Walking

South Wales Three Peak Trial

An organised challenge arranged by the Cardiff Outdoor Group, the South West Three Peaks Trial originally started in March 1963. Aimed at encouraging less experienced walkers to enjoy the beautiful Welsh landscapes and test their own powers of endurance and map reading skills, it has grown in popularity each year. The third oldest such event in the UK, it draws new competitors each year as well as familiar faces.

Kicking off in Abergavenny town early in the morning, the Three Peak Trial takes walkers of all ages above 12 years old out into the fantastic Brecon Beacons National Park. Originally one designated route, there are now four different trails to choose from, including the platinum, gold, silver and bronze. With each challenge varying slightly in course and difficulty, they range from the easiest at 10 miles long with 2000ft of ascent, to the hardest at 17 miles long with 5000ft of ascent.

Although not the most difficult walk, the gold route is the original challenge and includes 20 miles and 5000ft of ascent. Slightly less steep and easier to navigate than the platinum route, the gold trail covers three major peaks around Abergavenny: Blorenge, Sugar Loaf and Skirrid. Along the route, competitors are required to visit checkpoints (each of which ‘closes’ at a certain time) and sign in before continuing again. Finishing at 7.30 in the evening, successful entrants are rewarded with a certificate and some well-deserved refreshments.

Often blurring and disappearing into no obvious pathways, the routes of the Three Peak Trial definitely don’t make it easy for competitors and very much test their endurance, stamina and ability to think under pressure. Each having to carry their own equipment including emergency supplies, walkers experience humble reminders of not only the vastness of the Brecon Beacons National Park but the sometimes-unforgiving realities of Mother Nature.

Challenging as it may be though, the journey along the route certainly makes up for it in sheer natural beauty. Twisting and turning through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the UK, the South West Three Peaks Trial takes competitors on a whirlwind adventure, prizing them with unmissable views of sweeping vistas and sun-kissed crags. Upon finishing the walk, the sense of achievement is palpable and it’s no wonder people come back year after year to experience the thrill all over again.   

If you would like to take part, get in touch with the Cardiff Outdoor Group. A small fee is applicable, and all the money raised is split between the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team, the National Trust, the owners of Sugar Loaf and Skirrid Fawr for footpath maintenance, as well as at least one other charity. If you would like to, you can also raise money for a charity of your own choice.

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