Tarquin's cycling pages

25 October 2008 - Sugar Loaf

WhereSugar Loaf
(Brecon Beacons and South Wales)
Date25 October 2008
Duration2 hours 30 minutes
Distance9.5 miles (~15 km)
WeatherCloudy with strong wind
Trail conditionsMostly dry dirt track and tarmac
Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones 28 Gary Fisher Marlin Disc
Peter Wilton-Jones 29 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp

Trip report

Description by Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones

Originally, we had planned to go on a long caving trip in Ogof Draenen. However, it seems our recent failing in the Gerbil Run was a sign of our aging, and sad realisation of our own mortality. So a trip to the end of St. Giles turned into a trip to the duck at its start, followed by an aborted detour into The Score. Determined not to allow ourselves to become too unfit to attempt the same thing again, we decided to do something else to keep up the exercise. What better than a mountain bike ride?

The trip started on the road running between Mardy and the Gavenni river in Abergavenny (called the Hereford Road, but not the A40). Heading towards Hereford, turn left towards Ty-Gwyn Hall. The road climbs and turns right, then take the next left, and turn left at the end of that road onto the Old Hereford Road.

See pictureTake the next right onto a steep and badly maintained road, then turn right at the next junction. Follow the road to its end, where it swings left into a private house. Continue ahead on a well hidden track to the left of a shed, under the trees. The ability to ride here depends on the depth of leaves and mud, and personal stamina.

See pictureContinue in the same direction to the end of the trees, where the path swings left. Pushing may be required, as it climbs steeply in places onto the Deri. Tired legs don't help.

See pictureSee pictureStay with the same path, which remains relatively level, aside from a few small climbs and descents, as it follows the curve of the Deri After passing the edge of a National Trust fenced section on the left, a narrow and steep path on the right gives the shortest route to the top. It is exceptionally steep in places, though the first few hundred metres can be cycled, given enough stamina (ours was failing by this stage). After joining some other paths, a steep path leads steeply up to the top, and the bikes need to be carried. Unless you truly are a freak of trial biking skill, there are no paths to the summit that can be cycled.

See pictureGet the summit shots, then prepare for some great downhill riding. Take the path to the left of the trig point - the normal way up for people using the Mynydd Llanwenarth car park. The first part requires a lot of care, but after dropping about 20 metres, the path gets just right for a full suspension bike (not so good on the hard-tail), and the next 150 metres disappear very quickly. Take the first main path to the left, just as the path is starting to flatten out. The path runs fairly level, and crosses a few others.

See pictureJust before it reaches a fence, turn right. Then when it splits, take the right branch. This starts to drop, and eventually joing a more significant path. Turn hard right, and follow it to the edge of a fenced woodland. At the end of the trees, turn left down a boggy path, which drops down into the forest in St. Mary's Vale. Once properly inside the trees, it swings left, and starts the final offroad descent down to the stream.

See pictureFollow the track on the other side of the stream, using the path to the left of the track to avoid boggy sections. After crossing a narrow stone bridge over the river, the track climbs up to the road. Follow the road downhill, until just after a farm, it joins another road. Turn right and continue downhill.

When it finally reaches a group of houses, turn left, and stay on that road, crossing another road, until it ends at a junction with a larger road (the Old Hereford Road again). Turn right, then take a left down a one-way system (the wrong way ... I never told you to do that, OK?), with several speed bumps for jumping over. This ends back at the Hereford Road.

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