Abergavenny 3 Peaks

Intrepid trailers by Lisa Nicholls

CJ and Stuart

CJ, Stuart, Claire & I set off from NISV at 8am. We park up near Llanfoist garden centre and straight ahead the hills are beckoning. The weather is perfect, its a lovely sunny day so we are hopeful of glorious views.

The first little climb we encounter starts at the bottom of Blorange. Sure enough it gets tougher from here as we head up a 2,000ft climb to the top. Its short and sharp to the top and at this point me and Claire feel out of our comfort zone, not helped by the fact we both have a fear of heights and we got to the top on our hands and knees.The weather up the top is a little windy. We all agree that we made the right decision to cancel this trek when winds were high a few weeks ago!
Bit windy up here on the top of Blorange. CJ arrived some time before us so he’s sensibly sheltering on the side of the mountain out of this blustery wind. Bobble hats and buffs needed but I think Claire was aiming to at least look cool with her shades on.

Down the other side of Blorange and we head to the next peak. Stu is our navigator for the day. He has such a great internal GPS which is one less thing for the rest of the group to think about. That is, until we reach Gilwern and the bridge that crosses the river is closed. CCTV up means we are not going to chance climbing over the security fencing. We feel like its come to an end as there is simply no other route for us to get through. We definitely have to find a way to cross this river otherwise or trek is over. At this point its like having an x-ray and told you won’t be able to run for 6 months. (it aint gonna happen!). And indeed to god, we find a way through. Stu and CJ do the gentlemanly thing, and hold down the barbed wire fence so me and Claire can hop over into the sheep field. Stu then does a side hop over the fence in one jump. Me and Claire look over in awe. A runner and a gymnast hey?! Is CJ going to follow suit here? Well, lets say we know he is considering it but takes the sensible option and climbs over. I’m sure he is glad of the long legs he has because it could have gone badly wrong. So we take a jaunt through Llanwenarth and there she is, ready and waiting for us. (Sugar Loaf mountain).

Despite having higher elevation, the Sugar Loaf was noticeably easier than Blorange and the climb is not as steep. The cloud has also lifted somewhat so we have some amazing views, however its still quite windy up the top so we don’t stay for too long. Just enough time to take a few more pictures before heading back down the other side.
Me and Claire at the top of Sugar Loaf mountain.
Stu, Claire and CJ heading down from Sugar Loaf mountain. The views are just incredible. Its from here that we head to the Skirrid Mountain which you can see in the picture below.
So, if you have visited Skirrid Mountain before you will recognise the steady climb on the right hand side. We are not taking the sensible route though, we are heading up the left hand side. That’s right, the vertical climb you see in the distance. God help us, we were on our hands and knees for Blorange, this is going to be a thigh burner. As we reach the bottom of Sugar Loaf, we look back at the achievement. Hard to believe that we got up one side and back down the other. It looks spectacular in the picture, for sure.
We’ve left Sugar Loaf mountain for the Skirrid and this is the amazing view looking back.

From here on in the skies are blue and the temperature is perfect. As the climbs challenge us, the views make it all worthwhile. There is something quite amazing about trail running. Why do we all run? Fitness, fun, better mental health, more cake, friends, improved social circle? We are all probably used to running the roads of our hometown in Newport and no doubt we reap the benefits as suggested above, however when you get off the tarmac and experience nature at its finest it takes you to a completely new level. Yes, its tougher, yes its much harder work but the feeling you get standing on the top of a hill is amazing. The achievement just getting to the top of the hill is mind blowing, but when you get views like this you appreciate the hard slog that your body is capable of.

We are looking back at both peaks. I find it incredible that we have just climbed both those peaks and we are heading to the 3rd.

When you are looking up from the bottom, the climb looks incredibly daunting. If it had snow you would think its the North Face. Stu and CJ look so upright as they take the slog up, but from here it quite simply is one foot in front of the other.
We just about capture CJ before he starts to head over to the other side. Claire starts the celebrations having reached our final peak.
You ever reach a peak and there’s a queue for a photo with the trig point? I gave up in the end and accepted I had to share my triumph with the local mutt! At least from here its downhill all the way back to Llanfoist garden centre.
A lovely gentle route down the other side of the Skirrid.
We think someone was spreading a rumour that Men’s Health Magazine were out scouting for models.
When in Wales, one has to have a selfie with the locals!

After conquering the 3 peaks we head down towards Abergavenny and it feels really weird. We are now on the tarmac; traffic in all directions, tourists and locals heading to the pub beer garden, families playing in the park on a gloriously beautiful day. The last few miles are always the hardest and every time you think its just around the corner, there’s another mile marker achieved. You know you are close, your body hopes you are close too!

Despite feeling spent, we have had the most amazing day on these 3 peaks and we are already promising a return journey in the Summer months. Big thanks to Stu for the navigation skills and for looking after us. Our trail runs are organised with Lliswerry Runners almost every Sunday (race calendar permitting) and they are open to all disciplines. We will try to accommodate shorter trails once a month too so if you fancy giving it a go, just turn up!

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