Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

Our Cwmcarn to Afan Argoed Epic (April 08 Issue) offered a tantalising glimpse of the superb natural singletrack that streaks across the north face of the Blorenge, above Abergavenny, linking the historic Keeper’s Pond with the tranquil Devil’s Punchbowl. It served its purpose as a climb on that trip, but we couldn’t leave it like that, so this little gem brings you said trail in reverse, proving, as we suspected, what a top-notch downhill it makes.
As a route, this is a one-up, one-down which, on the map at least, looks reasonably easy. But the map doesn’t tell the whole story, and with the exception of the opening leg, which follows well-surfaced cycle-paths around to the foot of mountain, and a very short road link that cuts across the top of Cwm Llanwenarth, you’ll be either climbing hard, or descending on technical singletrack the whole time.
The good news is that the climb is rideable: road to start with, and quick-drying limestone later on, so the hard work can be got out of the way with minimum fuss. Then, from Keeper’s Pond onwards, it’s time to start tuning that concentration; first on grass, dotted with the odd cluster of jagged stones that will catch you out if you start sleeping, and then on a rock-strewn ribbon barely wide enough to take a front wheel.
The top is the tough bit, and only the elite will file a clean score sheet here; but as it levels, it gets better and better, eventually climaxing in a short, sweet traverse right beneath the mountain’s imposing north-east face. There’s a short up from the Punchbowl — too steep and rooty to ride really — and then another rock-strewn lane to wrap it all up. This one requires a bit of gung-ho in places, so stay off the brakes if you can.