Black Mountains, Herefordshire
The circular Black Hill walk leads you along the spine of this narrow mountain ridge affording you superb views across the Herefordshire countryside and the Black Mountains of Wales. Return via the colourful and serene Olchon Valley on this delightful 7.9 km hike
Black Hill Walk Herefordshire
It was in March 2019 that we discovered Black Hill for the first time, while researching our next hike online. We were instantly struck by the beauty of the location and the wonderful views on offer to both east and west from the mountain ridge.
We checked the weather forecast and picked what appeared to be a perfect weather day, only to arrive at the location to find the hill shrouded in thick fog.
Although we made it to the summit of Black Hill, we could barely see the ground 30 metres ahead of us, let alone the wonderful views that lay beyond the white curtain.
Did you know? The Black Hill walk is often referred to as the Cat’s Back walk, as the hill resembles a crouching cat ready to pounce, when viewed from the east.
In August 2021, it was time to revisit Herefordshire and have another crack at the Black Hill Walk. Another great weather day was forecast, yet good old fog greeted me once more! This time, I delayed the start of the walk and thankfully, the fog lifted!
Where is Black Hill?
How to Get There?
The chances are that you will be approaching via the A465 from either the north or south. You need to turn off in the hamlet of Pandy, alongside the Old Pandy Inn. From this point, you have approximately 8 miles (12.87 km) to your destination along predominantly single track country roads.
Where to Park?
There is a small dedicated car park right at the start point of the Black Hill walk. If you arrive early i.e. around 08:00, the chances are that you will be the only car there as was the case on our 2 visits.
There is room for approximately 6 cars but if it is full, there are a couple of areas where you can pull off the road, a short distance back down the hill.
In terms of finding the car park, I would head to Google Maps on your phone, enter ‘Black Hill Car Park’, ensuring that you select the ‘Upper House Farm, Hereford’ option and allow technology to lead you to your location.
Black Hill Walk – Step by Step
From the car park, cross over the wooden stile to the left of the metal gate and commence the fairly steep but short climb up the grassy ridge directly ahead of you.
Once this is behind you, the ascent is gentle as you progress along the narrow ridge dotted with rocky sandstone outcrops.
For those of you who have also walked the Skirrid, you will certainly spot some similarities between these two mountains!
It is along this section when you will be grateful that you visited on a good weather day! Off to your left (west) is the lush Olchon Valley, interspersed with trees and woodland, rising to the imposing ridge of the Black Mountains along the Welsh border.
To your right (east), you will enjoy wide-ranging views across the countryside of Herefordshire.
As you continue, the narrow ridge broadens and the rocky crest is replaced by a carpet of beautiful dense purple heather (well, it was in August!).
Black Hill Summit
After walking for approximately 2.5 km you will reach the trig point indicating the 640 metre summit of Black Hill.
Owing to the general flatness of the location, you would have little idea that you had reached the summit were it not for the trig point.
You now get to enjoy northerly views towards the Wye Valley as well as the Malvern Hills off to the north east.
Upon leaving the summit, take the obvious path that runs to the left of the small pond and continue in a northwesterly direction along this flat section of the trail.
In around 1.3 km, you will reach a stone marker at which point you turn sharply to the left and commence the return portion of the Black Hill Walk via the Olchon Valley.
The marker indicating this point is little more than a handful of stones which can easily be missed.
Therefore, my advice would be to have a hiking App, such as Outdooractive on your phone as this clearly shows the point at which the trail turns.
Initially, the bridleway descends gently amongst the heather to the head of the valley. At this point, you will find yourself immediately to the left of the Olchon Brook, enjoying commanding views down the full length of the valley.
A rocky path leads you steeply into the valley, soon returning to grass underfoot as the trail’s descent becomes more sedate.
Now, just enjoy the beauty of the idyllic Olchon Valley, blanketed by a myriad of colourful ferns and heather, flanked by the soaring valley sides.
You do not deviate from this trail which firstly runs alongside a fence to your right and then through a wooden gate/stile.
Shortly, the bridleway meets a small country road where you continue straight ahead.
In approximately 1.8 km, take a left turn and follow this road uphill, soon arriving back at the car park where you commenced the Black Hill walk.
Black Hill Walk – Our Thoughts
This walk is all about the views! Pick yourself a decent day and you will be spoilt with super vistas both from the mountain ridge and the Olchon Valley.
If you want to grab yourself a parking spot in the small car park, especially on weekends / holidays, make sure you arrive early!
Black Hill Walk Q & As
How long is the Black Hill circular walk?
4.91 miles (7.9 km)
How long did this walk take?
The Black Hill circular walk described here took 2.5 hours.
How difficult is the walk?
I would class this as a fairly easy walk
Have you completed the Black Hill walk?
If so, kindly share your opinions in the comment box below.
Are you planning on experiencing the Black Hill walk and have some questions? If so, please also drop them into the comment box and we will get back to you as quickly as possible…