No one knows about this place.
That’s what makes it so great. It’s a walker’s dream, a runner’s paradise and damn fun for cycling, too.
It’s quiet, enjoyed only by the local people.
Sat high above Hay-on-Wye in mid-Wales, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend morning, strolling over the rounded green hills of the Begwns. Most visitor’s head for the Black Mountains – specifically Hay Bluff. So, there are no tourists in sight. Instead you get a fabulous view of the Black Mountains. If you’re visiting the area, you can still be sure to drop by Hay for coffee and cake post walk, before perusing the many bookshops that line the streets. I’ve spent many wonderful mornings, afternoons and evening up on the Begwns: running, exploring, or just admiring the views.
Sat at the highest point of the walk is the Roundabout. It’s a walled ring of trees – an odd sight, high on a hill. It intrigues most people who come across it. Within the wall, there’s a small plantation of fir trees and a huge crescent shaped stone seat for walkers to have their picnic or rest on before their return trip. Random as it may seem, the reason this exists is because the De Winton family (who owned the land before the National Trust) originally built this wall in 1887 with the aim of protecting the trees up there which had been planted to honor Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Livestock have a habit of destroying trees and vegetation alike, so they needed protecting.
Although marked on the map as open access land, the area looks to be so small that not many tend to bother venturing up there. It’s about 3 miles by 1 mile so is a reasonably small area. Don’t be fooled by that tiny dot of land on the map though. It’s feels bigger than it looks and is a lovely way to spend a few hours. Although it’s quite low at only 415m above sea level at its highest point, as mentioned, it has the most fantastic views of the surrounding area, which includes looking out over to the Black Mountains and, on a clear day, the Brecon Beacons. It’s made up of small rolling hills; perfect for walking, running, cycling and horse riding alike. I’ve been up there many a time doing each.
It’s another favourite place of mine to take my friends when they visit. I’ll often take them walking up there but one of my favourite cycling routes travels over it too. More often than not though, it’s perfect for a morning walk. It only takes a couple of hours to do a five mile hike up to the Roundabout, over and around in a lovely circular walk.
Getting outside is really very easy. As this little walk has shown, sometimes it is worth exploring the small corners on the map and making the effort to go and visit – you never know what kind of treat you may be in for.
This is the third instalment of my new series Explore More that I am putting together for documenting new things, going to a new place and generally showing the awesomeness of getting outdoors. Adventure is around every corner – you just need to look for it. It’s not necessary to go traveling to far flung countries; you can experience fun in the outdoors here in the UK.