How to Do the Skirrid Fawr Walk, Wales
How to Do the Skirrid Fawr Walk, Wales

How to Do the Skirrid Fawr Walk, Wales

Like many a hike in South Wales, the Skirrid Fawr walk is a short and sweet up and down. At just 489 metres, it’s doable by almost all walkers, but its ease doesn’t take away from its beauty.

The trail takes you through lush green forest paths and along the distinctive Skirrid ridge line. Once you get up to the ridgeline, the views really open up. On a good day, you get panoramic scenes over beautiful countryside and onto the Sugarloaf.

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How long does it take to climb Skirrid Fawr?

It takes between 2 and 3 hours to walk the Skirrid depending on your fitness. The whole, circular walk starting from the carpark is 5 km.

How to get to the Skirrid Fawr

There are two ways to get to the Skirrid. Your first option is to drive, which is also the easiest. Conveniently, there’s a pay and display car park at the base of the hill — operated by the National Trust. The car park is just under an 8 km, 15-minute journey from Abergavenny, which is the nearest town.

Option two is to take a train, then bus and then walk. The nearest train station is in Abergavenny. For the bus, at the time of writing this, the X3 will take you roughly halfway from Abergavenny to the Skirrid. The remaining walk to the Skirrid car park is about 4 km.

tress forming what looks like a tunnel on the Skirrid Fawr walk.

The route

The Skirrid Fawr walk starts at the car park and does a large loop finishing up where you started.

Head to the left end of the carpark (if you’re looking at the Skirrid) and you’ll join a long, hedge lined stony path. The path brings you to a fence and gate. Go through the gate and you join the start of the Skirrid trail.

This section is really straightforward. Simply follow the trail up until you come to the stone wall with a gate in it. Although you won’t get lost, there’s a part of this section that does get a little steep, but it’s nothing major. There’s also a point where the trail is intersected by a dirt road. Keep going straight along the trial and upwards. Your surrounded by trees and leafy floor here.

Once you get to the stone wall, pass through the gate. Now you’ll have the option to go left or right. Both take you to the top of the Skirrid, but as we went right, I’ll explain that way.

This side of the stone wall, the trees are much bigger and a cool pale colour. In good light they’d make for some really nice nature photography. This part of the trail is also really flat but it does end with a short, steep and narrow incline.

The short, steep and narrow incline levels off, but the trial does become steeper from now on. This section of the trail curves up and around close to the edge of the Skirrid. There are a few openings in the trees that give you great views over the green Welsh countryside. These are also great spots for photos.

Eventually, you’ll come to a steep and narrow set of stone steps. After these, there’s a very short flat section, then the trail gets narrow, steep and a little tricky underfoot. Keep going through this section and the underfoot will smoothen out.

The terrain becomes much friendlier and you leave this section behind with views really opening up. Keep heading uphill and the trail becomes flatter again as you come past a wooden fence. Look left and you’ll see the sugarloaf in all its glory. The Sugarloaf hill is just shy of being classed as a mountain, but it still dominates the landscape.

A view of the Sugarloaf from the top of the Skirrid Fawr trail.

Keep heading along the trial. There’ll be another section that becomes slightly steeper, but again, it’s hardly challenging. The trail will eventually bring you directly to the trig point marking the top of the Skirrid Fawr walk. You may only be 489 metres up, but on a good day you’ll see for miles.

And that’s the Skirrid Fawr walk. It’s a great one to take nice and slowly. Likewise, it’s also a great one if you’re after a quick uphill climb.

Alan atop the Skirrid Fawr with countryside views in the background.

How hard is the Skirrid walk?

For the most part, the Skirrid walk is a relatively easy. Anyone with a moderate level of fitness should be able to do it. The hardest parts of the Skirrid are the steeper section between getting off the initial stone path (from the car park) and coming to the gate in the stone wall, and the steep, narrow section between the stone steps and getting to the start of the ridgeline.  

When to do the Skirrid walk

The Skirrid is best enjoyed on a sunny and ideally non-weekend day. I did it with a friend on a bright spring weekend morning. The weather was great and so were the views. However, if you like your trails quiet, then try to avoid the Skirrid on weekends. Being really accessible by car and an easier walk means it gets busy.

What does ‘Skirrid Fawr ‘mean in English?

‘Skirrid’ is in fact an English word. The real name is entirely Welsh and is Ysgyryd Fawr. ‘Ysgyryd’ means ‘split’ or ‘shattered’ and Fawr means ‘big’. The hill gets its name from its distinct appearance.  

More walking and hiking guides for Wales

Looking for more exciting hike and walks in Wales? Then check out the articles below. And you’ll find all of my travel advice and inspiration on the A World Over blog.

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