Sugar Loaf Mountain
The road to South Wales from Birmingham winds its way through Abergavenny, and for a long time now I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to climb Sugar Loaf which is on the outskirts of the town. We pass it by on the way to and from the bigger peaks further west, and most recently drove through Abergavenny on the way home from Babcia’s funeral down in Carmarthen at the start of June. On Saturday with no weddings or races on the calendar, we finally made plans to drive down to Wales and walk up Sugar Loaf together. It’s very easy to skip the lower peaks in favour of the bigger climbs of Pen y Fan and Corn Du, but Sugar Loaf on the edge of the Black Mountains is a really beautiful climb, with really good views on a clear day.
It’s been a very hot, very dry summer so far, and it hasn’t rained for at least a month now. The grass is yellow and faded and our hills and moorland are either on fire or decked out with fire warning signs like you find in the pine forests of South West France. The path up Sugar Loaf from the National Trust carpark was very dry and dusty with the exception of a little woodland glade in the valley between the two ridges. We walked down through the woods past sheep hiding from the sun under the canopy of the trees, and up the dried up stream bed through the towering ferns before rejoining the main path to the summit.
From the summit we could see all the way to Pen y Fan and Corn Du further west, as well as some hill ranges back in England, although I’m not sure exactly which ranges they were. On the way back down we came across a group of wild horses grazing the bilberry on the higher slopes. I love horses, and so I was very excited to go and say “hello” although I fully expected them to run away if I got too close. I only had a 50mm lens on me, but to my surprise they allowed me to walk right up to them without showing any concern about my presence.
The original plan was to stop in at Symonds Yat on the way home, like we did after our anniversary climb in the Brecon Beacons last August, but it was getting quite late by the time we got down from Sugar Loaf so we’ll save that for another day. Coming round the corner to the carpark and seeing our little red car alone overlooking the valley made us both smile. Objectively it’s just a lump of metal, plastic and glass filled with fuel, but we’ve had so many adventures together in that car and have driven him up to the Lake District, down to the very tip of Cornwall, up mountain passes in Snowdonia in mid-winter, and round twisting lanes in North Norfolk. Next month, we’ll stuff him full of camping gear and head over to France. I can’t wait.