Sugar Loaf 2007

Gateway to the Black Mountains, in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

This was to be Josie's first proper walk up a mountain - the last one she went up was Cadair Idris, and I carried her up that (and damaged my knee, but never mind that now). The target is the Sugar Loaf, on the southern edge of the Black Mountains, in the eastern side of the Brecon Beacons National Park. She took a digital camera with her, to keep her own memories, and quite a few of the pictures were of admirable quality, and are included in this gallery.

The Sugar Loaf is well known and very popular, for its obviously volcanic appearance. Sadly it is not a volcano, and it is only shaped that way due to the small millstone grit caprock that kept the top from being eroded during the ice age. Still, like most local children, we grew up being told that it was a long extinct volcano, and for Josie's enjoyment, this tradition was continued, in the same way as tradition says that a man in a red coat likes to visit near the end of December.

The mountain itself is 596 metres high (nearly twice the qualifying height for a mountain in Britain), and the cars are parked at 340 metres. A relatively easy walk then gets progressively steeper leads up to the trig point, and it is easily enough for a 5 year old. Supposedly the mountain also has a Welsh name of Mynydd Pen-y-Fâl (literally 'the mountain that is the top of the crushed stuff' - don't ask me), but none of the people who live in this part of Wales care, since they all speak English, and call it by its normal name; Sugar Loaf.

These are some of the most important mountains in Wales from a caving perspective. Pwll Du and Gilwern Hill (and a little bit of The Blorenge) house Ogof Draenen, Wales' longest cave. Llanelly Hill and Clydach Gorge house many caves, including Llanelly Quarry Pot. Mynydd Llangatwg houses Ogof Craig A Ffynnon, Ogof Daren Cilau, Agen Allwedd, and Eglwys Faen, together they are longer than Ogof Draenen (but not yet connected), and like Draenen, they have some truly stunning formations. Mynydd Llangynidr has the long but small, muddy caves of Ogof Carno and Ogof Cynnes.