Valleys Rail Ramble 13: Ebbw Vale to Abergavenny
Thirteen - unlucky for some, so they say. Except in this case it’s unlucky for everyone.... Because despite a 16 mile walk - the longest and most strenuous yet, despite taking us to the series’ most easterly point, despite Abergavenny being a lovely place to finish, despite actually leaving the valleys (only to arrive in a vale), despite taking in Blaenavon and the Blorenge: a World Heritage Site and a National Park, despite increasing train prices and dwindling numbers, and despite it being 5 years to the day since the first one, this STILL isn’t the last valleys rail ramble. But then, what kind of nutter would do a series of 13 walks, and expect it to end well? Not this one, that’s for sure. Just one more, promise....
A single from Cardiff to Ebbw Vale is £6. A single from Abergavenny to Cardiff £13.90.
Dragons Back and Waun Fach
Classic hill walk in the Black Mountains. Steep at the start but levels out onto the ridge, then a gentle descent.Views are superb on a clear day. Dogs on leads as lots of sheep. Although graded as strenuous, it is really only the first bit that will test your legs. A good walk to step up to if you usually stick to moderate ones. The pace will be gentle.
- Dog friendly
The Malverns from The Gullet
This walk takes in the majority of the ridge of the Malverns, from Swinyards Hill to the Worcestershire Beacon and back. It is aimed at those attending Richard's Worcestershire weekend away, but those not attending are welcome to attend too.
This walk starts at the Swinesherd pay and display car park, Castlemorton Common and heads up to the ridge of the Malverns via The Gullet quarry. It reaches the ridge at Swinyards Hill and follows it north to the Worcestershire Beacon (the highest point in Worcestershire and on The Malvern Hills), taking in Hangman's Hill, Broad Down, Millennium Hill, the Herefordshire Beacon (British Camp), Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Jubilee Hill, Perseverance Hill, Summer Hill and the Worcestershire Beacon. It then returns along a similar route, but to the side of the ridge, offering a different perspective. In good weather the walk provides stunning views of The Malvern Hills and the surrounding countryside.
NOTE: The walk is not as long as some, but it does contain a significant amount of ascent which should be borne in mind when considering the walk difficulty.
NOTE: The starting point can prove difficult to find! For those coming from Worcester, I would suggest taking the A449 towards Malvern and turning left at the Powick roundabout following the B4424 through Callow End and on towards Rhydd. At Rhydd turn right onto the B4211 towards Malvern then, almost immediately, left towards Hanley Swan. Carry on at the cross roads at Hanley Swan and keep going until you merge with the B4208 heading towards Welland. Go through Welland and follow the B4208 until it starts to bend left, at which point you turn right onto Castlemorton Common (if you pass the Plume of Feathers you've gone too far). Follow the road across the common and you should eventually find the car park on your left.
Google Maps directions.
The trackless wastes
Closer to Cardiff than the tourist traps of the central Beacons are places that see few visitors, but there's a reason.
If you are prepared for knee high vegetation, no paths and occasional bogs this walk offers quite a variety. Limestone peaks, old quarry workings, skylarks, a small cave, and above all a sense of remoteness you normally have to go a lot further to find.
Starting at the Garwnant Visitor centre, which has a cafe and toilets the walk begins on clear forestry tracks - but don't be fooled. After a brief section on a quiet country road we strike out across country finding our way via sheep tracks and other unmapped paths across to Ogof Fawr. This is the toughest section of the walk in terms of rough ground.
After a break at the caves and river we make our way onto Mynydd y glog, where the ground is now drier and easier going.
Then it's back across the wilderness to cross the road and make the ascent of Cadair Fawr. From here we drop down through old quaries to pick up the road briefly before joining a path, that exists more in the imagination of the ordnance survey than on the ground, back down to the woods above the visitors centre.
Pen Carreg Calch via table mountain