This week’s walk of the week recommendation is from Kevin Walker of Mountain Activities.
Kevin is a highly experienced mountain addict who has been running navigation and mountain skills courses for over 30 years. As well as training courses, private guiding and 1:1 coaching, Kevin has appeared on television and radio, and has written many books including Mountain Navigation Techniques (widely regarded as the standard work), Learn Rock Climbing in a Weekend (published worldwide), and Navigation – Finding Your Way on Mountain & Moorland, (published to critical acclaim in 2007). His most recent book, Undiscovered Wales, was published by Frances Lincoln (publishers of the Wainwright Guides) in March 2010. He also writes and publishes guidebooks under the banner Heritage Guides, and occasionally writes for the outdoor press. Further details are available online at www.mountain-activities.com
ALLT YR ESGAIR
A spectacularly scenic circular walk to the top of this often overlooked mountain.
Suitable for anyone with reasonable clothing and footwear assuming good weather conditions.
About 6kms with just under 300m of ascent. Allow three hours.
Allt yr Esgair is a rocky knoll offering stunning views in every direction. There are two National Park information boards giving useful information about the views and the remains of the impressive Iron Age hill fort, and a memorial (in English and in Welsh – one on each side of the wall) to Eirene, Baroness White of Rhymney, who was the President of the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales from 1973 – 1989.
TO GET TO THE START…
The walk starts from a large lay-by and picnic area on the main A40 between Abergavenny and Brecon. The lay-by itself is situated just over one kilometre to the west of the village of Bwlch, and there is often a mobile snack-bar on site (the bacon sandwiches, in particular, are highly recommended!).
There are public toilets at the western end of the lay-by.
From the lay-by, start up the farm track, but immediately turn left through a gate. Follow the track diagonally across the fields through two gates, go under the power cables and enter the woods via a wooden gate. Continue via another gate to a sharp angled T junction and bear slightly left.
Follow the obvious track with increasingly good views, at one point climbing steeply to the right, but soon swinging left again and continuing less steeply. Go through another gate by a pine tree, and continue to the right of a fence. At the junction, go straight ahead following the sign to Pennorth.
At the next gate, take the faint path to the right of the fence, soon reaching the the Paragon Tower. Little is know about these enigmatic ruins. They are believed to be the remains of an 18th or very early 19th century folly or hunting lodge associated with the local estate. They were obvious once a very substantial building comprising several rooms built around a huge central fireplace.
At the far side of the ruins, cross a wooden stile with a white arrow and follow the faint path leading downhill to regain the main path. Turn right and climb gently towards some gorse bushes, soon emerging onto an open field where the faint but obvious path continues straight ahead.
Follow the level path round the hillside – Llangorse Lake soon appears ahead. Descend, keeping alongside the gorse to your right, eventually entering a grove of trees where you bear right and follow any of a number of paths up through the woods, eventually nearing a stone wall to your left and merging with a deeply entrenched track. (NOTE – you can shorten this section by walking uphill alongside the gorse until you reach an obvious gap. Go through this and turn right onto the well-defined path.)
An obvious though sometimes muddy path leads up the centre of the ridge, eventually levelling out at a wooden gate. Keep to the main path with the wall to your left, the summit now obvious ahead. The small rock outcrops on the right make a great viewpoint and there are several sheltered lunch spots along their base.
Leave the summit on the obvious continuation path, soon reaching a wooden gate just before the view to the north is obscured by the forestry. Continue to where a wall cuts across your path. Go through the rightmost of the two gates and continue with a wall to your left and a fence to your right. Through the next gate, keep to the right side of the field, eventually heading for an obvious gate in the hedge at the far end. Look out for deer in the fields to your left!
The gate leads to the route of a Roman Road through a tunnel of trees. A short way along, go through an obvious gate on the right and descend an increasingly steep and ancient lane between high hedges, shortly reaching a gate near a farm. Follow a well waymarked path sharply to the left to reach another gate, then follow the path around to the right, soon heading left down an awkwardly rocky path to reach a surfaced lane which leads directly back to the start.
Taken from the Heritage Guide to Allt yr Esgair by Kevin Walker.
More information about walking in the Brecon Beacons can be found at: