Tomorrow is a very special day in the Brecon Beacons. St Dwynwen’s Day is the national day of love in Wales and here in the Brecon Beacons National Park we’ll always jump at finding another excuse for a romantic gesture. So here’s a round-up from the Cassanova of the hills, Kevin Walker who knows thing or two about romantic walks! It’s a gentle and diverse stroll through the Usk Valley near Crickhowell. Allow about 2 hours.
It’s a gentle and diverse stroll through the Usk Valley near Crickhowell. Allow about 2 hours.
DISTANCE – 5kms (3 miles)
HEIGHT GAIN – 100 metres (300 feet).
START POINT – Crickhowell.
GRID REFERENCE – SO/219183.
MAPS – OS Explorer OL13. OS Landranger 161.
A tranquil stroll along lanes, footpaths, and the canal, with stunning views and a romantic stop under a very Tolkienesque tree!
PARKING: The main (pay & display) car park in Crickhowell is well signposted off the main road at the eastern (Abergavenny) end of the town. The pedestrian exit through the disabled bays leads directly to the CRiC – the Crickhowell Resource and Information Centre – which is well worth a visit. There is an excellent gallery upstairs.
Leave Crickhowell and turn right along the main road past Castle Garage, go across the entrance to Standard Street (where Henry V’s sheriff’s raised his Standard to muster Welsh Archers prior to the Battle of Agincourt), then cross the pedestrian crossing and continue straight on down the right side of the High Street. Where the street narrows, continue past the impressive mound of the Norman Castle towering above the Dragon Hotel and the cottages to the left, soon reaching a junction by the tiny police station. Turn right down Bridge Street, and follow this through a Georgian time-warp to reach the famous Crickhowell Bridge, which has 12 arches on the near side, and (bizarrely) 13 on the far side! Turn left across the bridge.
On the far side, cross the road, go through a kissing gate, and continue straight ahead along a surfaced footpath across the field. Go through another kissing gate to reach a fork, bear left to reach yet another kissing gate, soon turning hard left by a cottage to reach a small but busy road through Llangattock village. Cross the road and turn right, then take the first turning on the left, and walk alongside the park. Go straight ahead across a cattle grid and into Park Farm, soon reaching a low bridge across a stream, beyond which an awkward metal gate leads into a field. Go through the gate and turn right, then follow a faint path across the field, heading for a stile in the woodland ahead. Cross the stile and climb to reach the obvious “tunnel” through the bushes, then continue on a good path through pleasant woodland to reach a farm track. Turn left and follow this to a bridge over the canal.
Just before and to the right of the bridge, a stile gives access to the canal towpath. Join this and turn right alongside the picturesque canal. Just beyond the first bridge, look to the right and be amazed… there is an unexpected and stupendous tree here – a Giant Redwood of Tolkienesque proportions – a very romantic spot. Having walked around it in awe, continue along the towpath and pass under two further bridges to reach Llangattock Wharf with its fine battery of limekilns. You can, if you like, cross the road bridge to explore the limekilns more closely – there are excellent information boards on both sides telling you about the history of the wharf.
Exploration over, continue along the towpath with the canal to your left, until you reach the next bridge. Leave the canal here, and walk steeply down the lane, soon passing the Old Rectory Hotel and re-entering Llangattock Village. At the church, go through the lytch gate and follow the path through two kissing gates to rejoin your outward path. By turning left it is then an easy task to retrace your earlier steps back to Crickhowell Bridge.
Instead of going back up Bridge Street, bear left at the far side of the bridge, and walk up New Road – the Victorian Crickhowell by-pass! Towards the top of the hill, and just opposite the amazingly narrow and very obvious terraced houses (old weaver’s cottages), turn hard right up the stone steps, and follow the footpath alongside the church. Go straight on to regain the High Street next door to the delightful Bookish shop.
Turn left and continue straight into The Bear Hotel for some well-earned refreshment!