not many steep bits so a steady pace can make for a great day out, with the goal of a picnic lunch at the summit easily attainable. The video below shows a group of five mountain biking the Vale region and gives you an idea of the beauty near the summit and the different terrain and speeds possible to encounter.
Mountain Biking The Black Mountains
Black Mountains Llanthony Priory
The Llanthony Priory dates back to 1100 when Norman nobleman William De Lacey discovered a church of St David in ruins upon the site. He was inspired to devote himself to Christianity and built a church there, dedicated to St John the Baptist. He attracted many followers and the site marks the beginning of what is known as the Gospel Passage. 12th century crusaders would depart Wales through the Gospel Passage,
The landscape around the priory ruins is home to the famous nightingale birds and glowworms, which makes an overnight stay very appealing.
Black Mountains Walks Map
Black Mountains Walks
One of the most delightful ways to explore Wales is on foot. Most visitors choose to base this around the opening and closing times for the local pub. Using the map, pictured right, all you need to do to have a great day out is start any village centre of your choice with a good ordinance map. These will assist you to navigate around the area using contours and accurate measurements of distance. Even if you have a walking guide, it is always recommended to purchase a UK ordinance map for accurate information in case you get lost. Plan a pub lunch or a stop in a cafe after a morning's walk, then head off again for the afternoon.
My top tip for visitors would be to scale great heights in the morning, as the winds are usually stronger in the UK in the afternoons, so that is a better time to ramble through valleys and ancient churches.
I've not covered everything to do with the Black Mountains area here, so I've included some great links below to help you enjoy your trip to Wales.
Black Mountain Trails links
- The Black Mountains loop — Horse Riding
Where to ride the famous Black Mountains loop and the Three Rivers ride with links to horseriding companies in the area.
- MBWales - Foothills of the Black Mountains
Mountain Bike trails site for "Foothills of the Black Mountains" plus information for everywhere and everything including where to stay and what to bring. Enjoy!
- Hay-on-Wye Hotels, Self Catering, B&Bs and Caravans :: Stay in Wales
Within 10 miles of Hay-on-Wye, Powys 5 hotels, 32 self catering, 9 bed & breakfast, 1 bunkhouses, 2 caravan/campsite. View as map or list. Quick and easy to find, compare and book accommodation in Hay-on-Wye and elsewhere in Wales.
powysramblers.org.uk - Working for Powys Walkers - the best site for pictures, inspiration and stunning walks to get you excited before your visit to Wales.
Black Mountains Wales
To the East of the Brecon Beacons National Park lies the Black Mountains with the Grwyne Fawr Reservior at point A.