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Blorenge from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire - - 84043.jpg
Blorenge from Abergavenny
Range: Brecon Beacons
Summit: 1,841 ft SO269118
51°48’0"N, 3°3’41"W
View from a point near the summit of Blorenge

Blorenge or The Blorenge is a prominent hill overlooking the valley of the River Usk in Monmouthshire. It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The summit plateau reaches a height of 1,841 ft.


Blorenge overlooks the market town of Abergavenny and the villages of Llanfoist and Govilon in the Usk Valley to the north. At the foot of the mountain lies the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. It drops away steeply to the north-west into Cwm Llanwenarth. To the south, gentler slopes fall away to Blaenavon at the head of the Lwyd valley. Prominent peaks seen from the Blorenge include the Skirrid to the east of Abergavenny and the Sugar Loaf to the north.


Blorenge is composed in layer-cake fashion of a number of different rock types. Its lower slopes are formed from the sandstones and mudstones deposited during the Devonian period and known collectively as the Old Red Sandstone. Its higher reaches are formed from a suite of mudstones, limestones and sandstones of Carboniferous age. The summit plateau is formed from coarse sandstones that lie at the boundary of the Millstone Grit and the Coal Measures. All of these beds tilt south-westwards into the South Wales Coalfield basin.

The shape of the hill was modified during the ice ages as the Usk Valley glacier flowed past it to its north. A small glacier nourished by windblown snow from the plateau excavated the hollow on the eastern side of Blorenge which is known as The Punchbowl. Cwm Craf on the hill's north-eastern slopes has a cirque-like form though probably never harboured a full-grown glacier.[1]

Protected areas

Blorenge is situated within both the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a World Heritage Site. Much of the hill has also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest principally for its heather moorland which is important for breeding red grouse. The Punchbowl is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust as a nature reserve.


Most of the hill is open access for walkers and there are a number of footpaths and bridleways which run to and over it. There is a hillwalking trail that runs around Blorenge and is a very popular destination for tourists and walkers alike. The ascent on foot to the summit from Llanfoist / Abergavenny via Cwm Craf is very steep but the effort is repaid by the panoramic views from the summit across the valley of the River Usk to Abergavenny and the Black Mountains. Easier access both to the summit and the northern edge of the plateau can be had from the Foxhunter car park.


Plaque marking the grave of Foxhunter

Most visitors are walkers and sightseers. Some come to see the grave of Sir Harry Llewellyn's famous showjumping horse, Foxhunter, who won Britain's only Gold medal in the 1952 Summer Olympics. Foxhunter is buried near to the Blaenavon to Llanover road on Blorenge. A car park here is named in his honour.[2][3]

The SE Wales Hang Gliding & Paragliding Club's members regularly take off from the summit, The whole 998 acres of the upper part is owned by the club. Paragliders performing 'top to bottom' flights land in Castle Meadows beside the River Usk at Abergavenny.

Every November a 'category A' fell race takes place on the mountain starting and finishing at St Faith's Church at Llanfoist. The race route passes under the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

There is also a Great Taste Award-winning pale ale named after this hill and produced not far away in Llanhilleth.

Industrial heritage

The remains of a tramway, built about 1796, linking a limestone quarry on the north side of the mountain with the ironworks at Blaenavon can be seen near 51°48’25"N, 3°3’36"W.[4] Hill's Tramroad extends around the western flanks of the hill and drops steeply down to Llanfoist by means of a series of inclines beneath Cwm Craf. There are extensive abandoned workings for limestone around the northern and eastern rim of Blorenge.


The name is problematic. It has been suggested that it may derive from the Welsh 'plor' ('pimple') and relating to Middle English 'blure' ('blister') or else from 'blawr ais' ('grey ribbed') but neither explanation is wholly satisfactory.[5]

Blorenge in popular culture

Blorenge is believed to be a source of inspiration for Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander's hymn "All Things Bright And Beautiful". The fourth verse starts "The purple headed mountain, the river running by". "The purple headed mountain" is believed to be Blorenge, "The river running by" the Usk beneath.

"Blorenge" is one of very few words in the English language which is a perfect rhyme for "orange."[6][7]

The Tumble

The western edge of Blorenge is crossed by the B4246 road between Llanfoist and Blaenavon which passes over the climb known as "The Tumble", which reaches an elevation of 1,581 ft close to Keepers Pond[8] (at 51°47’19"N, 3°4’57"W). The climb is regularly featured in cycle races,[9] and has hosted the finish of the final stage of the Junior Tour of Wales since 1989.[10] It is listed as one of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Britain.[11] The signs at the summit indicate incorrectly that the elevation is 1,680 ft.[12]

From Govilon, the climb is 2½ miles long, gaining 1,139 ft in altitude, at an average gradient of 9%.[13] Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour of Britain finished at the summit on 9 September 2014, when the stage winner was the Italian rider, Edoardo Zardini.[14]


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Blorenge)
  1. British Geological Survey 50K Map sheet 232 'Abergavenny' & accompanying memoir
  2. "A trip to Blorenge at Abergavenny from Hereford" (Directions for a scenic walk. Photo of the sign: FOXHUNTER Car Park | Maes Parcio). Goherefordshire. Retrieved 8 March 2014. "The path should be fairly obvious from the car park as it is well worn, and there are usually some other people around who look as though they know where they are going. Look out for the Foxhunter memorial as you leave the car park." 
  3. "A walk up the Blorenge mountain". Abergavenny: Gateway to Wales. Retrieved 8 March 2014. "Foxhunter car park In 1952, Sir Harry Llewellyn rode Foxhunter to take Gold in the Helsinki Olympic. The remains of the horse are buried near the car park, with a small memorial dedicated to him. Sir Harry Llewellyn himself died at the age of 88 in November 1999, at his home in Abergavenny. His ashes were scattered over the Blorenge mountain." 
  4. "Blorenge Tramroad". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  5. Owen, H.W. & Morgan, R. 2007 Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales, Gomer Press, Ceredigion
  6. "Does anything rhyme with "orange?"". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  7. Lloyd,, John; Mitchinson, John (2010). "What Rhymes With Orange?". QI: The Book of General Ignorance - The Noticeably Stouter Edition. Faber & Faber. p. 432. ISBN 0571273785. 
  8. "The Keeper's Pond". Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. "When the British Cycling National Road Championships came to town". Beacon Park Boats. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  10. Marshall-Bell, Chris (21 October 2017). "Mining for talent: How the Junior Tour of Wales uncovers the next generation of stars". Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  11. Warren, Simon (2013). "Chapter 97". 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs: A Road Cyclist's Guide to Britain's Hills. Frances Lincoln. ISBN 178101017X. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  12. "The Tumble, Abergavenny". Tour of Britain. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  13. "The Tumble Climb". Strava. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  14. Wynn, Nigel (9 September 2014). "Edoardo Zardini wins on the Tumble to take Tour of Britain lead". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 12 September 2014.