Archive for the ‘Fforest Fawr’ Tag

Sunshine after the rain (and before plenty more)   4 comments

As I was saying in my last post, the weather since November has been universally appalling. Well apart from one weekend anyway. At some indeterminate point in those dark days the weather chilled, deposited a little snow on to the mountains and the sky cleared just long enough to enjoy it.

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I did this walk with TJS earlier in the year and, keen to introduce TBF to the charms of Fforest Fawr we headed there again.

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The route is described in detail in the other post so I’ll let the photos do the talking – mostly.

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The mountains were shrouded in cloud for the first couple of hours and we wandered about in the gloom on Fan Gyhirych with some tantalising glimpses of the Black Mountain

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As we descended the blue skies and sunshine the the forecast promised arrived and we were treated to some superb views. This was more than ample compensation for the incredibly soggy nature underfoot, 2-3 weeks of ceaseless rain, wet, thawing snow and summer boots (yes, I know, poor decision) makes for very wet feet.

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Lunch in a slightly less boggy spot was followed by a climb to top of Fan Nedd where a spell of heavy rain that the forecast hadn’t promised hastened our descent and cut short the day

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Short and sweet but a splendid day nonetheless. The appalling weather that followed made me rather glad I’d made the effort. In this most awful of winters, any day not characterised by ceaseless rain is a good one

More new terrain for the Sherpas   6 comments

A couple of weekends back we had a glimpse of spring before the winter storms returned. The area between the main Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain, Fforest Fawr is not somewhere I’ve really explored so it was time to put that right

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

Grey and gloomy as we set off from home the skies cleared as we headed west and were under sunny blue skies as we parked up. We squeezed onto the verge next to the monolithic stone of Maen Lia. I assume its a glacial erratic. There was an information board but I couldn’t be bothered to climb over the stile to take a look. Stiles cause me more grief than rocky mountains these days.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

Grass is the name of the game in this part of the National Park. Big, broad rolling grassy hills with an occasional rocky cwm to divert the eye.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

This little tour also had a nice high start at over 400m ideal for a lazy-ish day. To try and make some kind of circuit we found a route in a book that promised a fine traverse under the northern escarpment of Fan Nedd out to Fan Gyhirych and then back over Fan Nedd.

Fforest Fawr 1

Fforest Fawr 2

This was a sound recommendation and after a bit of grass bashing we picked up the path that follows the wall and contours perfectly from one side of the mountain to the other

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

The view back down the valley of the Afon Senni was especially fine

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

Over some squelchy bog and up to the northern escarpment at Bwlch y Duwynt. Panoramic views to the north and a particularly fine view of the shapely summit of Fan Gyhirych (some very tricky summit names in these parts). “Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight”

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

There is a wide and gravelly landrover track that heads up toward the summit. I figured there would be a thin path that traces much nearer to edge and I was right. It was a fabulous walk, highlighted with a couple of lingering snow patches for added interest.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

We spiralled around the broad and boogy summit to appreciate the full vista of views out towards the Black Mountain. With its very distinctive shape, easily identifiable  and its lonely expansive views it immediately dropped into my favourite summits list.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

We retraced our steps along the edge back down to the bog and this time hit the summit of Fan Nedd.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

By now the sun was warm and we were out of the wind on the summit. We had a vague plan to descend the south ridge and return to the car via Fan Llia on the other side of the road. The soft grass and warm sunshine seemed a much better idea. Boots were removed and a long lazy lunch stop seemed in order. No sense wasting good mountain summit lazing time.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

The arrival of another group signalled our time to leave them to enjoy the summit for themselves. We wandered down to the cairn at the far end of the ridge and then in a rather enjoyably lazy and aimless sort of way, headed back to the car via a succession of sheep tracks and menacing tussock fields.

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

The car was hot and needed a blast of aircon before we could sit inside. Spring really was here. False dawn as always. Storms last night blew down more of my garden fence, tore a few more soffitt boards off and seriously damaged one of our upstairs windows. 2014 was the years of the floods, 2015 is the year of the gales

maen llia, brecon beacons, fforest fawr, black mountain, fan nedd, fan llia, Bwlch y Duwynt, afon senni, Fan Gyhirych

And with that I have an announcement. After nearly 2 years of blog slavery I’m finally up to date!! I have no more write ups to do (this walk was only 2 weekends ago). I never thought I’d ever do it but I have. Feels weird. Luckily I’m off to Scotland tomorrow for some winter backpacking in Lochaber followed hopefully by a weekend in Snowdonia. I’ll soon be several posts behind again. Perhaps I should stop going out, life would be so much easier.

A fine group of hills these and very quiet with only a handful of people seen all day. We waved at the masses on Pen y Fan but they didn’t wave back 🙂

Fan Fawr with TJS   6 comments

Still in February in blog-time. Short post of a walk I did with TJS over the Fforest Fawr hills to the west of Brecon Beacons

The forecast looked promising for the morning with rain spreading in for the afternoon. An early start was called for and things, whilst cold, looked promising when we set off. Lots of blue sky and sunshine but with dark clouds which I assumed would clear as per the forecast

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Wrong! What the forecast had failed to predict were short and very heavy rain and hail-storms and the first one hit us within 15 minutes as we traversed under Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. TJS has never been out in hail before and I don’t think he was all that enamoured! What they lack in duration they more than make up for in pain and wetness!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

We moved at a brisk pace in the cold wind, following the edge of the cliffs up on to the top (bypassing the trig point at Fan Frynych – Trig points in the middle of bogs are an acquired taste). There was someone camping and it looks a good spot with plenty of soft grass and moss and a fine view over the Beacons.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The next section is a trudge across an expanse of grass and bog of to the base of Fan Fawr. Not a place to be caught in a hail-storm. Needless to say we got caught in a hailstorm and a pretty lengthy and nasty one at that. We were soaked in readiness for the steep climb up to the summit.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

No path so a tough climb up steep grass. TJS needs experience of off-piste terrain to build his fitness so this was good challenge he coped well with although I think he prefers a good path!

