When it comes to epic scenery, it’s hard to beat the legendary Black Mountain Pass (A4069) in Wales. Up there with iconic driving routes like the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland, the North Coast 500 in the Scottish Highlands and Snake Pass in the Peak District, the A4069 is one of the most scenic road trips in Europe.
A car is by far the best way to explore Black Mountain Pass A4069 and discover everything this iconic route has to offer. Ready to buckle up? Read on for our complete guide to Black Mountain Pass and how to plan the perfect Welsh road trip.
The Black Mountain Pass route
Black Mountain Pass connects the charming market town of Llandovery in the north with the lively village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in the south. It winds through the western edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, also called Bannau Brycheiniog in Welsh.
The total length is 23 miles though this can increase if you throw in some side trips. At its highest point, the Black Mountain Pass A4069 route climbs to 493 metres above sea level. The road is completely paved and in great condition, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Which way to drive Black Mountain Pass?
There’s no right or wrong way to discover the Black Mountain Pass. Whether you drive from Llandovery to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen or vice versa, you’re in for jaw-dropping views. That said, many people prefer to travel along Black Mountain Pass A4069 from north to south.
How long to drive Black Mountain Pass A4069?
Without stops, it takes most people between 30 to 45 minutes to drive Black Mountain Pass. Though of course, we recommend pulling into all the viewpoints and taking your time.
What to expect on Black Mountain Pass
You’ll need to stay focussed as you cruise along Black Mountain Pass. Steep climbs, thrilling descents, hairpin bends and sheep straying onto the road are all on the cards as you explore the A4069. You might even encounter the occasional tractor. And of course, the views are stunning which can be distracting. We recommend pencilling in as many stops as possible to soak it all in and stay safe on the road.
There’s plenty of variety when it comes to views, despite the route being just over 20 miles long. Be amazed by sweeping valleys, lush green pastures, towering stone walls, rugged rocky outcrops, windswept moorlands and fast-flowing mountain rivers.
Safety on Black Mountain Pass A4069
Some of the most hair-raising sections feature sheer vertical drops and no guard rails, so keep your eyes on the road at all times. The Black Mountain Pass isn’t dangerous, but it is important to stay focussed and drive safely.
Pro tip: you’re almost guaranteed to encounter stray sheep when driving the A4069. While harmless, it’s best not to get out of the car and shoo them away. Instead, give your engine a gentle rev or wind down the windows and crank the radio. This should be enough to send them on their way without too much fuss.
Drive in the tracks of Top Gear
Black Mountain Pass has always been popular, but it enjoyed some serious publicity back in 2011 when it was featured in Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson hit the road in a sleek Mercedes Benz CLK Black Series. Like most visitors, he was impressed by the incredible views and challenging terrain.
Highlights on the Black Mountain Pass A4069
Now you know more about the Black Mountain Pass, let’s get stuck into the highlights and side trips.
Also known as Cuckoo Turn, this is one of the most thrilling hairpin bends on the Black Mountain Pass. Whichever way you choose to travel along the route, the views across the Tywi Valley are spectacular.
Carreg Cennen Castle
A short detour off the A4069 takes you to Carreg Cennen Castle, a 12th-century stronghold built by a powerful Welsh lord. The ruined castle is perched on a clifftop and commands stately views over the River Cennen and surrounding countryside.
Like Carreg Cennen, Dinefwr Castle watches over the Tywi Valley from a rocky hilltop. Crumbling stone walls tower over the grass-covered site and look like a scene from a Welsh storybook.
The tiny town of Llandeilo is well worth a visit when driving the Black Mountain Pass. It’s set on the River Towy and despite its rural location, offers some of the best shopping in South Wales. Stroll along the narrow streets and browse specialty boutiques housed in colourful shopfronts.
Close to the top of the pass is Herbert’s Quarry, an abandoned limestone mine that offers a glimpse of the region’s industrial past. As well as panoramic views, the quarry is dotted with historic limekilns.
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