Cycling Black Mountain, Wales.
Near the summit.
Black Mountain climb is in the eastern section of Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, established 1957 and achieving the status of International Dark Sky Reserve in February 2013. While much of the park is bare grassy pastures with Welsh mountain ponies and sheep, it is also known for its many remote reservoirs, waterfalls and caves, such as the 90 foot Henrhyd Waterfall and the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Cave (Brecon Beacons National Park).
Coming in at number 95 of Britain’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Black Mountain begins on the A4069, about one kilometer south of Pont Aber, Carmarthenshire County, southern Wales. The A4069 has a fair amount of traffic and is a narrow two-lane roadway along this segment. At six kilometers, our climb is of moderate length by GCC 100 standards, and has a mild average grade of 5.7%. There are no terribly challenging sections and the grade rarely exceeds 9%.
Begin this climb by riding up A4069 as you pass Heol Y Gelli Road.
Simon Warren ranks this climb as the fourth Most Epic in Wales.
First part of the climb along A4069 bordered by brush/trees.
This climb has a BIG Mountain feel for such a little road. I’d call it the Alps of Wales: long sweeping turns, gradient nothing above 8 or 9%, and spectacular views of the valley below. Cars pass by fast but friendly. There are lots of hiking trails and little paths you can explore if you like getting the bike dirty. This is so much bang for buck - a relatively mellow climb for about four miles from the creek bridge at the bottom and amazing views. Well worth doing if you are in the area.
The views along the way are generally obstructed by brush and trees for the first half of the climb, but open to rolling hills, grazing sheep, and distant views of farmlands for the second half of the climb.
Open views and grazing sheep along second half of climb.
Brief flat section and first of two giant hairpins at mile two.
Second giant hairpin at mile three.
Plaque near top of climb for a motorcyclist killed in freak accident
when startled sheep ran into roadway as he traveled at just 43 kph (about 27 mph).
Try a little off-road to your left at the top . . .
The Black Mountain abandoned quarries give the climb its name. There are several hiking trails at the top of the climb that access Herbert’s Quarry.
Long abandoned Herbert’s Quarry at the top of the climb.
Herbert’s Quarry is “a large area of abandoned limestone quarries in a stunning location on Black Mountain. The site has panoramic views over the Forest Fawr Geopark and the west part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Black Mountain Quarries are a time capsule of a very important aspect of Welsh industrial heritage. There are physical traces of lime exploitation spanning many hundreds of years with quarry workings, lime kilns, and spoil heaps from small scale local exploitation of the 1700s to large industrial use in the 20th century. As you explore the site, you are walking in the footsteps of many thousands of people whose hard work, sweat and drudgery shaped this landscape and left a rich industrial legacy” (Brecon Beacons - Black Mountain Quarries).