CW Day #2 : Risca to Abergavenny

Well more accurately from Crosskeys station as once again I found myself on the 06h35 from Ebbw Vale Town station and getting off there. A bit Groundhog day, by it made a good place to start and its free parking. Also the fares are 50% less than those from Abergavenny

It's only 200m from the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal towpath which normally brings you to the Cambrian Way route up to Twmbarlwm. Alas not the case as the canal towpath was blocked for repair and the route up through the forestry to the west was also blocked for felling.

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Decided to take the route through the forestry, which after climbing over the fence, decided it wasn't probably the right approach as a scramble up through felled timber and a contour round a track and then across a stream up to the right path took a while. Would have been easier to go along the road and up the main route. Despite the 2-3C temperature I was down the t-shirt as my on going cold picked up on the transatlantic flight the previous week was making me sweat a lot. Out to the col and then the final pull up to the summit of Twmbarlwm and I final got the trekking poles out (I'd been practising with them). On the summit and trig point by 08h10 and took a few photos and then started heading out along with ridge as the day remained clear.

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Work in the forestry above Risca. Speaking with a local walker, he reckons they were about 10 years too late felling, but it was a pretty big operation.

The BBC forecast was predicted heavy rain by 17h00 so this has dictated the early start and the plan to put on a good pace. The guidebook mentions that the Cardiff to Abergavenny section shouldn't be missed and on a nice morning you could see why. A great view over fresh town of Cwmbran as well as Newport and the Severn Estuary. I went a bit off piste and rather than contouring round above the woods, I went over the top and down by the large mast at the edge of the common. The Lamb is still shut (I did have a drink in there in the past), but the lane down into Pontypool is really nice.

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Heading off from Twmbarlwm along Mynyndd Henllys on what was a fine, if cold morning

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No South Wales town would be without a lost shopping trolley. The short concrete traverse in Pontypool wasn't too bad and the Petrol Station is well placed, even for a coffee. You'll need to head into town for more food

Quick resupply of fluids at the Petrol Station next to Pontypool Park and then up the path to side at 10h40, heading on the long trek towards the Blorenge. After an initial steep ascent the path gets better up to the Folly. A quick chat with a bloke walking his dog on what was becoming a cooler and windier day. Past Pontypool Golf Club and up to the wider common and views opening up towards and beyond Blaenavon. Got to trig point at Garn Wen at around 12h00 and found a slightly sheltered spot along with some sheep for lunch, which took about 10 minutes. Still a bit cold and blustery to hang around (the photo's make it look warmer). What I did find was a memorial to a 1940 crash of a Blenhiem bomber which is mentioned on some other walk descriptions.

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Memorial to a crashed Blenheim bomber and its crew, September 1940

Across to the right you could see The Skirrid and Garway Hill in the distance and ahead were the masts on the Blorenge, which look a lot closer than they are.

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The breezy summit of Garn Wen with the mast of the Blorenge well in the distance

The ground wasn't too wet but boggy in a few spots to keep you guessing. With the wind behind, the slog across wasn't too bad but don't underestimate how long it takes to reach the trig on the Blorenge. Arrived there at 14h30, now bit tired and feeling the effects of my cold. The cold wind and the expectant arrival of heavy rain means I pressed on to the edge over Abergavenny. Great view from here (I'd not been up here before) and Abergavenny looked charming, but not too long for a stop. I chose a route just to the right of the main route, before traversing across to the stile where the path leads down a small valley and to the bridge under the house and canal.

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Still short of the masts which are in fact far away, not small. The path was pretty well defined even if there were only 3 waymarks from Garn Wen to the Foxhunter's Car Park.

Quick check of the bus times and the chance of getting the X4 at 15h35 from the bus station. The route round past Abegavenny Garden centre leads through a subway and then round by Llanfoist Cemetery, which had a Commonwealth War Graves sign near the entrance, and some online research shows it will be worth a further visit.

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The view from the Blorenge down on Abergavenny; heading slightly east(right) and then contouring down saved the knees from the direct descent.

Made the bus with a couple of minutes to spare and then took 45 minutes to make the trip back to Ebbw Vale and where I'd left the car. The buses stop by the Learning Zone for Coleg Gwent and this is right next to the train station. As the rain started to fall, it was a bit of a hobble across to the car and short drive back to Bwlch.

Distance - 34km, 20.5 miles
Total time : 08h20, with probably a total of 1 hour not walking.

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The Tunnel underneath the canal and house at Llanfoist, really rather impressive

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