Remote mountain traverse: limestone scenery, Fan Gyhirych, a glacial escarpment, great views all around. Bus travel.
|Length||21.4 km (13.3 mi), of which 520m are on tarmac or concrete. Cumulative ascent/descent: 949/833m. For an alternative finish at the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre bus stop, see below Walk options.|
|Toughness||10 out of 10 Time: 6 ½ hours walking time.|
Craig y Nos Bus Stop is on line T6 (Swansea- Neath - Ystradgynlais – Brecon), with 11 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays, with a journey time of 40 mins from Neath (and 37 mins from Brecon). The journey time by train from London to Neath is from 2 ¾ hours.
The Llwyn-y-celyn and Storey Arms bus stops are on line T4 (Cardiff - Pontypridd – Merthyr Tydfil – Brecon – Newtown), with 6 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Saturday Walkers’ Club: This walk is not recommended as a daywalk from London, but when based in the area for a longer stay. Accommodation is available in Craig y Nos, nearby in Glyntawe or Pen y Cae, and further along the bus lines in Ystradgynlais and Sennybridge or Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil.
|Map||OS Landranger Map: 160 (Brecon Beacons) OS Explorer Map: OL12 (Brecon Beacons National Park)|
This is a traverse of the dramatic massif of the Fforest Fawr (‘The Great Forest’, with ‘Forest’ here denoting a former Royal Hunting Ground, rather than an area full of trees), one of the least frequented parts of the Brecon Beacons National Park, linking the Black Mountain to the west with the Central Brecon Beacons to the east.
From the Craig y Nos Country Park, an idyllic spot on the banks of the Afon Tawe (River Tawe) with its Victorian Gothic building, the route follows the Tawe Valley for a short stretch to rise steeply up a hillside to the Penwyllt Quarry, from where you follow old tramways up through the limestone terrain of the Ogon Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve, a large area of shakeholes and caves. You rise further along a good track and then trackless on up the slopes of Fan Gyhirych to its summit, the highest point of the walk, from where you have stupendous views of the surrounding upland moorland, the giants of the Beacons, the Black Mountain and of the Tawe Valley.
Follow a steep glacial escarpment above the Senni Valley down to a saddle and ascend Fan Nedd and then Fan Dringarth, from where the route turns to another dramatic glacial bowl in the Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve for a descent to the A 470.
An alternative finish at the Storey Arms Centre bus stop follows the Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad in a southerly direction and then the Craig y Fro escarpment high above the A 470.
An alternative route through the high plateau (adds 1.1 km) follows the Beacons Way between Penwyllt Quarry and Fan Dringarth, through the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu National Nature Reserve of Shake Holes and caves and along Sarn Helen (an old Roman Road) past an ancient standing stone (Maen Madoc) and an old Roman Camp.
A 1 km out-and-back from the main route leads to Maen Llia, an impressive Bronze Age standing stone.
The main walks’ finish links up with one of the alternative starts for SWC 278 (Brecon Beacons Horseshoe).
An alternative finish at the Storey Arms Outdoor Centre bus stop adds 800m and cuts out the very steep descent of the main route and links up with the start of SWC 85 (Pen Y Fan and Corn Du from Storey Arms) and with one of the other alternative starts for SWC 278 (Brecon Beacons Horseshoe).
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk