Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons National Park
The circular Hay Bluff walk takes in the peaks of Hay Bluff & Twmpa as well as Gospel Pass, Wales’ highest road. Enjoy the rugged splendour of the northern extent of the Black Mountains, on this 5.65 mile hike
Hay Bluff Circular Walk
The Hay Bluff walk had been on my radar for a number of years before I finally got around to tackling it. Being tucked away in the northernmost corner of the Brecon Beacon Beacons National Park, there were always so many more peaks closer to home and therefore Hay Bluff was always put off for another time.
That time finally came on a cold and sunny November morning in 2021, when the peaks of Hay Bluff and Twmpa were finally added to our ever growing list of conquered summits in the Black Mountains.
Where is Hay Bluff?
Hay Bluff is located right at the northern edge of the Black Mountains in the north east corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park, approximately 5 miles south of Hay-on-Wye.
This Hay Bluff map highlights the two peaks covered on this hike – Hay Bluff and Twmpa (orange mountain symbols). The orange ‘P’ indicates the parking area.
Where is the Hay Bluff Walk Car Park?
There is a small free car park situated at the start point of the walk, a short distance to the north west of the Hay Bluff escarpment. The location is highlighted by the orange ‘P’ on this map (Grid Reference SO239373). The nearest Hay Bluff postcode is HR3 5RJ.
How to get to there?
Wherever you are coming from, the chances are that you will ultimately be approaching Hay Bluff via the A438 that runs to the north of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
You will leave the A438 in the village of Glasbury and join a succession of narrow country roads that will ultimately lead you for approximately 7 miles to the Hay Bluff Car park.
Owing to the lack of signage on these country roads, I strongly recommend using a sat nav to get you to your destination. Therefore, I simply entered ‘car park for Hay Bluff’ into Google maps on my phone. Nothing easier!
Hay Bluff Walk Description
Walk up Hay Bluff
From the car park, cross the road and head in a south easterly direction up the obvious path towards the peak directly ahead of you. After approximately 600 metres, the trail heads right and leads you up to the ridge, ascending gradually across the hill’s contours.
Upon reaching the ridge, take the clear path to your left and follow this for around 200 metres to the trig point indicating the 677 metres summit of Hay Bluff.
From here, take some time to enjoy the stunning views that surround you. To the north you have the Wye Valley; the distant peaks of the Brecon Beacons to the south west and the distinctive flat-topped summit of Waun Fach to the south.
Off to Peak #2: Twmpa
From the summit of Hay Bluff, retrace your steps to the edge of the escarpment but this time continue along the path that hugs the ridge’s edge, in a south westerly direction.
After approximately 1.7 km, you will reach Gospel Pass, the small country road that runs through the valley separating Hay Bluff and Twmpa.
Did you know? Gospel Pass is the highest road pass in Wales and it also featured in the opening scenes of the film “An American Werewolf In London“
Upon reaching Gospel Pass, cross the road and continue up the grassy trail directly ahead of you, soon becoming a gravel path as you continue along the gentle ascent.
In approximately 1.2 km you will arrive at the summit of Twmpa, marked by a fairly miserable stone cairn.
Twmpa (Lord Hereford’s knob in English) stands at 690 metres and offers more fantastic views worth savouring, especially the one back towards Hay Bluff.
Leave the summit of Twmpa in a south westerly direction on the gradually descending path that runs parallel and just a short distance from the edge of the escarpment. In around 660 metres, you will see a collection of rocks jutting out of the ridge on your right.
Immediately before these, the trail switches back to the right and heads in a northerly direction, gradually descending across the face of the escarpment.
Further down and maintaining a northerly track, follow the grassy trail as it passes among the ferns that carpet large areas of the hillside.
Having covered approximately 415 metres from the top of the ridge, you will intercept a clearer trail.
Follow this, in a northeasterly, then south easterly direction for a further 930 metres, when you will join a small country road.
Turn right and follow this for around 2.2 km back to the car park.
Hay Bluff Walk – Our Thoughts
If you like nice exposed ridge walks, with some cracking views, the Hay Bluff walk may be just what you are looking for.
After the slightly challenging ascent to the summit of Hay Bluff, it is pretty much a breeze from there on in. Pick yourself a good weather day and you will be blessed with wonderful views, especially off to the west and south west.
The descent down Twmpa’s escarpment can be a little boggy in places, as can sections of the trail before you join the small country road on the return section of the walk.
I did find on the descent from Twmpa that the trail was not always that clear. This is where I found the OutdoorActive hiking app incredibly useful as I simply followed the trail guidelines ensuring that I was precisely where I should be.
Hay Bluff Walk – Q & As
How long does the walk take?
This walk took me 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete. I only took a couple of very short breaks so allow up to 3.5 hours if you are looking for a slightly more leisurely walk.
How far is the walk described here?
5.65 miles (9.1 km)
How long does it take to walk up Bay Bluff?
From the Hay Bluff car park to the summit trig point is 1.2 km and should take no more than 20-30 minutes.
How difficult is the walk?
I would class the Hay Bluff circular route as a moderately difficult walk.
Are there other routes up Bay Bluff?
In addition to the route described here, there are other routes up Hay Bluff too. You could extend the Black Hill walk to incorporate the summit of Hay Bluff adding 5.8 km to the hike length.
Also, if you are undertaking the long distance Offa’s Dyke Path, you could add in the Hay Bluff summit with a 685 metre diversion.
Have you experienced the Hay Bluff walk?
If you have, please share your experience with us and our readers. If you have any questions that we have not answered here, please let us know and we will get back to you just as quickly as we can.
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