South Wales has a number of mountain walks that simply must be completed. Whether you’re looking for an escape from everyday life, or you’re looking for a challenge – there is something for you.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a couple of my own favourite trails. If you want extra information about how to get the best out of your journey, then read my post that breaks down how to prepare for a mountain walk.
Llyn y Fan Fach: “Lake of the Small Peak.”
I thought it would be a good idea to start this post with one of the quieter walks you can complete. This is for those of you who just want to escape civilisation for a few hours.
For this walk, you can take your dogs with you, but you should keep them on the lead because of the sheep in the area.
You can complete a 4km walk that will take you up to Llyn y Fan Fach lake, or you can do a 15km walk that’ll also take you to Llyn y Fan Fawr. The 4km walk should take around ninety minutes to complete, whereas the 15km walk should take around four hours.
Both walks begin at the Llyn y Fan Fach car park in Llandeussant. Because there are no toilets for at least a thirty-minute drive, and because there are no places to buy food – come prepared.
From the car park, you will be taken along a beautiful river that will guide you towards the magical Llyn y Fan Fach.
When I was researching this post, I read up on The Lady of the Lake. It’s a Welsh legend about Llyn y Fan Fach. Because I found it fascinating, I thought I’d share it with you too!
The Lady of the Lake
The lady of the lake is the story of a woman who lived in Blaensawdde. She hoped her son would continue the family line, but he was betrothed to no woman.
When the son was at Llyn y Fan Fach watching his flocks, he gazed upon a beautiful woman. Shy and nervous, he could only show his affection by offering some of his barley bread.
But the lady refused, disappearing into the rippling water.
The son dashed home to tell his mother the bizarre tale. The mother packed more bread, in case he saw her again.
As luck would have it, he saw the lady again the next day. Although she declined his bread for a second time, on the third day – she accepted. However, she said:
“I will be yours
But if you strike me three causeless blows
I will return to the lake forever more.”
The son was overjoyed, and soon enough they married. The couple moved down from the mountain and lived at Esgair Llaethdy, near Myddfai.
A son was born, and the new family attended a christening. But when the lady was slow to leave the house, her husband gently patted her on the back to move her along.
This was the first causeless blow.
In the following summer, a second child was born. Sometime later, the family attended the wedding of a cousin, during which the lady cried. He gently patted the lady’s shoulder, hoping he would be able to reassure her.
This was the second causeless blow.
He was distraught at how thoughtless he had been and resolved never to strike the lady a third causeless blow. Time passed, a third child was born, and the family lived happily.
However, one day, the family attended a funeral. During the funeral, the lady laughed.
She laughed in such a loud and inappropriate way that it alarmed the boy. Alarmed, and clueless about how to handle the situation, he gave her a small and gentle slap on the cheek to silence her.
This was the third causeless blow.
The lady ran out of the church, into the streets, and towards Llyn y Fan Fach. She ran on, and on, and on – and the boy couldn’t catch up with her. Finally, she vanished into the waters of Llyn y Fan Fach forevermore.
The boy returned home, mourning the loss with their three children. Time passed, the children grew up, and their mission in life was to become healers. They became the first in the long line Physicians of Myddfai
Back to Llyn y Fan Fach walk …
Llyn y Fan Fach is also an ideal spot for a picnic. With the isolation, the fresh air, and the scenery, there isn’t a better place to relax. Just remember to bring your own food.
You can also swim in the lake, and you can walk around it from ground level. For the best views, I’d recommend visiting at sunset.
If you want to continue this walk and complete the full circular walk, then you can continue to visit Llyn y Fan Fawr. Llyn y Fan Fawr roughly translates to “lake of the big peak”, and it’s one of the largest lakes in South Wales. To reach it, continue along the footpath.
Pen y Fan is one of the most popular walks in South Wales, and for good reason. At 886m above sea level, it is the highest peak in South Wales.
There are several places where you can start at this walk. The most popular starting point is the Storey Arms car park. From there, you can reach Corn Du’s 873m summit, and then Pen y Fan is just a short walk away.
For food and drink, we would still recommend bringing your own just in case. However, there is a small kiosk in the Storey Arms car park.
This walk should take around two and a half hours to complete, and it’s dog friendly. It’s also a reasonably easy walk, and it’s even doable for small children if the conditions are good.
However, this is still a mountain walk. So respect the hills, keep your dogs on a lead, and never ever wear flip flops!
Also bear in mind that because this is such a high mountain, the weather conditions change easily and frequently. Check the forecast, double check it, and then triple check it just to be safe.
If you know anyone who has completed Pen y Fan, you’ve likely also seen them stood next to a National Trust maintained sign. It’s perhaps the most rewarding part of the walk as it gives you a strong sense of achievement.
The National Trust need to replace the sign once every few years because of weather damage. The most recent time that the sign was changed was in 2018, and the previous sign was sold for £2100 at an auction.
Because of the changing weather conditions, the sign needs to be replaced every few years. The last time it got changed was in 2018, and the previous sign sold for £2100 at an auction.
This walk is for those of you who want something a bit more challenging. This walk will take you through Cribyn, Corn Du, Pen y Fan, and Fan y Big. You are guaranteed some stunning 360 views along the way at all of these points.
For this walk, you will need:
- A map and compass
- A whistle
- A torch
This is a 10 mile walk and should take 5-6 hours to complete. There are several car park options where you can start from, which adds a variety of options and gives you a strong reason to repeat this walk in the future.
The first spot where you can start this walk is the Neuadd Reservoir car park (CF48 2UT). This walk has the least amount of ascent to Waun Rhyd and Fan y Big.
The second parking point is the Storey Arms car park (LD3 8NL). This is the most popular route as it has the shortest ascent to Pen y Fan, and it also has two routes which lead into the circular walk.
You can also park at Talybont-on-Usk (LD3 7J3). This point is longer, and a walk from this point needs much more ascent.
Then there is the Brecon point car park (LD3 7SE). From this point, there are three parallel routes via three different ridges on the north of the mountain. This is also longer, with much more ascent.
Although the entire walk is connected with a path, I would still recommend walking in daylight hours. This is mostly for safety, but you also can’t see the amazing views if it’s dark. If you’re looking for solitude, then this is not the walk for you. It’s a popular tourist location, and it is busy all year round, however, this walk is perfect for those who want a walk that’s a little more challenging and want stunning scenery to admire as you hike along.
Share Your Own Walks With Us
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and feel encouraged to spend some time exploring some of South Wales’s best mountains. Feel free to share your own favourite hikes too, and comment below if you’ve tried any of the walks here!