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Blorenge from Abergavenny
Elevation 561 m (1,841 ft)
Prominence 134 m (440 ft)
Parent peak Coity Mountain
Listing Dewey, HuMP
Location Monmouthshire, Wales
Range Brecon Beacons
OS grid SO269118
Topo map OS Landranger 161
View from a point near the summit of Blorenge

Blorenge[1] or sometimes The Blorenge (; Welsh: Blorens) is a prominent hill which overlooks the valley of the River Usk in Monmouthshire, southeast Wales. It is situated in the southeastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The summit plateau reaches a height of 1,841 feet (561 m).


  • Geography 1
  • Geology 2
  • Protected areas 3
  • Access 4
  • Recreation 5
  • Industrial heritage 6
  • Etymology 7
  • Blorenge in popular culture 8
  • The Tumble 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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 & Brecon Canal. It drops away steeply to the northwest 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.[2]

Protected areas

Blorenge is situated within both the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape 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, Wales. 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.[3][4]

The SE Wales Hang Gliding & Paragliding Club's members regularly take off from the summit which is now 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 in the local brewery in Abergavenny.

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 .[5] 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.[6]

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 the few words in the English language which is a perfect rhyme for "orange."[7][8]

The Tumble

The summit of 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" ("Y Tymbol"), which reaches an elevation of 482 m (1,581 ft) close to Keepers Pond (Pen-ffordd-goch)[9] (at ). The climb is regularly featured in cycle races[10] and is listed as one of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Britain.[11] The signs at the summit indicate incorrectly that the elevation is 512 m (1,680 ft).[12]

From Govilon, the climb is 4.1 km (2.5 mi) long, gaining 347 m (1,138 ft) in altitude, at an average gradient of 9.0%.[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]


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Explorer map sheet OL13 Brecon Beacons National Park: eastern area
  2. ^ British Geological Survey 50K Map sheet 232 'Abergavenny' & accompanying memoir
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ "Blorenge Tramroad".  
  6. ^ Owen, H.W. & Morgan, R. 2007 Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales, Gomer Press, Ceredigion
  7. ^ """Does anything rhyme with "orange?. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Lloyd,, John; Mitchinson, John (2010). "What Rhymes With Orange?". QI: The Book of General Ignorance - The Noticeably Stouter Edition. Faber & Faber. p. 432.  
  9. ^ "The Keeper's Pond". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "When the British Cycling National Road Championships came to town". Beacon Park Boats. 5 July 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Warren, Simon (2013). "Chapter 97". 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs: A Road Cyclist's Guide to Britain's Hills. Frances Lincoln.  
  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. 

External links

  • Blorenge web cam
  • The Blorenge Walking
  • A Gallery of the Blorenge
  • South East Wales Hang-Gliding & Para-Gliding Club guide to the Blorenge
  • : photos of the Blorenge
  • The Tumble climb on the climbbybike website
  • Critique of The Tumble climb

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