Walking in the Black Mountains: 10 Amazing Black Mountain Walks

The Black Mountains are not, in fact, covered in black rock. Legend has it that the mountains got their name from the Saxons, who always saw the mountains in shade from their vantage point on the east of the Wye. The Black Mountains form a whole range spanning across Monmouthshire and the Brecon Beacons, crossing the Wales and England national border. And these Black Mountain walks span the best of the Black Mountain range.

A triangle of three towns surrounds Black Mountain range, including Abergavenny, located in the southeast, Hay-On-Wye, located in the north, and Llangors, located in the west. These towns can easily be used as base camps should you aim to enjoy several Black Mountains activities. 

Hiking is the best way to access views of this mountain range. Whether you hike in the mountain range or around it, these ten Black Mountains walks will make you fall in love with the Brecon Beacons even more.

1. Hay Bluff – View of Valley Loop from Craswall

  • Length: 2.97 miles
  • Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
  • Level of ability: Easy

Anyone who is a fan of the film ‘An American Werewolf in London’ will surely recognise part of this hiking route as the setting for a scene from this classic. In addition to this, it is also very close to the starting point of this hike at the car park for Hay Bluff. Once you have passed this setting, hiking on Offa’s Dyke path, you will find gorgeous views of Lord Hereford’s Knob, less than 2 miles from the Welsh & English border.

Hay Bluff is the main attraction of this Black Mountains walk and does not form as much of a peak as other peaks in the Black Mountains. This makes it easily accessible for beginner hikers and allows them to look toward other mountains they hope to tackle someday. Many views overlooking the Malvern Hills can be spotted as you turn back to retrace your steps to the car park where you started from originally.

Click Here for the full route.


2. Lord Hereford’s Knob (Twmpa) from Gospel Pass

  • Length: 3.05 miles
  • Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
  • Level of ability: Easy

Covering a similar area to the first hike, you will have more of an experience discovering more about Lord Hereford’s Knob. It may be a name that will get a snigger out of you. However, if translated into English, it has a more formal name of Twmpa or The Tumpa. The exact history behind this name cannot be sure, but it gives the hiker rewarding views overlooking Gospel Pass.

As well as these fantastic views, you will also come across a short reflection pool which, if you are brave enough, is available for you to take a brief dip. Simply put, it is the perfect infinity pool provided by the Black Mountains, which you can access easily, especially in the heat of the summer. From this point, walking a massive loop back to your starting point will be very simple.

Click Here for the full route.


3. Llanthony Priory Loop from Llanthony

  • Length: 4.29 miles
  • Time: 1 hour 58 minutes
  • Level of ability: Easy

Llanthony Priory is a 3-star hotel situated ten miles away from the main town of Abergavenny. It is set on the site of an Augustinian house dating back to the 12th century. Today, you will notice that only its ruins remain as you commence this hike between the Llanthony Priory Hotel and the ruins themselves.

Hiking away from these ruins, you will become submerged in the countryside the Black Mountains offer. Sure, there isn’t much to see on this hike apart from some beautiful views. However, it is a good hike if you are a beginner looking to excel at becoming an expert. Returning to the ruins and Priory Hotel, you could treat yourself to a late lunch to complete another excellent hike.

Click Here for the full route.


4. Pen Cerrig Calch Loop from Llanbedr

  • Length: 4.29 miles
  • Time: 1 hour 58 minutes
  • Level of ability: Moderate

Pen Cerrig Calch gives you the best view overlooking the town of Crickhowell. Starting from the small village of Llanbedr, two and a half miles of walking will take you to the Macnamara Boundary Stones, which come with their own long story about how they came to be there originally. The short version: They were named after Mr. and Mrs. Macnamara, who owned Llangoed Hall in the Wye Valley.

After reaching Pen Cerrig Calch, you can access other hiking routes, one of which will take you across the flat top of Table Mountain towards Sugar Loaf itself, and what a gorgeous sight this holds. Those who know their mountains will also be able to spot the ever-popular Pen-Y-Fan mountain.

Click Here for the full route.


Clytha and Coed y Bwnydd Walk

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Level of ability: Moderate

Take a trip back in time and find yourself in 18th-century Monmouthshire, where you are hiking through Clytha Estate. It is an estate known for its love of salmon and trout, but it is also known as a special area of conservation. Hiking along this route will also give you access to Coed y Bwnydd, the biggest preserved hillfort that Monmouthshire can provide.

While you are rambling through this estate, you can easily stumble by another excellent viewpoint that looks out towards Sugarloaf Mountain from an easterly point of the Black Mountains. You will also be hiking alongside the River Usk, which later rises to the most northern slopes of the Black Mountains. It makes you wonder what walking in Monmouthshire must have been like in the glory days of the 18th century.

