The Skirrid

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The Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr) lies to the north-east of Abergavenny and is also known as Holy Mountain. Its distinctive shape is due to an Ice Age landslip on one side, although local legends paint a more colourful story. In return for a modest ascent, walkers are rewarded by a one kilometre-long summit ridge. This affords a panorama encompassing the Blorenge, the Sugar Loaf, the Black Mountains and the rolling farmland of Herefordshire. On clear days, the views extend towards the Malvern Hills and the Bristol Channel.

Collectors of trivia may be interested to learn that The Skirrid shares its name with an inn and a mildly successful board game invented by Brian Taylor and Mark Eliot in the late 1970s. There is even a prize-winning cheese named after the mountain, which is described as "...suited to the milder palate. Clean and mild with a unique nutty aftertaste imparted by marinating in mead prior to maturing".

The route starts from a car park off the B4521 and follows a footpath across fields to enter Caer Wood. It winds up through broad-leaved woodland, eased by occasional wooden steps, until it reaches a gate set in the stone wall at the top of the wood. Follow the wall north-east and join a footpath which contours around the eastern side of The Skirrid. After climbing above the treeline, this footpath gives fine views of the farmland in the vale below.

Just after the Black Mountains come into view ahead, join a footpath which doubles back and makes an ascending traverse to gain the summit ridge. A short walk along the ridge leads to the triangulation pillar on the summit, where there are superb views. Two small, chamfered stones and a depression can be seen in front of the trig point. This is all that remains of St Michael's Chapel, which is said to have been a secret location where Catholic mass was held until the church was pulled down in the 17th Century. The summit is partly ringed by the rampart of an Iron Age fort, which is best seen from the north.

One of the highlights of the walk is a north-south traverse along the summit ridge, which is quite narrow in places. After completing this traverse, a short section of stone steps lead downhill, rejoining the upward path near the stone wall at the top of Caer Wood.

Wales - South Wales - Monmouthshire - Black Mountains

Features

Great Views, Hills or Fells, National Trust, Woodland

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