Sugarloafs and not a calorie consumed

The weather at the weekend shouted out that Aunty and me had to go out and climb a hill. The weather was that good. Not far from us is a great little hill called The Sugarloaf. Why? Well it apparently looks like a sugarloaf. Though very few people today have ever seen a sugarloaf, let alone climbed one. I have been reliably informed by others older than me that sugar used to be delivered to the shops in a great big lump. You then bought your sugar in smaller lumps broken off the big lump, paying by weight. Now the big lump looked like, well a sugarloaf! Still with me? Then you’re doing better then me. But what the hell, let’s get onto the views.

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The Sugarloaf is the most easterly summit of any real note of the Black Mountains. At only 596 m (1,955 ft) it can’t claim to be a difficult or challenging walk, but it is still worth it.

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Like the Breacon Beacons to the west the Sugarloaf is made up of Old Red Sandstone which was laid down during the early Devonian Period. Its lower slopes (up to around 1,000 feet (300 m) are composed of mudstones and sandstones assigned to the Senni Formation whilst its upper reaches are composed of the more sandstone-rich sequence known as the Brownstones Formation.

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The last section of the climb does made you blow a little though, but the views on the day like were well worth it. To the east it’s possible to see the highest peaks of the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu. Today though there was a great cloud inversion, and the peaks were just peeking through.

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Right at the summit someone had placed a remembrance cross as part of Armistice Day, a fantastic place for such an iconic emblem. Providing an opportunity for reflection.

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The autumn has been so mild here in the Uk this year that there were mushrooms growing within 10 feet of the highest point. Now I’m no good at mushrooms, and so I can’t give you a name to these, but if anyone reading this knows, then please let me know.

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As we sat at the top drinking our coffee we had unrivalled views of the surrounding valleys.

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It is tempting to think that graffiti is a modern problem associated with the past 40 years or so. But it never ceases to amaze me where graffiti pops up. I’ve seen is on the pyramids when Napoleons army were there, and it’s not uncommon it see it at the top of hills. The Sugar Loaf is no exception. The soft rocks on the summit were covered in carvings dating back over a hundred years ago.

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In a way nature also leaves its own graffiti on the rocks everywhere. In this case the culprits a lichens. These simple colonies of algae and bacteria co-existing in the most exposed and extreme of environments amaze me. Science is also beginning to understand thre symbiotic relationships and how they might be able to be used in the development of new drugs. Again, I’m no good at identifying lichens, so if anyone is able to help. Great.

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