Adventures, Guides, Hike, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Thinking

The Abergavenny Three Peaks Trial

When you find out that your house is on the route of a classic local long distance walk it would be rude to not attempt it, even when it means committing yourself to a long, hard day of hiking.  What you don’t realise is that the process will change the way you look at the area you live in and redefine what you consider ‘local’…

They could be closer together…

The route we were following is commonly known as the South Wales Three Peaks Trial.  It explores the three mountains that surround Abergavenny, namely Sugarloaf, The Skirrid and The Blorenge.  Now none of these tops are huge, but they are well spread out and any route that takes in all three of them requires you to cover some distance, around 22 miles in fact.  So the challenge is not just climbing the mountains, but going the distance.

Abergavenny Three Peaks Route
Our route for the day, starting and finishing from home…

We were well prepared for such a long hike.  Ellie had recently completed the Brecon Beacons Hike for Race for Life, I had spent 5 days hiking in the Atlas Mountains, summiting Toubkal, plus we had both enjoyed some long days in the hills together in the fortnight before our attempt.  So it was with some confidence and well worn in kit that we left our house that morning.

Familiar, or is it?

From the moment that we left our driveway it seemed that we were looking at everything differently.  All through the day we’d encounter familiar streets, trails, paths and lanes but when they were viewed through the prism of our hike they became part of a bigger picture, a linked network of local walkways.  We found ourselves strangers in a community going about it’s normal business; the man walking his dog, the couple climbing Sugarloaf via the tourist route, the people shopping on the high street, the families eating outside a pub, all wondering what these two hikers with rucksacks and poles were up to.  It was surreal at times but allowed us to view our little slice of Wales with a new perspective.

Summit Selfie
The second of three summit selfies…

The walk itself is a joy.  Although it is necessary to walk on tarmac for maybe a quarter of the total distance, these sections are almost entirely on very quiet lanes and backroads where we encountered almost no vehicles.  Our overriding memories are of the long stretches of winding trials and open mountain ridges which provided us with wonderful 360 degree panoramas of our home valley.  The fact the route also takes you through Abergavenny is both interesting and practical.  We took a late lunch there and topped up on water which allowed us to travel lighter even though we were self supported, but equally revelled in walking through the town on a busy Saturday with rucksacks instead of shopping bags!

Redefining ‘local’…

As much as I want to encourage you to come visit South Wales and walk the Abergavenny Three Peaks Trial as we did, this is not the sole purpose of this post.  I would instead urge you to look for a similar walk in your area.  I realise not everybody is blessed with a trio of local mountains to climb, but there must be somewhere distant to walk to, a place you might have thought out of reach but that with a bit of planning, and a day stretching out ahead of you, can be reached on foot.  Perhaps a favourite pub for a Sunday lunch?  Or a little wild swim spot?  A particular park or viewpoint?  It is remarkable how much the process of walking your local pathways, back lanes, canal towpaths, bridleways and footpaths can change your perspective on where you live and your relationship with it.  We were left with a much better appreciation of our local area, an understanding of the connections within the landscape, and a confidence in our ability to traverse it on foot.  Now, when we need to get somewhere I think there’ll be fewer drives and a more walks, and that can only be a good thing.

Find you own equivalent to the Abergavenny Three Peaks, or come and enjoy our corner of the world, the choice is yours.  Whichever you choose, enjoy your adventure…

Looking out over our domain, including the two peaks we’d already climbed…
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