Untrodden Brecon Beacons (for me)   5 comments

I was planning to go to Berwyns with a few friends on the Sunday and spend the Saturday at home festering in front of the TV while J and the kids are away. I woke early to a cloudless sky and with a very poor forecast for Sunday on my mind I decided I’d better head out and make the most of the day. One area I’ve never been to since I moved to the area was the SW of the Brecon Beacons near Tal y Bont . My route guides have a couple of walks in that area and one in particular combining new hills and ridges with waterfalls (I love waterfall walks) at the end around the Caerfanell valley so that ticked the boxes. The weather was still great as I set off and there are some lovely waterfalls right next to the car park and some stonking rest and picnic stops by the lower reaches of the river.

Waterfall near car park

From there it’s an unrelentingly steep climb to Craig y Fan Ddu with views to the south over the Welsh valleys and as far as the Somerset and North Devon coast opening up.

Looking towards the Welsh Valleys

Looking towards the Vale of Neath

From the top of the climb the walk levels out along the edge of steep sandstone escarpment which typifies much of the Brecon Beacons. This one, unlike the flesh pot of Pen y Fan was nearly deserted and gives a wonderful high-level stroll (once the steep stuff has been beaten). Already I could see the clouds bubbling up so I quickened my pace. No way did I want to get caught in a similar cloud-burst to the one I had to dash through at the supermarket the day before. The moorland was covered in bog cotton and the views to the high summits looked dark and threatening rather than warm and welcoming as they did when I drove past on my way in the car.

Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu

When I reached the main north facing escarpment the views were great and I had thought I might do an out and back along to Fan y Big. One look north at the long line of black clouds convinced me I’d better keep moving on my main circuit – it didn’t look the day to linger too long and push my luck.

Looking back along the Craig y Fan Ddu escarpment

Pen y Fan and Corn Ddu

Storm clouds gathering

Over the peat hags to Carn Pica for a brief brunch stop. There is a massive well-built cairn perched on the edge here with cracking views over to the Black Mountains and to my trusted friends, Ysgyryd Fawr and the Sugar Loaf.

Bog Cotton

I turned south and followed another escarpment around to Gwalciau’r Cwm. These lonely almost level escarpments really make for terrific walking – I don’t know why I’ve neglected them for so long. As always I spent my time looking for other possible routes. I reckon a long walk along the long ridge to the little hill of Tor y Foel to the South would be nice.

Tor y Foel and Tal y Bont Reservoir

I started down a ridiculously steep descent towards the Caerfanell river (remind me NOT to do this route in reverse). The walk then continues by the riverbank past numerous little cascades and waterfalls and some more lovely stopping places.

Caerfanell River

It was a little disappointing as the path keeps high up above the river and it’s difficult to see the falls. Still it’s a lovely valley and you can get up close to the main waterfall at the bottom.

Caerfanell Waterfall

Even better if you don’t try to hop across the boulders in front of a bunch of people and fall ar*e over t*t. My finger still hurts like hell. To get back to the car it’s a steep climb past another set of waterfalls.

More Waterfalls

More Waterfalls

The path is strewn with fallen trees, either nature has vindictive streak or someone in the Forestry Commission is having a laugh as they are crisscrossed over the path in a disturbingly regular pattern making progress extremely tedious. Or am I just paranoid. By the time I reached the car it was raining but I’d not been given the soaking I expected earlier. Top quality route and strongly recommended for anyone who wants to see the best of the Beacons without the crowds. 5.5 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent in 3 hours. On a more promising day I’d take longer with plenty of rest stops to soak up the views.

Full set of Flickr photos here

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Posted June 11, 2011 by surfnslide in Brecon Beacons, Walking

Tagged with , , ,

5 responses to “Untrodden Brecon Beacons (for me)

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  1. Well – you didn’t get Wales’ highest waterfall, but it looks like you did pretty well. Hopefully I’ll do equally well on my Berwyn Replacement Therapy walk tomorrow.
    Bit surprised to hear that you fell over and hurt your hand – it’s a wonder that you have any fingers left! Did you throw things and shout a lot? At least you weren’t on a pogo-stick at the time.
    Fan Y Big? If you hadn’t posted the map, I’d have thought you were making it up!

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    beatingthebounds
  2. A wise decision, it’s been chucking it down here since first light and still is, a thoroughly miserable day. VERY glad I went out yesterday now. I did manage to keep my cool when I fell over for a change – all those nice families (spot the quote!). I’ll try and put some more effort into hills with double entendre’s if that’s cheering you up.

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  3. Pingback: Swindale and Seat Robert « Beating The Bounds

  4. My first ever wild camp was during a 2 dayer from Talybont-on-Usk over Darren Fawr and Pant-y-Creigiau before ascending to Craig-y-fan-Ddu and into the route you took. I camped around Torpanteau if I recall (it was a few years ago now) and then headed back to Talybont the next day – it was a chill March weekend and Pen-y-Fan and Corn Ddu still had snow. Your pictures remind me quite a bit of that trip – it was certainly not ultralight – I must have been carrying over 10kg! Nice post and nice blog.

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    • Hi Maz, pleased to hear my photos brought back some fine memories. I must go back there and enjoy the route in a more leisurely fashion. It was a bit of a yomp around trying to beat the showers.

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