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

The summit was cold, windy and dark with the threat of more sky-fall. We headed down the obscenely steep slopes of grass to find a spot for lunch.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

TJS seemed a little slower than usual and heading down the Taff Trail section he seemed distinctly unhappy. When I pressed him, he told me his boots were too small and had been giving him grief for several weeks! Quite why he hadn’t told me before is anyone’s guess but they were almost 2.5 sizes too small. Doesn’t always occur to me that he’s still growing and his feet are now as big as mine

The walk back was enlivened by the sight of a car that appeared to have slid down the long bank below the road with rescue operations underway. You can just see the red car in the bottom left hand corner of the photo below

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

So the long trudge back down the trail was a slightly dispiriting one for him and all in all a bit of a disappointing day considering the weather had been less than expected and we’d made an early start to enjoy it.

Fan Fawr, Fforest Fawr, Craig Cerrig Geisiad, Fan Frynych

Still as always its good to get out in the fresh air is it does disprove the theory that we only ever go out in the sunshine 🙂

You can see a slightly sunnier version of this walk from a couple of years back here

Autumnwatch – Craig Cerrig Gleisiad   6 comments

This was an autumn repeat of a longer walk I did last summer. The darker nights and colder days were fast approaching so I wanted to get the family out as much as possible before the winter arrives and the TV and Wii become a more attractive option for the kids.

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

I was after a short walk but the weather looked promising enough for a day on some loftier heights. This walk combines a high start with a relatively short walk into a wonderful corrie and around its edge with expansive views. Just the ticket.

Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du

Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du

It was lunchtime by the time we set off from the car park on the A470 and headed up the broad path towards the dramatic cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad. This area to the west of the main Brecon Beacons range is known as Fforest Fawr (The Great Forest), named for its status as a hunting ground rather than an expanse of trees. The area is a National Nature Reserve and within 5 minutes you are up into the heart of this wonderful and relatively little known cwm. On both occasions I’ve visited I’ve seen few people compared to the massed ranks slogging up the grinding bore of a path up Pen-y-Fan from the Storey Arms a mile or so up the road.

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

L climbs the stile into the cwm

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

D walks in Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

The path crosses a wall to a wonderful spot beside a tinkling stream where the full grandeur of the corrie is revealed. Sculpted by ice, it’s a home to several rare arctic-alpine plants such as Purple and Mossy Saxifrage. This is as far south as they are found in the UK and they don’t re-appear again until the high alps. The cliffs, rather than rocky are cloaked in heather and trees with hawthorn, rowan, mountain ash and whitebeams clinging to the steep slopes. Peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs joined by merlins and red kites. In the summer ring ouzels, skylarks and chaffinches fill the slopes with song and colour is provided with an array of butterflies that seem at odds with the higher altitude.

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

D in Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

On this day of cold air and bright skies we didn’t see much of this flora and fauna but the views were awesome. There were some dark brooding clouds mixed with bright clear sunshine and an exceptional clarity to the light and the walking was a pleasure. There are a couple of paths that head straight up to the ridge but like my last visit I chose to follow the path that runs across the bottom edge (a little soggy but passable) to the far end of the ridge coming down from Fan Frynych.

Storey Arms

South towards the Storey Arms

This gives great views up into the dark recesses of the crags, back across to Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du and down over the Usk valley to Brecon and the Black Mountains beyond. Once on the ridge it’s a broad easy path up onto the broad plateau of Fan Frynych. We took advantage of a spell of sunshine to have lunch and a cuppa amongst the hollows created when stone was quarried from up here.

Fan Frynych

Lunch on Fan Frynych

Fan Frynych

North towards Brecon from Fan Frynych

From there it’s an easy stroll along the edge of the cwm towards what passes for the summit. The views across the Fforest Fawr and the Brecons were amazing, the dark clouds adding a sense of moody magnificence to the scene.

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Fan Frynych

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad from Fan Frynych

Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, Fan Frynych

Fan Frynych from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

I looked across to the much higher bulk of Fan Fawr that I’d climbed the previous visit and wished I was carrying on – it’s a pleasant high-level grassy stroll.

Fforest Fawr, Black Mountain

Fforest Fawr and Black Mountain

As you start to head down the path hugs tight to the cliff edges giving some eagle eye views into the dark corrie below. We kept looking for the Peregrines or other birds of prey swooping and hunting amongst the cliffs but with no luck.

Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du, Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

Pen-y-Fan & Corn Du from Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

Pen-y-Fan, Corn Du, Craig Cerrig Gleisiad

D on the edge

The path descends back towards the main access path in a startlingly steep manner, causing some amusement for the kids at sliding around on their bottoms to avoid a more calamitous tumble. All too soon the we were back by the stream and onto the car, a great short walk over. As the weather chills it gets harder to entice the kids out onto the hills – have to leave them with TBF I suppose 🙂

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