Alternative Brecon Beacons   1 comment

This is a walk I’ve had my eye on for a while so with a forecast of warm sunshine and the rest of the family otherwise engaged I headed out early to make the most of the day. The route is over some lesser known hills in the Brecon Beacons. It’s part of the Fforest Fawr (Great Forest) named after its old status as a Royal Hunting ground rather than any trees. The walk starts a couple of miles down from the Storey Arms (where the masses park for the trek up to Pen-y-Fan) and sets out for the national nature reserve of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad (Blue Stone Rock).

It’s a stunning setting with dark heathery earthy cliffs dropping to a grassy bowl with a number of bubbling streams.

Taking a path that skirts the edge of the lower pastures to reach the ridge and then the path heads up towards the grassy plateau that crowns the cliffs.

The views were a little hazier than I had hoped and there was a surprisingly strong, cool breeze but it was still a lovely morning.

The main summits of the Beacons as well visited and on sunny summer days I’ve seen as many as 150 people on the summit of Pen-y-Fan. On this lesser known route I saw only about 10 people for the duration of the walk. The “summit” Trig Pillar (Fan Frynych) is set back from the edge and I’d hoped for a brief rest on the top but it was far too windy and cold so I pressed on. There are numerous smalll bodies of water all of which were full of frogspawn but no frogs or even tadpoles yet. I guess spring is still in its very earliest stages at this height.

You can take the path that runs right along the edge of the cliffs for some sensational views and the main summits of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du were becoming clearer as the sun rose higher.

At the highest point of the cliffs I managed to find a sheltered spot out of the wind for a leisurely lunch and to sit and soak up the spring weather and views.

After a brief detour along the edge to peer down the vegetated cliffs I hopped over the Fence and headed towards Fan Fawr, the highest point. It’s quite a long trek and I guess pretty boggy after a wet spell. It would be a long and tiresome trudge on a grey damp day but on this sunny morning the springy grass and moss was just perfect for strolling. The views West out to the Black Mountain were excellent and some of the hills between also looked worthy of a day out in future. I suspect they are rarely climbed so I’d like to think I’d have them to myself.

It’s a pretty steep climb to the top but the views in all directions were top notch albeit still hazy. When I reached the top the wind was strong enough to blow me off my walking stride which really caught me by surprise for what looked like a day that should be warm and calm. I headed down towards the Storey Arms and managed to find another sheltered stop for second lunch and watch the traffic streaming along the A470 and the people streaming up and down Pen-y-Fan.

On the way down I passed a group of students dressed in DJs and carrying chairs and food for a picnic. If they planning on partying on the summit they were in for a nasty shock when the wind hit them!

I passed a group of wild welsh ponies on my down and then quickly passed by the mess, noise and cars at Storey Arms and headed down the Taff Trail – the old road between Merthyr and Brecon. Despite the noise of the traffic on the A470 it’s a really pleasant stroll with great views across to the high ground I’d been across earlier in the day.

A drop down to the stream (a lovely picnic spot with swimming hole for future reference) and a steep climb back up to the road and I was back at the car.

My GPS software said 8.3 miles and 514m of ascent. Apart from feeling a little cautious on the steep sections my knee seemed to cope pretty well and sitting at home now it feels fine so I’m really hopeful that the Op has been a success and that I can continue building up the strength over the next few weeks. Probably about time I started with my daily exercise routine again!

As always I’ve posted all the photos from the day on Flickr here


One response to “Alternative Brecon Beacons

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  1. Glad to hear that your knee held up well. Looks like a grand day out. Only two lunch stops? It MUST have been cold.



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