Black Mountains, Wales

Black Mountains, Wales

The Black Mountains ( _cy. Y Mynyddoedd Duon) are a group of hills in south-eastern Wales [] , and a small part of Herefordshire, England [] .


They are the easternmost of the three groups of hills that comprise the Brecon Beacons National Park, and are frequently confused with the westernmost, which are collectively called the Black Mountain [] . (To confuse matters further, there is a peak in the "Black Mountains" called Black Mountain.) The Black Mountains may be roughly defined as those hills north of Abergavenny, south of Hay-on-Wye, east of the A479 road (the Rhiangoll valley) and west of, or on, the English border. The Offa's Dyke long-distance footpath runs along the border [] . The area is popular for hillwalking and horseback riding.

Local Area Attractions

There are quite a few villages in this area and one youth hostel* [] , at Capel-y-ffin. The Skirrid Mountain Inn also has a wider reputation, being claimed as the oldest public house in Wales, being mentioned in records from AD 1100. Antiquities include Llanthony Priory, ruined Craswall Priory, Tretower Castle, Tretower Court, the Iron Age hill fort of Crug Hywel, and Castell Dinas, an 11th- to 13th-century castle built on an Iron Age hillfort site between Talgarth and Crickhowell. Cwmyoy and Partrishow churches are also worth visiting.
*The Youth Hostel at Capel-y-ffin closed in late 2007.

The Black Mountains

The highest mountain in the group is Waun Fach [] (convert|811|m|ft|0|lk=on; other Marilyns include the Sugar Loaf [] , Ysgyryd Fawr [] , Mynydd Troed [] , Graig Syfyrddin [] , Allt yr Esgair [] , Myarth, Mynydd Llangorse [] , Bryn Arw [] , and Black Mountain [] . Ysgyryd Fawr is also known as the Skirrid, Skyrrid or 'Holy Mountain'.

In his work "People of the Black Mountains", Raymond Williams described the Black Mountains thus:

See this layered sandstone among the short mountain grass. Place your right hand on it, palm downwards. See where the sun rises and where it stands at noon. Direct your middle finger midway between them. Spread your fingers, not widely. You now hold this place in your hand - the six rivers rise on the plateau on the back of your hand. The first river now called Mynwy or Monnow flows at the outside edge of your thumb. The second river now called Olchon flows between your thumb and the first finger to join the Mynwy at the top of your thumb. The third river now called Honddu flows between your first and second fingers and then curves to join the Mynwy away from your hand. The fourth river now called Grwyne Fawr flows between your second and third fingers and then curves the other way joining the fifth river now called Grwyne Fechan that has been flowing between your third and your little finger. The sixth river now called Rhiangoll flows at the outside edge of your little finger. Beyond your hand are the two rivers to the sea ; Mynwy carrying Olchon and Honddu flows into the circling Wye. Grwyne and Rhiangoll flow into the Usk. Wye and Usk separated by the forest of Gwent flow into the Severn Sea. The ridges of your five fingers and the plateau of the back of your hand are now called the Black Mountains. Your thumb is Crin y Gath or the Cats Back. Your first finger is Hatterall Hill. Your second finger is Ffawyddog with Bal Mawr at the knuckle. Your third finger is Gader with Gader Fawr at the knuckle. Your little finger is Allt Mawr and its nail is Crug Hywel giving its name to Crickhowell below it. On the back of your hand are Twyn y Llech and Twmpa and Rhos Dirion and Waun Fach. Mynwy and Olchon flow from Twyn y Llech. Honddu flows from Twyn y Llech and Twmpa. Grwyne Fawr flows from Rhos Dirion. Grwyne Fechan and Rhiangoll flow from Waun Fach. You hold the shapes in the names in your hand.

Towns & Villages

The towns around the Black Mountains – Hay-on-Wye [] , Llangorse Lake [] , Talgarth [] , Crickhowell [] , Cwmdu [] , Abergavenny [] and Longtown, Herefordshire [] – all provide bases for accessing the hills all year round.


Books set in or around the Black Mountains include:
*"People of the Black Mountains", by Raymond Williams
*"On The Black Hill", by Bruce Chatwin

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Black Mountain (range) — The Black Mountain ( cy. Y Mynydd Du) is a mountain range in Mid and West Wales, forming the westernmost range of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Its highest point is Fan Brycheiniog (802 metres).The range stretches approximately from Ammanford …   Wikipedia

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