I had entered the Trial some time ago, as a training walk for my forthcoming challenge, Race to the Stones. Unfortunately, a good friend died last weekend from cancer, so I decided to walk in his memory and raise money for our local hospice, St David’s Foundation. The care that they provided for Dick was excellent and they rely on donations to continue provide high quality care. Twenty miles and 5000 feet ascent, in superb weather. We started from Llanthony Abbey and steeply ascended to our first check point Bal Mawr at 607m. The next checkpoint was Pen Cerrig-calch [701m], with 2 valleys and a mountain in between! Steep. Our descent from Bal Mawr was off piste over heather and bog. We hit the Grwyne Fawr valley at Pont Cadwgan and navigated our way through forestry tracks to Dysgwylfa, next stop Crug Mawr at 550m. We came across some boundary stones with whoops of joy! More from Mrs Macnamara [please see previous blog on Macnamara’s Road]. These stones were laid by Mrs Macnamara after the death of her drunken, lecherous husband John, a member of the Hellfire Club of the 19th century. They marked the boundaries of the Llangoed Estate. Next trig point, Crug Mawr, second summit nailed, bitter sweet…our last summit in the distance, the Sugar Loaf [596m]. Proof! So, to my companion, partner in crime, Julie Bell, her current mission is to “plank” every trig point on the Black Mountains, here is number one 🙂 We march on, to the Grwyne Fechan Valley, onwards and upwards to the next checkpoint, the enigma that is Pen Cerrig-calch. My feet were screaming, my knees howling and my Achilles tendons shouting expletives. We reached the trig to be met by the welcoming faces of Longtown Mountain Rescue Team, our guardians on the Black Mountains. They are brilliant volunteers, great girls and boys who rely on donations to continue their amazing work on and off the hills. Thanks. More proof… I will not bore you with the details of the descent from Pen Cerrig-calch, we had to stop at Llanbedr for lunch, coke and a sock change. I did this walk 2 years ago and have ruminated about the track from Llanbedr to the top of Pen y Fal [596m], the Sugar Loaf, since. With good reason. It is tough, steep, false summits…but when you reach the top you realise why the pain disappears so quickly. The views towards the Brecon Beacons and all of the Black Mountains are immense. Pen y Fal the last summit, a bevvy of the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team to greet us, hugs and kisses, final trig. The haze of the day lifted as we descended the Sugar Loaf, the late afternoon view of Pen y Fal changed completely, more wow moments… We arrived back in Abergavenny nine and a half hours after starting, in pain, knackered and really buzzing, brilliant! Looking forward to next year, happy.