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Sugar Loaf Walk Yesterday

Yesterday I went walking near Abergavenny in Wales. My goal was the summit of Sugar Loaf, north of town. On the way there I was seriously worried about not being able to walk because the fog was very thick. But the sun came out and burned away the worst of it. What was left was photogenic rather than dangerous, as you can see below.

I parked at Pen-yr-heol and walked down into the woods in St. Mary's Vale. This is the view that greeted me as I entered the woodlands.
Beech wood
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Forest stream in aforestwhisper
Close-up of forest stream in waterflow

Climbing up again on the other side, the woodland had changed to mostly oak. These are probably sessile oak, Quercus petraea, rather than regular oak, Q. robur. They're known for growing on hillsides in Wales.
Oak woods
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Beeches on the hillside in iamthelorax

As I was cresting the ridge of Rholben, I got my first view of the goal of the walk, Sugar Loaf. As you can see, the cloud was quite low. The summit of Sugar Loaf is at 596m. That's about 2,000 feet in old money.
First view of Sugar Loaf
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At the end of the ridge, where the mountain starts, I looked back on the ridge I'd come from. This is where the fog is photogenic, rather than dangerous. There have been a few mountain rescues on Sugar Loaf but this hill isn't nearly as dangerous as Pen-y-Fan and Cribyn.
Looking back
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Looking in the direction I'm heading, the weather looks quite clear.
Sugar Loaf summit
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There was a raven, Corvux corax, circling the summit. It just flew round and round, cawing as it went. It was lovely to see. Apparently Wales has some of the highest densities of ravens in the world.
Raven circling Sugar Loaf summit
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Another regular denizen of hillsides -- sheep. I love how almost monochromatic this photo turned out.
Sheep among hillside heather
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Another look back at the ridge I came from, this time from a higher vantage point. You can see the path snaking its way through the heather. The sheep in the previous photo are visible in the distance on the left. The higher ridge on the left is called Deri on my Ordnance Survey map.
Looking back, again
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I made it! I'm up on the frosty summit, looking north-west. The ridge on the left is Mynydd Pen-y-fal, the one on the right is Blaen-yr-henbant. The summit that just pokes up through the clouds is probably Pen Cerrig-calch at 701m. It was very cold up there but I sat in lee of the trig point and had some chocolate before heading down again.
On the frosty summit, looking north-west
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I had approached Sugar Loaf from the south but I descended to the south-west. The plan was to turn south along the top of Mynydd Lllanwenarth. Here you see the same ridges and tops as from the previous photos but with the rocky-strewn side of Sugar Loaf in the foreground.
Looking north toward Pen-y-fal
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Rock and the ridge I came from in naturesbeauty

As I was looking back up toward the summit, the moon had risen above it.
Moonrise over Sugar Loaf
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Moon rise over Sugar Loaf with sheep in fourelements

It was getting late and the setting sun was colouring the red bracken on the side of the mountain.
Sugar Loaf at sunset
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Comments

I LOVED all of these. They each have their own feel, and I enjoyed joining you on your hike.

I've been planning to join a hiking group, but I keep putting it off for some reason. I think you've just given me the nudge I need.

~RP

P.S. Not to sound like a dork or anything, but the second photo, the sessile oak one, looks like the living forest in Lord of the Rings. Or even in the Wizard of Oz, come to think of it... :-)
Gah, those photos are so beautiful, they make me want to cry. I especially like the oak branches one and the forest stream. I so wish I was there right now.
Thanks Iolanthe. That's a lovely icon.