The Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell
Distance: 19km / 12 miles
Ascent: 890m / 2920ft
Time: 6 hours
Facilities at start point: Pub, Cafe, Car Park, Restaurant, Accommodation, Bus Stop, National Park Information, Shop, Toilets, Post Office
Day two immediately embarks on a steep ascent along Cwm Bwchel and onto Bal Bach. In fact you will cross three of the four major ridges in the Black Mountains today, which offer stunning views of the Usk, Honddu, Grwyne Fawr and Grwyne Fechan valleys. Partrishow Church should not be missed. Parts of it date from before 1065. The walls have been decorated with colourful motifs and elegant lettering. Crickhowell, the final destination today, is a small town worthy of exploration. The bridge crossing the River Usk should be viewed – interestingly there are more arches on one side than the other!
From Llanthony, head west across the footbridge and up through the obvious valley. This leads you to Bal Bach, where you turn left at the cross paths and so along the ridge. Care should be taken here as navigation can be difficult in poor visibility. Soon after an area of forestry on the left, turn right and descend through the fields past Ty Mawr. Then cross the river at the bridge by the chapel and ascend through Partrishow. If you have time, explore the ancient church here with its superb oak rood screen and mediaeval wall paintings.
From the church head north and then west onto the open hill and to Crug Mawr.
From the summit, follow the obvious path to the south-west. Once off the hill turn right down a permissive path to a lane and turn right. From here the route travels through several fields and a short section of road, before ascending to the hill boundary track below Pen Cerrig-calch.
This passes the Iron Age hill fort of Crug Hywel (or Table Mountain) after which Crickhowell is named. The path returns to the boundary before making an easy descent into Crickhowell following the stream. Crickhowell has a wealth of shops, accommodation and eating places and is on a main bus route to Brecon and Abergavenny.