Brecon Beacons
Wales
2013

Hereford - Black Mountains - Brecon Beacons - Cardiff


6. 5. 2013

Peter Schrammel

Weather

sunny, no clouds

Interest

*****: Incredible traversal of the beautiful South Welsh Mountains

Route

Hereford, 61m - Vowchurch, 107m - Pen-y-Beacon, 478m - Talgarth, 136m - Penggenffordd, 325m - Llangynidr, 127m - Talybont-on-Usk, 124m - Talybont pass, 493m - Neuadd reservoir, 458m - Cribyn, 794m - Neuadd reservoir - Merthyr-Tydfil, 197m - Cardiff, 12m

Altitude difference

+2125/-2174m (bicycle: +1789/-1838 , hiking: 336)

Distance

158km (bicycle: 151, hiking: 7)

Timing

9 3/4h (1 + 1 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1 + 1/2 + 3/4 + 1/2 + 1 + 2)

Stamina

I

Difficulty

0

Danger

2: summit

Visitor frequency

d: quite a lot of road traffic, even on side roads

Report

The plan was to ride from Hereford via the Black Mountains and Breacon Beacons to Cardiff. An ambitious tour, but first I had to get a bike reservation for the trains, which was easy for Hereford, but I wasn't successful for the trains back from Cardiff. Nonetheless I decided to try my luck. I was too lazy to buy the maps so I sketched route on paper. At 8.30am I was an Worcester and had a bit of time to have a look into the cathedral. The town was completely deserted. The railway to Hereford passes underneath the impressive Malvern hills. In Hereford I stopped again at the cathedral before I crossed river and started cycling along a road with quite heavy traffic to the west. It was 10 am when I took off my long trousers. The road led me to Vowchurch with some ups and downs to Vowchurch. From there I took a smaller road that crossed two shallow ridges. The landscape was agricultural dominated by the long hills of the Black Mountains in the background. I continued to the north. I only encountered a few cars that stirred up some annoying dust. After having passed a small church a short steep section started between high hedges on both sides. After a steep downhill I turned left and pedalled uphill again. There were quite a lot of cars on the flat large plateau. There was a stone circle and I observed walkers hiking uphill to peak. Also a German group of classic cars struggled towards the pass while I was riding down the steep hill into valley. I followed a flat larger road to Talgarth. There were some roadworks. It took me a bit of time to find the desired direct road up to Penggenffordd. It was already 1pm. So I stopped at the first suitable picknick place along the pasture. There was a great view over this large valley in the middle of the Black Mountains. The pastures were full of sheep. I rolled down and took a shortcut to the A40 and crossed the river Usk via a nice stone bridge to Llangynidr. From there I followed the canal. I watched boats at the locks and passing through the tunnels. In Talybont I turned left into a long valley with a big dam. The landscape was pretty mutch like a valley above the forest line in the Alps. The last 200m to the pass were very steep. I encountered the group of classic cars again. After having passed the rails of the mining railway I took the road into the valley to the Neuadd dam, which looks like a medieval castle. It was already 4pm when I attached my bike. The original plan was to hike up to top of Breacon Beacons, Pen-y-Fan, but given the time only Cribyn would be possible. The meadow was very boggy and unpleasant to walk. From the top of Cribyn I enjoyed views to the impressively craggy north face of Pen-y-Fan. I arrived back down at my bicycles towards 6pm. The road then followed up and down along the lake before it passed over the dam. Later I took a bike path on the former railway through gorges and bridges to Merthyr Tydfil. I was still far to Cardiff. So, I decided not to go over the hills, but to roll down in the valley. I crossed the town, took a wrong turn and got on a dual carriage way. This was not very comfortable, so I left on the next occasion to take the old road. The signage was very bad; so I never knew how far I was still from Cardiff. I had assumed that the road would just go downhill, but that was not the case. There were nasty ups and downs all the time. Several times I thought whether I should try to go to the next train station and take the train to Cardiff. The journey was never ending and my butt hurt. After a lengthy uphill it seemed that the buildings looked more like the outskirts of a larger city. I asked for the way twice and finally got into the center of Cardiff. The sun was going down. It was already 8.30pm. I was extremeley hungry. So, I jumped into the next Burger king in front of the train station before I took the last train that would get me to Oxford after 9pm. I had to change in Bristol Temple Meads and Didcot and finally arrived at home at 0.30am. I was very, very thirsty and deserved another beer before going asleep.


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