Hay Bluff 2009

Ridge walking in the Black Mountains.

Hay Bluff is a steep buttress at the north edge of the Black Mountains, overlooking the town of Hay-on-Wye. It is the end of the eastern-most major ridge of the Black Mountains, which contains only two mountain summits; Black Mountain (703 metres), and the Black Mountain South Top (637 metres). At the other end of the ridge is Hatterall Hill (531 metres). Hay Bluff is 677 metres high and its face is impressive, but as it only has just under 11 metres of prominence, it is relegated to being just a buttress of the Black Mountain.

Black Mountain (the peak in the Black Mountains, not The Black Mountain range at the other end of the park) sits on the border between England and Wales, and is the highest point in South England (the nearest higher point in England being as far away as the Yorkshire Dales), and along its ridge is the 1200 year old Offa's Dyke defensive earthwork, which separated the local English and Welsh kingdoms (Mercia and Powys). Within Wales, there are 4 taller peaks within the Black Mountains alone, another 11 within the rest of the national park, a further 3 within Mid Wales and 65 within North Wales. The tallest are taller than anything in England. So while I am sure the Black Mountain is impressive for South England, it is very much overshadowed on the Welsh side, where it does not even earn itself a printed name on the map.

The weather was very cold and windy, with the freezing point at 400 metres (and the icy patches on the road seemed to agree), and snow predicted later.