Home Europe Hiking Sugar Loaf in the Breacon Beacons without a car

Hiking Sugar Loaf in the Breacon Beacons without a car

by Kat

When I travelled to Cardiff, I knew I wanted to spend a day hiking in the Breacon Beacons. During my research I came across Sugar Loaf (Pen Y Fal), a conical peak just outside Abergavenny, which looked like just the right level of challenging and, most importantly, offered the reward of stunning views of the surrounding area at the summit.

Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf is part of the range of peaks known as the Black Mountains in Wales’ Breacon Beacons National Park. It’s actually not technically a mountain, falling 4m short of the minimum height for that classification, but it’s often referred to as one. I mean, at 596m it seems a little ridiculous to refer to it as a hill!

As one of the highest points in the area, on a clear day you’re treated to amazing panoramic views at the top of the surrounding Beacons, including Wales’ highest mountain, Pen Y Fan.

Getting to Sugar Loaf without a car

The official starting point for the hike is the National Trust car park. From here it’s a circular route of about 5.5km, taking roughly 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. The only real challenge on this route is the ascent at the end towards the peak, but it’s really not too taxing.

If, like me, you’re without a car on your trip, things become a little more complicated – and challenging! There’s no public bus to the car park from Abergavenny train station. If you don’t fancy forking out for a cab, then you’ll be left with a hike almost double the length (and difficulty) on your hands.

From Abergavenny to the National Trust car park

Beginning at the train station (regular trains run directly from Cardiff), you’ll descend down the hill into the town centre. You follow the road leading north through the town to Cantref and Llywyndu. Once you turn off the main road you’ll be tackling narrow country lanes with no pavement, so be careful of passing cars.

This is where it gets tricky! You’ll need to tackle some long stretches of pretty steep road on the way up to the car park. It can feel relentless, as you turn the corner and there’s another huge slope awaiting you. However, there are some spectacular views on the way up, which make it all worthwhile.

By the time you reach the car park you’ll likely be exhausted, and seeing everyone getting out of their cars fresh-faced just beginning doesn’t help the situation. But there’s good news – you’ve done the hardest part. Everything from now on it a complete breeze, even the final ascent really feels like nothing when you get there!

Circular walking route from the National Trust car park

We navigated our way up to the car park using Google Maps, as we didn’t come across anyone else walking up from the town that day. Once you reach the car park it’s an easy and obvious circular route to follow, and there will likely be quite a few other people to follow.

While the summit looks like a peak from a distance, it actually has quite a flat top, so there’s quite a bit of space for everyone to walk around and take in the views from all sides. Be aware that it’s very exposed so the weather can be completely different at the top to how it is in town – so bring a jumper!

Sugar Loaf Vineyard’s Café and Tasting Room

Once you’re back to the car park, having completed the circular walk, you’ll descend back into town the same way you walked up. You might have noticed passing a vineyard on your way up and it’s well worth stopping in there on the way back for a well-deserved glass of vino, or cup of tea and cake! There are gorgeous views from the veranda.

Summary

Start point: Abergavenny station
Time: Approx 5 to 5.5 hours
Distance: 19km (11.8 miles)

For more information on this hike, this is a great resource that i used to help guide me along the way from Saturday Walkers’ Club.

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