Sugar Loaf Mountain, isn’t that a brilliant name? It sounds like a place from a fairytale. But it’s real, a miniature mountain set in the east of the Brecon Beacons near Abergavenny. It is 596m high with absolutely stunning views.
And a couple of weeks ago we climbed it! Whilst we did successfully reach the top, on the way back we got quite lost. But that was because we did the circuit backwards! If you start in the right place, go in the right direction and follow the National Trust’s detailed step-by-step instructions you’re unlikely to go wrong. Their circuit is about 4 miles and takes only a few hours. Took us a bit longer!
It’s a short moderate climb but slippy in winter so walking boots are a must. It looked like there were other routes too or you could just turn round and go back the way you came to the car park.
To get to the car park you have to drive up some steep curving and narrow roads, something to be aware of if you are a nervous driver. It’s definitely worth the drive though.
We began the walk at 10.00am and the low sun shining through the mists was magical bringing out vivid colour in the grass and moorland. I didn’t expect to see such bright colour in the depths of winter.
When I first saw the mountain I thought it looked like a volcano. It’s not though, made from the same red sandstone as the rest of the surrounding hills.
The views from the top completely blew me away. Rolling mountains dappled with light and shadow covered in dead fern and heather with patches of woodland softening their edges. A patchwork of rural fields flowing into wilderness at the hilltops. The winter sun, mists and clouds created a moody dynamic backdrop.
The top of Sugar Loaf is a small tableau, perfect for exploring the panoramic views without getting too close to the edge.
When we were at the top, a giant black bird with huge wings swooped right over my head. A thrill of excitement ran up my spine. It could only be a raven! Alex didn’t believe me but there was a pair who continued to circle the mountain as we descended. They called out, making the raven’s characteristic echoing croaking sound. I knew it! A wildlife encounter I will never forget.
I didn’t want to leave! We headed down a more gentle ascent, assuming that was the route we were meant to follow. It lead us to an oak woodland, the light giving the branches a silver sheen.
I love looking at winter trees. Whilst not as resplendent without their leaves, I like seeing the exposed shapes of the branches. It’s like artwork, each tree entirely unique.
As we walked through the bare trees we felt like we were in a forest from a fantasy land. (Maybe we’ve been watching too much Witcher!).
After the woodland was where we got lost. But eventually we made it back to the road that leads back up to the car park.
Another amazing adventure in Wales. It’s really beginning to feel like home though it’s still surreal to me that I can escape to the wilderness every weekend. Before moving here, winter was a time of hibernation for me but with so many wild places to explore I can’t resist heading outdoors.