Saturday, November 08, 2014

loafing around

When you're a busy professional person and parent, you don't get a lot of free time to just wander off and go for a walk. When you're wanting to go for walks with other people who are also busy professional persons and parents, opportunities are few and far between and must be siezed upon when they present themselves. So when I and my fellow NCT alumni Huw and Alex found ourselves with an available Saturday (i.e. today) we decided to go out for a walk and to hell with the direness of the weather forecast.

We didn't have a whole day as Huw had to be somewhere else later, so we had to devise a decent walk featuring a satisfying summit somewhere, but which wasn't going to take more than, say, four hours to get round. So we decided to drive up to Abergavenny and tackle the Sugar Loaf.

I'd been up the Sugar Loaf once before, with my parents, back in the summer of 2010. I can't at this point remember the exact route we took, but I think we took a pretty direct approach by parking at the small car park here. This time we decided to make a bit more of a walk of it by parking in town and walking up the Deri ridge, bagging the summit and then walking back down the Rholben ridge to our starting point.

I think the Sugar Loaf is the most pleasing of all the hills around Abergavenny; not only is it the highest but it is a very definite little mini-Matterhorn peak with a little summit plateau which falls away on all sides. The Blorenge, by contrast, is only 100 feet or so lower but is a great bulky lump which, when you get to the top, reveals itself to be just the end of a great long plateau stretching off over towards Blaenavon, and where if you start from that side you can drive to within about 150 vertical feet of the summit.

Sugar Loaf is also one of the Seven Hills Of Abergavenny - not only that but Deri and Rholben are on that list as well, so we knocked off three at once today. That leaves Mynydd Llanwenarth as the only one I haven't conquered, but since this is just another subsidiary ridge of the Sugar Loaf it isn't the sort of thing you'd make the focus of a day out. Next time I climb the Sugar Loaf I'll go up that way and that'll take care of it.

Here's the GPS-captured track info (click for a bigger version) - a modest 8.3 miles apparently, but it turned out to be about right in terms of distance and duration. Although we were in general quite lucky with the weather (it was clear while we were at the summit, for instance) we did get rained on quite extensively as well or we might have got finished a bit quicker. Four hours for the round trip turned out to be pretty nearly spot on.

A couple of other graphical thingies that may be of interest, firstly essentially the same map but with some colour-coding added to show the changes in altitude (of course you could get essentially the same information by careful reading of the contour lines on the OS map); secondly the altitude profile. Both of these are courtesy of GPS Visualiser.

It was too wet for much photography, and my proper camera is currently on the fritz anyway, but a small number of pictures, including the obligatory summit shot, can be found here.

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