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6. Sugarloaf Mountain Walk

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Level of ability: Moderate

On the topic of Sugarloaf Mountain, there are hiking trails that will cover this mountain that begins from a handful of surrounding car parks. As eager as you may be to take on this mountain, it is important to note that it is a very popular mountain to hike. This means that completing this hike will require an early start to get as much peace as possible.

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with one of the most scenic views you can expect to experience in the Black Mountains. You can look across the Brecon Beacons and view the Bristol Channel and South West England beyond that.

Click Here for an example of a route involving Sugarloaf Mountain.


7. Dragons Back Circular Walk

  • Length: 7 miles
  • Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Level of ability: Moderate

Even though dragons are mythical creatures, you can certainly get a feel for walking on top of a dragon’s back as you ascend upwards. The mounds you walk over resemble a dragon in a deep sleep, but there’s no need to worry as these mounds won’t suddenly take you by surprise by moving. 

While on this hike, you also have the honour of coming across the highest castle in England and Wales, Castell Dinas Brân. This will certainly be worth the visit after conquering what feels like the back of a dragon. As well as this castle, you will find yourself at the highest point of the Black Mountains, Waun Fach, also known as southern Britain’s second highest mountain.

Click Here for the full route.


8. Pen-Twyn-Mawr and Pen Y Gadair Fawr Circular

  • Length: 16.6 miles
  • Time: 9 hours 47 minutes
  • Level of ability: Challenging

The number of miles that this hike covers may be daunting. However, it is one of the best ways to test your hiking limits and determine how much you want the rewards of beautiful views. Pen-Twyn-Mawr will give you the impression that you are on flat land when glancing in certain directions. However, glancing up at the clouds afterward will snap you back to reality and make you realise you are at the top of another Black Mountains peak.

The second mountain peak you come across, Pen Y Gadair Fawr, can be pointed out thanks to its massive pile of stones which act as a beacon for this mountain. You would think it is looking to become the highest peak in the Black Mountains, even though it currently holds the title of the second-highest peak. Either way, it’s guaranteed that you’ll find the perfect places to stop on this very long hike and enjoy the views.

Click Here for the full route (For ease of access, it can be found on AllTrails).


9. Llanelieu and Capel-y-ffin Circular

  • Length: 13.4 miles
  • Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
  • Level of ability: Challenging

This hike will give you a proper chance to explore parts of the heart of the Black Mountains range. Starting just outside LLanelieu, a small civil parish near Powys, this route will direct you to the Black Mountains’ only reservoir, built in the 1920s. You can then stroll alongside the river to the right until you climb another mountain, Chwarel Y Fan.

Those who are fans of wild ponies will love this route because there is always the possibility of coming across a number of these ponies and watching them gallop across the summit of the mountain. This will look even more beautiful when you see them gallop in front of the setting sun.

Click Here for the full route (For ease of access, it can be found on AllTrails).


10. Black Mountains Loop from Crickhowell

  • Length: 20.2 miles
  • Time: 9 hours 49 minutes
  • Level of ability: Challenging

If you are looking for the ultimate Black Mountains walk challenge and want to see it all, this is the perfect hike for you. You’ll start in Crickhowell, a town very close to Abergavenny, and then embark on your expedition that takes you around the Black Mountains, covering the majority of hiking highlights already mentioned in this article.

From the bottom end in Crickhowell to the summit of Waun Fach, you can expect excitement and drama at the same time while completing this hike, thanks to the steep climbs and clear views overlooking the mountain range, as well as views towards England itself.

Click Here for the full route.


The Black Mountains, although an obscure mountain range to some, will act as the gateway to some of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons. Traditionally titled Bannau Brycheiniog, many of the mountains in this range are indeed named in Welsh. Of course, this allows you to develop your understanding of the Welsh language and improve your pronunciation as you hike – a cultural experience as well as a physical.

Each mountain in this range tells its own story of how it came to be named a particular name, including Sugar Loaf Mountain, whose shape reminded hunters back in the day of common sugar loaves. With this in mind, the Black Mountains will expand your history knowledge and push you beyond your limits to tackle its taunting mountains. They know that you have it in you.

Looking for more inspiration about traveling Wales? Check out our guide on the best waterfalls in Wales or perhaps find one of the most beautiful sunrise spots in the Snowdonia National Park.

By Louie Amos

Louie Amos is a freelance travel writer currently operating in the UK. Having achieved his BCJ Diploma in Travel Journalism, he regularly posts articles on his website The Travelling Foodie, as well as Everything UK Travel

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