Since moving to South Wales three Years ago we have discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the many hiking trails that are available across the peaks that are on our doorstep. We love to share our favourite walking spots with our guests, so we have written this blog to show people from outside of the area how beautiful the Brecon Beacons really are.
The western Brecon Beacons are an incredible and less explored area of the National Park and is predominantly made up of the Black Mountain (not to be confused with the Black Mountains on the Eastern edge of the park) and Carmarthen Fans.
This part of the national park is also referred to as the Fforest Fawr Geopark, which translates as ‘Great Forest’ in English. We took a quick look at the Fforest Fawr website and we learned that this is a swathe of upland country that was included within the National Park when it was designated in 1957. These uplands lie at the heart of the Fforest Fawr Geopark, itself established in 2005, although it extends beyond them to include much surrounding countryside. In fact, the Geopark’s 300 square miles / 763 km2 include mountain and moorland, woods and meadows, towns and villages, lakes and rivers and a great deal more besides.”
More information about Fforest Fawr is available here https://www.fforestfawrgeopark.org.uk/.
Within this part of the National Park there are so many fantastic walks to go on and it was tricky to pick our top 5. But here we go.
1.Llyn Y Fan Fach / Fawr
OS grid ref SN 799 238 (Car Park)
A stunning walk offering some breathtaking views on a clear day and still plenty of good Welsh rugged greenery on cloudier days. This walk starts in the North Western community of Llanddeusant, where there is plenty of space to park although it does require some navigation of windy country lanes before reaching the car park. The walk follows a man-made track with a gentle ascent up to the first mountain lake Llyn Y Fan Fach. This lake sits at approximately 506m high and there is a small hut or bothy to sit in and rest before continuing your walk. The walk to Llyn Y Fan Fach and back to the car park is approximately 2.6 miles and is suitable for all levels of walkers.
If you are looking for something more challenging, then there are various walks in a range of lengths up to 12 miles from the car park all at varying levels of difficulty to be enjoyed.
More information can be found below in the Walks in Carmarthenshire infographic.
2.Cribarth (Sleeping Giant)
OS grid ref SN 827142 (summit)
This mountain is located opposite Craig Y Nos Castle and Country park, worth a stop for a look around and ideally located for a swift half or some lunch after your walk. There is parking in the layby just before the castle and paid parking in the country park car park just a few yards further along. It is easy to get to by car, taking the A4067 from Ystradgynlais or from Sennybridge. This is named by local people as the Sleeping Giant because as you approach, the mountain really does look like a giant sleeping with his hands on his stomach.
The entrance to the walk is opposite the layby and it follows a track up the side of the mountain. This is a steep and muddy ascent and does require a certain level of physical fitness and regular stops to admire the view (and catch your breath). Once at the top you climb over a style and it takes you to the start of the peak of the mountain. There are many routes and walks that can be taken from here across the rocky outcrop of this stunning mountain. Word of warning there are many sharp rocks around as this used to be an area of extensive quarrying. The walk is approx. 3-6 miles long depending on how far you wish to explore.
We have the OS Map for this area in the B&B, guests are welcome to borrow the map and we will show you the routes if you need help before you set out.
3.Henrhyd falls and Nant Lech Walk (As seen in Batman: The Dark Knight)
National Trust car park, grid ref: SN853121
This is located at the entrance to the national park in the Upper Swansea Valley. Henrhyd falls is a national trust attraction that is free to enter. The walk starts from the car park that can be found by following the road signs from Coelbren. There is extra cake on offer for anyone completing the walk dressed as batman.
The walk to Henrhyd falls from the car park is down a track that is quite steep (great for a few pics of your cape flapping in the wind) and there are several benches along the route to rest when going down and then coming back up again. The path takes you through a wooded area and over a small bridge. From here you can start to see the falls and if there has been a lot of rain you will be able to hear the roar of the water too.
One of the best things about these falls is the ability to go behind them and experience the full waterfall experience. You can then take a slow walk back up to the carpark or continue along the gorge up to Ynyswen as seen in the map below. This walk is suitable for all fitness levels but beware of the steep walk back up to the car.
4. Pen Y Fan
Pont ar Daf car park, grid ref: SN988199
Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and It stands at 886m high with several different routes that can be taken to get to the peak. The main route is from Pont Ar Daf car park which can be found on the A470 from Brecon.
The route from this car park follows a track that has been created. This walk is suitable for most fitness levels and the route you take will depend on your current fitness level as it is quite an arduous climb up to the peak. Determination is needed to get to the top if climbing mountains is not your usual activity, and don’t forget all the correct walking equipment and footwear! Flip flops is a no on this walk! Once at the peak there are fantastic views of all the Brecon Beacons and on a clear day and you can get your photo taken with the plaque.
If it’s cloudy then you can still get a picture with the plaque, but you will want to return to see the views at another time. Be warned that on warm clear days this route can be extremely busy and parking and waiting to get your photo taken on the peak can be time consuming. There are several other quieter routes to the peak, but these are more strenuous and for the more experienced walker.
Like with any other mountain the weather can and does change at a moment’s notice. So let someone know where you are going especially if you are on your own and take full use of the tracking apps like what3words. https://what3words.com/daring.lion.race
5. Black Mountain Quarry
OS grid ref SN 733187 (car park)
The Black Mountain quarries or Herbert’s quarry as it is known can be found in the western part of the national park just off the A4069 and is home to an area of old disused lime quarries. This area is an important part of the Welsh industrial history and is in a truly stunning part of South Wales.
On a clear day there are spectacular views across the Black Mountain peaks and south and central Wales. There are 2 car parks located just off the A4069 and there are many paths and routes that can be taken across the quarries and up along the peaks behind them. If you love Geology this is the place to visit! The A4069 is also a fantastic road to drive along and has been featured on Top Gear many times.
As we mentioned at the start of the blog these are just our 5 favourite walks and of course there are plenty more around that can be discovered. As with any rural mountainous area we do strongly recommend always wearing appropriate footwear and clothing and always telling someone where you are going.
Let us know if you are heading out or pop your name, planned walk and expected return time on the board in the breakfast room and if anything unplanned were to happen we can get some help organised for you. The weather in the higher peaks can be unpredictable and the last thing you would want after a fun filled day is to be rescued by mountain rescue!
After a long day in the National park we always have tea and cakes waiting for you at Cwtch Farm B&B and are always excited to hear about your adventures!!
So, what are you waiting for, isn’t it time you booked a trip to the Brecon Beacons and South Wales!!