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Five best walks in Monmouth

By Ella Perryman

Located on the border between England and Wales, Monmouthshire is a county best known for its luscious landscapes of the Wye Valley and Black Mountains. It has been named the “food capital of Wales”, has a brilliant community of arts and crafts artisans and a whole host of amazing walk routes to boot. We select five of our favourite walks in the region: taking in historic sites, idyllic waterfalls and breath-taking views.

 

Sugar Loaf Mountain

The Sugar Loaf mountain dominates the skyline of Abergavenny, peering between the ridges of the Llanwenarth, Deri and Rholben hills. It is one of the highest peaks in the heart of the Black Mountains, standing at 596m high with panoramic views across South Wales, the Brecon Beacons, and south-west England.

The mountain offers a huge variety of walking routes for people of all ages and abilities. For a gentle but invigorating hike, head to the car park just off the A40 and follow the simple trail from the base up to the top. You’ll pass sheep and wild horses on the way, and be rewarded with gorgeous views for miles. For something longer, take the seven mile route from Abergavenney town centre close to the bus station and priory. From here, the path follows roads north of the town to Cantref and Llywyndu and up towards the summit. The circular route back descends to the west and then south to the lovely Mynydd Llanwenarth ridge for more beautiful views of the Usk Valley.

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Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales, dating right back to 1131. One of the best ways to enjoy the national icons is with a walk, taking in the ruins and magical ancient woodlands that surround it. 

The five mile loop not only takes in the abbey itself, but passes the Devil’s Pulpit rock formation and runs alongside the River Wye with its lush green valley sides . Make your way a few hundred metres up from Tintern to Abbey Mill following Offa’s Dyke walking path. From here, cross the bridge and continue walking until you come to a path signposted Devil’s Pulpit. This route is known as Offa’s Dyke Whilst the terrain gets a little steeper it’s not for too long and once you reach the top you will see perfect views up the valley and back over to the abbey. It’s lovely to perch on the rocks for a while, looking out at the views and feeling completely engulfed by nature. 

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Cleddon Falls Walk

The Wye Valley AONB is bordered between England and Wales, and Monmouth is a special place to enjoy the beautiful landscape and water. The river winds its way from Chepstow to Monmouth, Ross-on-Wye and up to Hay-on-Wye, and there are ample opportunities to experience it both on and off the water.

Some may enjoy taking to the water in a kayak or with a wild swim, whilst others prefer taking it slow – walking around the woodland or beside the valley, hearing birdsong and stopping for breath-taking views. The Cleddon Falls cascades towards the Wye via Llandogo, and are best enjoyed with a relatively gentle four mile walk. Begin at Whitestones car park and set off into the rich pine forest, passing three viewpoints before emerging out at farmland and reaching the falls. It’s a serene spot to while away the hours, we’d recommend taking a picnic and make a day of it!

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Piercefield Park

One of the best things about Monmouth walks is the variety of landscapes and routes that you can enjoy. Not only can view rolling hills and waterside views, but there are paths that take you through serene forests and past interesting rock formations. For more Monmouth walks that take iconic views of the Wye Valley, head to Piercefield Park.

The park, once home to a beautiful Grade II listed Georgian mansion, has a five-mile walking route through woodland, meadows and alongside the Wye. Starting in Chepstow, it also passes Giant’s Cave rock formation and Eagle’s Nest viewpoint – one of the best spots in the region. This is a fabulous day-long activity, best rewarded with a local ale and delicious home-cooked meal in one of the nearby pubs.

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The Cat’s Back

Part of the Black Mountains range, the Cat’s Back is a relatively easy walk up to the summit of Black Hill with far-reaching views of Monmouth and Herefordshire. The route, which is bordered between three regions, is two miles from the base car-park or five miles if you take in the whole circuit. It is one of the most glorious strolls in the region, whether or not you’re a veteran walker, especially when the skies are clear and the clouds are high.

Locally known as Crib Y Cath, this defiant hill rises out of the valley dividing the rivers Monnow and Olchon giving walkers a fantastic ridge walk up and onto the Plateau that the Black Mountains are renowned for. Views stretch out towards the Malvern’s and Clee Hills, so do make sure you take some time at the top to stop for photographs! The walk down is a little easier, or you can extend your route by following the top path for a further mile and a half to reach Hay Bluff. This hill is technically in Herefordshire, but still offers superb views of the local Monmouth area.

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