Web Logo

WYE

EXPLORER

Mountain Waters

The Black Mountains are to the West of Herefordshire and East of the Central Brecon Beacons in the National Park. Forming a 14 mile long whale back ridge they are home to numerous low valley, high hill farms and towns such as Abergavenny, Talgarth, Hay on Wye and Crickhowell.

The extensive mountains and plateaus give rise to a watershed that feeds the Wye via a myriad of brooks and rivers notably the Ennig, Honddu & Monnow the latter two featuring on this page.

Arising from within the heart of what's essentially the famous Hay Bluff the Honddu flows for some 17 miles adjacent to the Offa's Dyke trail before arriving at its confluence with the Monnow near Pandy, which then enters the Wye further downstream at Monmouth. It flows through the spectacular and secluded Vale of Ewyas connecting the Wye to yet more 'Mountain Waters'.

IMG_2067 (1024x576)

Honddu

Black Mountains & The Honddu

The Mountains are made up of red sandstone some 300 million years old. Built up as a result of alluvial sediments the colour red indicates the presence of Iron Oxide, which can appear Ultra illuminated in the sunlight. They add an energy to the landscape that is iridescent and dramatic.

Reaching a height of almost 3,000 feet via Waun Fach. this huge lump of stone and earth lay centrally within the range forming a boundary between England and Wales via Herefordshire. Here on the border and some 3.5 miles to the North/North East of Waun Fach you will find the popular Hay Bluff, which gives rise to the River Honddu.

Finding The Source

To find the river source you have to reach the heart of the Bluff by leaving established paths, which later meld into the Offas Dyke national trail. We're 800 meters 'South of the Bluff' trig point and have meandered heather, peat bog and elephant grass to peer down into the deep gullies that form the start of the river. It's a magnificent sight framed by Waun Fach in the distance and a large pine plantation in the foreground that establishes a clear barrier between the network of gullies that lay within the Bluff and the populated valley beyond. Indeed, many day trippers consider this part of the Bluff lifeless but this is where the water gathers and where the wild ponies and other mountain life shelter and ascend. It feels sacred!

The Gullies Meet

Establishing the source of the Honddu is flexible. Indeed, the whole of the inner Bluff gives rise to it. Numerous gullies meet at around 400 meters to form the river proper one of which comes....

from the Western slopes of Llech Y Lladron at 703M. Whatever the source water comes in from all directions and flows through the plantation where a series of waterfalls can be found unannounced to the world. This again, like many wet environments, is reminiscent of temperate woodland although pine. It's green, moss covered, wet and magical no matter the baron floor of the plantation itself.

All in all the start of the Honddu is a pleasure and exhilarating and we recommend you discover it for yourself for a great liquid sound abounds there amid the buzzards, sheep, pine and ponies.

Some quick facts include: The Black Mountains are a Dark Sky Reserve, the highest point in the mountains is Waun Fach at 811 meters almost 3,000 feet, Offas Dyke runs along the mountains Easterly side, a terminal moraine at Llanvihangel Crucorney changed the direction of the Honddu, Wales' oldest Alehouse exists at the Southerly end of the range, Llanthony Priory is set beside the river Honddu in the Vale of Ewyas, the priory has an outpost the Llanthony Secunda Priory in the city of Gloucester, Llanthony is home to the local country show, the Black Mountains and the Hay Bluff play host to the highest road pass in Wales - Gospel Pass, the Big Chill staged one of their first away from home events in the Black Mountains, the book On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin was inspired by the mountains, Black Hill on the Herefordshire side of the Black Mountains is the highest point in Southern England, Sculptor Eric Gill lived in the mountains, Presenter and gardener Monty Don has an Organic Farm in the mountains, Guardian Columnist, presenter and cyclist Rob Pen lives in the mountains, the SAS train here as well as in the central Beacons, the mountains also feed the River Usk that flows past the Southern part of the range, the mountains are home to Longtown Mountain Rescue and The American Warewolf in London was filmed at the base of Hay Bluff.

Moving Monnow

The River Monnow rises high up on Cefn Hill (486 meters), which sits adjacent to the famous Hay Bluff. Attracting hikers and Offas Dyke Trail walkers the bluff appears impressive as it looks upon Cefn Hill to its North East.

Imagine the Hay road not running between the two and it can be said that Cefn Hill (Map) is a part of the Black Mountain massif. The Plateau is open and expansive and makes up part of the Cefn Hill common that covers an area of 131 Ha.

Traditional grazing helps maintain the acid grassland whilst other grasses provide habitat for Wax Cap Fungi, which are declining in Europe. Cefn Hill is therefore an important reserve or conservation area.

The Monnow rises from all directions. As with any river it's not a given where it first emerges. The river channel begins near Craswall Priory and is fed by a series of gullies...

entering from the hill. It's another case of the source impressing itself upon you from Cefn Hill itself which is a buzz to walk for both the river and ts amazing views of the Black Mountains.

Other High Points

We've explored the Pumlumon Massif in the Cambrian Mountains and the Black Mountains here on this page and there are more amazing places to discover up there in the heart of Wales. Watch this space or visit the links provided.

Wandering past the Elan Valley, which supplies water to the Wye and Birmingham the river meanders by other notable watersheds namely the wetlands of Drygarn Fawr & Bryn Glas , the Begwyns and the Black Mountains prior to it slipping by into Herefordshire and then onto

Monmouthshire beyond where the famed Wye Gorges have attracted millions over the decades.

The relationship towns such as Rhayader, Builth, Hay, Hereford, Ross, Monmouth and Chepstow have with the high hills are not often well publicised but suffice to say without these high hills and valleys they would not exist. The high hills are fundamental in the settlement story.

Here is a list of some of those 500 meter plus high points that feed the Wye as it makes its way to the River Severn its final destination, which sustains the cities of Gloucester and Bristol before it flows into the Irish Sea. Note the names and how evocative they are. They are names put to environments that offer a distinct character and sound via their shape, form and indeed communities. Some are as follows:

Gwastedyn Hill Ryayader, Llandegley Rocks, Carn Gafellt, Pen Y Bwlch & Allt Goch - Elan Valley, Moelfryn & Carreg Lwyd - Upper Wye, Trembyd, Gwuanceste Hill, Cefne Hill, Red Hill, Twmpa, Rhos Dirion, Mork Hill and many more.

IMG_3873

Radnor Forest

A Surprise Wye Catchment

Mid Wales - The Edw River & valley

Afon Irfon - Cambrian Mountains

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.


Get Flash Player