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The Cat’s Back is one of the finest ridges in the Black Mountains, although being so far east, it doesn’t see as many footprints as one would expect. It’s actually the easternmost ridge of the Black Mountains massif and sits outside the National Park and in fact, in England rather than Wales. This walk starts in the spectacular Gospel Pass, climbs easily up onto the wonderful viewpoint of Hay Bluff, and then follows a clear path across remote ground to the top of the ridge. After a fine descent, it takes a scenic green lane to Craswall, where a great pub and a bus back to Hay-on-Wye await.
1. Looking south (the way the bus is heading), head up the hillside on your left and follow the steep path up onto easier ground. Now continue along the escarpment edge to the Trig Point atop Hay Bluff, where you get magnificent views north over the Wye Valley. Now bear right to follow the obvious flagstone path south-east to a junction of paths in a hollow, marked with a small milestone waymark.
2. Offa’s Dyke Path goes slightly right, uphill, or sharp left, back to Hay-on-Wye, but there’s also a fainter muddy path the heads left, between them. Follow this around the hillside where it soon becomes a lot clearer and bears slightly right to head south-east. Stay with this path for 3km to the trig point on Crib y Garth.
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The walk could be started at Capel-y-Ffin, climbing over Darren Lwyd to Twmpa and then descending to Gospel Pass to follow the directions above.
3. Keep ahead here, still on a good path, and the ridge eventually starts to narrow into a wonderful airy walkway with some dramatic sandstone steps. Continue all the way down the ridge and the steep hillside beyond until you reach the broad muddy track that runs to a gate and a small car-park and picnic area.
4. Turn sharp left onto this track and follow it easily along the edge of the open hillside with great views back up to where you just walked. This continues for 2km before going through a gate and down a short metalled drive to a junction. Bear slightly left (effectively straight ahead) and continue for another 1km to a junction with another bridleway on the right which you ignore. Stay on the same track now for another 500m and a turn right onto a waymarked tree-lined track. Drop down this to the road and turn left to Bulls Head.


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