The Skirrid

Skirrid Fawr as seen from the Deri ridge, Monmouthshire

Standing alone on the edge of the Black Mountains in Monmouthshire, the Skirrid, or the ‘Holy Mountain’, is a place rich in myths and legends.

Isolated from the main mountain range by the Gavenny Valley, the Skirrid rises dramatically out of the landscape, despite being smaller than its neighbours at 486m high.
 

What’s in a name?

The name ‘Skirrid’ is derived from the Welsh ‘Ysgyryd’, which means to shake or tremble. It’s easy to see where this name came from, with the massive landslide on the hill’s northern tip. The Skirrid is still prone to small mud flows and landslides today. The word ‘fawr’ translates as big or large.
 

The Holy Mountain

The Skirrid is also known locally as ‘the Holy Mountain’. This may have come from two sources. The first is the now-ruined chapel of St Michael’s right on the summit, which was used by Roman Catholics after the Reformation.
 
The second is the legend which tells how the dramatic landslide on the north of the mountain was caused by an earthquake or lightning strike at the moment Christ was crucified.
 

Take a walk

The Skirrid's isolation means glorious views in every direction: Herefordshire and the Mendips to the north, the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons to the west, Usk Valley and Somerset to the south and Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean to the east.
 
A new car park (charges apply) on the Abergavenny to Skenfrith road is the main access point onto the hill. From here, the path winds steeply up through Pant Skirrid Wood and out onto the ridge, with gentler slopes leading up to the summit.
 
Those wanting to really test themselves can scramble to the summit up the sheer north face of the mountain, while tracks through Pant Skirrid Wood offer a more relaxed pace.