Work and jobs to do meant a late start, getting the X43 into Abergavenny at 12h45. The bus stop is next to Tesco and therefore right on route on the bottom on Pen y pound. I've walked up the Sugar Loaf numerous times but never all the way from Abergavenny town centre, so it was something different and a real pleasure heading up through the oak woods in St Mary's Vale in springtime.
The weather had warmed up since Day #2, though still a pretty fresh breeze was keeping my jacket on despite the climb and that I was carrying the 'full load' including sleeping bag and tent. Though I had the option of the bothy at Grywne Fawr decided to take the tent, just in case it was full or I ended up somewhere else.
Walking up the Sugar Loaf, the only issue was that I noticed my phone had stopped working, or the screen had. Bit of a bummer as for me, like many, it's the primary source of communication and for taking photos. At least it had happened now, so I had a couple of days when to fix or replace it, before heading off on the main part of the walk.
Much of change from previous trips up the Sugar Loaf, even on wet and windy days in December, I had the summit to myself and dropped over to the leeward side for a short break. Not sure how long it had taken (another reason why I rely on my phone) but didn't seem to be too bad time wise. I was also relatively impressed with the Lowe pack and that it felt okay even carrying around 12.5 kilols. Descent down into Forest Coal Pit was nice and didn't need the map as I knew the way.
The next section, up on to the ridge to Dial Carreg and then Bal Mawr and Chwarel y Fan. I might have gone a little off track on the ascent, but ended up on a superb path along the edge of the common land. A great route and something I don't remember walking before. To the summit of Bal Mawr and during a sit down in the circle of stones out of the wind, had another look at the phone. Based on some previous with screens that auto adjust themselves to nearly off, headed under the hood of my jacket and low and behind a faint glimmer. Some sleight of hand and turned off the auto adjust and hey presto working phone. Took some photos and exchanged some messages before heading off up the ridge to Chwarel y Fan.
An appropriate inscription, see coreofthepoodle.com
Extra jacket on and the sharper ridge seemed to pick up the cold wind make it all of a more interesting place. I could see the Grywne Fawr reservoir over to the left and the route down to Capel y Ffin to the right. Whilst the guide book route goes this way, originally for the Youth Hostel (shut 10 years before) and now for the Grange accommodation and camping, I'd made a more pragmatic decision to head for Twmpa and then check out the Bothy and then camp if need to. There is a really nice spot near the dam, that I'd check out years before and had seen more DofE campers there in the past.
The small bothy (sleeps 3) was empty by the time I got there, about 20h00, so sat in the last of the sun and cold wind to grab some food. Made an abortive attempt to light the stove, which didn't last long due to the lack of non-green wood. Ended up crashing out in the last of the light at 21h00 and the temperature was already pretty low, with below freezing forecast for the night.
Was a bit concerned about the likely performance of my very light Rab Neutrino SL200 bag, and went to bed probably overdressed. However not really cold all night and was pretty impressed. I'd taken a spare jacket for extra warmth, but didn't need it, so that will be staying out of the long distance bag.
Distance : 25.78km / 16.02 miles
Duration : 6h22 minutes walking, 1h15 stopping (not enough)
Looking back at Chwarel y Fan ridge from the Grwyne Fawr reservoir