Biting Cold on Tor-y-Foel, Brecon Beacons   12 comments

Still catching up on past adventures and walks. Mind you looking at the weather we have currently this walk could have just have easily taken place today rather than back in mid-February.

The little hill of Tor y Foel sits just the other side of the Talybont Reservoir from the main summits of the Brecon Beacons. It’s caught my eye on several walks, mainly as the end point of a long spur of moor and forest. It would make a great start or endpoint for a long circuit from Talybont, up over the eastern edges of the Beacons and back over this long ridge to Tor y Foel, in effect a round of the reservoir. But that was for another day. This day was grey and cold so just a short jaunt for me and TJS. I’d spied a nice circuit taking in the top and returning along the Usk Valley Walk by the canal. Rather than try to park in the busy village of Llangynidr we opted to park high on the ridge and take in the circuit from there. Not sure why it should feel so odd to start high, walk down and then back up to the start point but it always does. Must be my synchronised and ordered mind 🙂

Tor y Foel

6 miles, 1,700 feet of ascent

The views from the lofty perch where you park the car would be superb on a sunny day but today it was grey but the cloud was off the tops so not too bad. It was however startlingly cold with a keen wind and temperatures below freezing making for a chilly walk.

Talybont Reservoir

Talybont Reservoir

A brisk walk to the top and the wind was even keener. It was as cold as I’ve been out on the hills for a while and we barely paused as we admired the summit and ran off to find some shelter. It was a nice summit with great views as its fairly isolated, need to go back on a warm summers evening after work to enjoy it properly

Tor y Foel

TJS on the summit of Tor y Foel

Tor y Foel, Sugar Loaf, Black Mountains

Tor y Foel summit, Sugar Loaf & Black Mountains behind

The wind was blowing through every clothing gap, chilling us to the bone as we walked and half ran down the ridge. The ground was frozen solid and there was a very light dusting of snow. Be a good slope to ski on as it’s grassy and steep. Probably should have gone out this weekend but I’m prepping for a cold and wintry backpacking trip to the Western Highlands over Easter so I’m keen to keep my gear dry

Tor y Foel

Descending Tor y Foel

There is a band of trees about halfway down and this suddenly and unexpectedly gave shelter from the wind. It was amazingly calm and nothing like as cold so we stopped for lunch. Despite the weather it was actually warmer than the lunch stop we had in the sun on Crug Mawr the previous weekend.

Tor y Foel


From there it was a pleasant stroll over the frozen fields to Llangynidr. Quite an unusual feeling to walk on firm ground rather than the boggy muddy mess of the previous few months

Tor y Foel, Llangynidr

Tor y Foel from Llangynidr

From Llangynidr it was onto the Monmouthshire a Brecon Canal. There were a few boats docked below the locks seemingly in for repair ready for the new season. Other than that there wasn’t a soul around so it was a very easy-going stroll along the banks of the semi-frozen canal.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Llangynidr

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal at Llangynidr

TJS had some fun poking holes in the ice with my poles

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Llangynidr

Breaking the Ice

I was surprised that TJS had not seen a canal lock before so I had to explain how the boats use them and what a marvellous and simple invention they were at a time before true industrialisation. I imagine cruising along in summer would be a nice day out but it’s not for me. I’d prefer to walk along these old byways and on this day it was undeniably enjoyable, especially as we were out of the cold wind

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Llangynidr

More Locks

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

Tor y Foel from the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

After a couple of miles the Usk Valley Walk makes a steady rising traverse across the fields back to the road where we parked the car. Unspectacular on such a grey day but all part of a varied day with some decent views across to the western Black Mountains and the Sugar Loaf

Black Mountains, Usk Valley Walk

Black Mountains from the Usk Valley Walk

All that remained was a walk back along the road to the car. Cold and grey but a fine walk to be repeated and you can have too much blue sky and sunshine


12 responses to “Biting Cold on Tor-y-Foel, Brecon Beacons

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  1. Nice looking walk, but I have to say it doesn’t look quite as cold as today’s been 🙂


    • Have to admit I haven’t been outside since I got home from work on Friday night! TBF has been out and says it’s raw though. Looking forward to wild camping next weekend 😦


  2. D has a talent for looking cold at lunch spots. Finishing with an ascent is cruel and unusual punishment and surely is in contravention of the Human Rights Act or the Geneva Convention?
    You must eat your porridge? Splendid lyrics. I thought you were against porridge under all circumstances?


    • Life is cruel and unfair and it’s about time TJS learnt that
      It’s a pretty decent little album their greatest hits. Nothing wrong with porridge in someone else’s bowl


  3. As you know from my pics – you CANNOT EVER HAVE ENOUGH BLUE SKY…?! ^_^
    Also – spot of child cruelty [it is your son, yes?] abusing him as a model like that. Hope you made it worth his while!
    I am also quite liking the false sense of security with hiking up then down then up. Bit of an SM twist on a walk. Must be those Brecon hills that do it, ha”!


    • I like to think that I’m just “quirky” but most who know me think. I’m just not wired in the head properly. Thought it was about time I introduced my son to that. He hates having his photo taken so I suppose I could be accused of a bit of cruelty 🙂

      I’ve also been accused of seeing good weather and blue sky where there is none, I’ve gone all optimistic in my middle age


  4. Nice short circuit that, the wind must have been piercing.
    The long circuit around the reservoir you describe is a grand tour, finishing over Tor y Foel. Years ago, if I’m rememberingt it correctly, the forestry operations to the SW of the reservoir had diversions posted that were supposed to be effective for years hence – we just ignored them and hoped for the best – it was ok. at the time.


    • At the time I thought we were seeing the back of winter, how wrong was I! I really will try that circuit, doesn’t look too much of a problem to avoid the forestry hassle, I think they have cleared a fair bit of the higher stuff.
      Tor y Foel is a nice little hill and deserted canal towpath made an interesting part of the walk


  5. I know that I once managed to wrestle the campervan to park along that road, but have the feeling that i did not actually climb the hill. I plan to return one day and use it as a spring board to climb an isolated 2000ft peak to the south. Cant be arsed to get my map out they to see what its called………………


    • It’s a fine little hill, be a great high level summer bivvy or camp. There are some intriguing tracts of upland just and West that I need to explore and some fine limestone scenery and edges


  6. In many cases wind is hard and it is just that which bites when cold weather.


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