Day 1: The Holy Mountain to Llanthony
Finish point: LLANTHONY PRIORY (SO 288278)
Distance: 22km / 13.5 miles
Assent: 850m / 2790ft
Time: 6 hours
The first day takes in two ascents. The first is to the summit of The Skirrid (also known as Holy Mountain), which rises to 486m and the second is onto Hatterrall Hill, where the route joins the Offa’s Dyke for 4.5km. You may be lucky and see Red Grouse that live on the heather moor. Both of the elevated sections afford spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. To the east is the pastoral landscape of England and to the west are the ridges of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains.
In between these climbs you pass through the village of Llanfihangel Crucorney, which has an inn that dates back to the 11th century. The day finishes at Llanthony Priory, a ruin that dates back to 1103.
Our route heads north from Abergavenny railway station, cutting through housing, then heads out of town before passing under the railway/road bridges. Continue along the lane until a waymarked path takes you through two sections of golf course and leads to another lane turning left up a narrow path between the houses to The Skirrid car park (SO 328 165).
The Welsh word ‘Ysgyryd’, which is not in modern usage, almost certainly means ‘split’ or ‘cloven.’
The descent path on the NE slope can be a little difficult to find, but leads down through a bridle gate onto a well-marked path across fields. At the lane turn right, then after about 300m turn left through the fields that lead you to Llanfihangel Crucorney. Carefully cross the busy main road, go up the alley and follow the road right, past one of the oldest inns in Wales and left down the hill. The road’s right fork takes you under the railway line. Turn left then right onto a path taking you to join Offa’s Dyke Path for 500m, then straight on across fields and onto the open hill. The ridge now leads up through a hill fort, past the old enclosure and up to the trig point on Hatterrall Hill.
Follow the ridgeline down to the saddle and from there take the path off left running along the boundary wall. This gradually leads down and through fields to Llanthony Priory.
Accommodation and two pubs are available in the hamlet.