Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular walk

Up a tight valley to the Chartist Cave in the limestone uplands of Mynydd Llangynidr, return along the rim of the Crawnon Valley.

Clouds Rolling Down from the Waun Rydd SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

Clouds Rolling Down from the Waun Rydd

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Lone Walker in Upper Cwm Cleisfer SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

Lone Walker in Upper Cwm Cleisfer

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Chartist Cave on Mynydd Llangynidr SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

Chartist Cave on Mynydd Llangynidr

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sugar Loaf, from above Llangynidr SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

Sugar Loaf, from above Llangynidr

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Scene from Footpath along River Usk through Llangynidr SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular [Riverside Walk Alternative]

Scene from Footpath along River Usk through Llangynidr

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular [Riverside Walk Alternative]

10-Apr-19 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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...through a wooden gate in a wall into the churchyard of St. Mary & St. Cynydr, Llangynidr SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

...through a wooden gate in a wall into the churchyard of St. Mary & St. Cynydr, Llangynidr

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Bridge over the Nant Cleisfer SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

Bridge over the Nant Cleisfer

SWC Walk 332 Llangynidr to Bwlch or Circular

08-May-18 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk332 33804626348


21.9 km (13.6 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 752/655m. For a shorter walk, see below Walk options.

Start: Llangynidr Village Hall Bus Stop Finish: Bwlch All Saints or Llangynidr Village Hall Bus Stops.

Llangynidr Village Hall Bus Stop, map reference SO 155 196, is 14 km south east of Brecon, 218 km west northwest of Charing Cross and 123m above sea level. Bwlch All Saints Bus Stop, map reference SO 148 220, is 2.5 km north of Llangynidr and 223m above sea level. Both are in Powys, Wales.

Toughness 9 out of 10. Time: 6 ½ hours walking time.


Llangynidr is served by line 43 (Abergavenny – Brecon) with 4-5 buses a day Mon-Sat only. Bwlch is served by line X43 (Abergavenny – Brecon) with 7-8 buses a day Mon-Sat and 5 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Saturday Walkers’ Club: This walk is doable as a daywalk from London, especially if you have motorised transport, but also if taking a train to Abergavenny to connect to above bus services.


OS Landranger Map: 160 (Brecon Beacons) and 161 (The Black Mountains)

OS Explorer Map: OL12 (Brecon Beacons NP West) and OL 13 (Brecon Beacons NP East)

Walk Notes

This walk leads from Llangynidr village up along a tight valley, the Cwm Cleisfer, and onto the open limestone uplands of Mynydd Llangynidr, initially along a lane then through pastures, in the latter stages with some difficult-to-find-and-negotiate paths near the transition to the open moorland. Mynydd Llangynidr is a basically treeless undulating mountain of open limestone uplands with numerous depressions, shake holes and pits, as well as many ancient cairns (burial mounds) dotted across the moorland. You climb to the source of the Cleisfer, a perfect picnic spot, and then across the scarred landscape (map and compass come in handy) to the Chartist Cave, arguably one of Wales' most important historic monuments. The Chartists were a 19th century working-class movement for political reform and this cave is where the local group met and stored weapons before the Newport Rising of 1839.

You cross the top of the moorland hill and descend to a remote road by an active limestone quarry and pick up a former tramway for transporting goods to the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to skirt around the rim of the picturesque wooded Crawnon Valley. A stretch along a ridge high above the Talybont Reservoir is followed by a descent through lush pastures back to Llangynidr. To complete the walk, cross the Usk River and ascend to Bwlch on the other side for a return bus.

A detour near the end leads across Tor y Foel, one of the best mid-level viewpoints in the Brecon Beacons.

A variation close to the end follows a narrow path closely along the Usk River for a very bucolic stretch.

Walk Options

A start from Bwlch (with its more frequent bus service) is possible. But as – at the moment – the service to Llangynidr is sufficiently good in the morning, this is unlikely to be needed, and thus is a map-led option.

A Variation on the Cwm Cleisfer route circumvents an often-overgrown stretch with difficult route finding.

An Extension near the end over the Tor y Foel hill adds 250m and 113m ascent.

A Variation of the route near the end through Llangynidr leads along the rivers Crawnon and Usk to Llangynidr Bridge rather than along the canal. This is flood-prone when The Usk is in spate and has some steep and rocky bits.

A finish at the start point in Llangynidr is described but only makes sense if you arrived by car, as the last buses through the village will have left by the time you finish the walk.

Lunch (off route)

Tafarn-Ty-Uchaf (Top House) Trefil Road, Trefil, Tredegar,Blaneau Gwent, NP22 4HG (01495 717 690). The Top House is located 1.8 km off route, after 9.3 km/5.8 mi of walking.


The Coach & Horses Inn Cwm Crawnon Road, Llangynidr, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1LS (01874 730 245). Open all day every day. Food served 12.00-14.00 (-15.00 Sun) and 18.00-21.00. Located 3.1 km from the end of the walk.
The Walnut Tree Café Bar Coed-Yr-Ynysh Road, Llangynidr, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1NA (01874 730 309). Open to 17.00 Mon-Sat and to 16.30 Sun. Located 2.2 km from the end of the walk.
The Red Lion Duffryn Road, Llangynidr, Crickhowell, Powys, NP8 1NT (01874 730 223). Open all day every day. Food served 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.00. Located near the start of the walk, i.e. at the other end of the village from the end of the walk route.
The New Inn Bwlch, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7RQ (01874 730 215).Open 17.00-late Mon-Fri and 12.00-late weekends. Food served 12.00-15.00 (Sat-Sun) and 18.00-21.00 (every day). Located right at the end of the walk.

Welsh Glossary

aber: estuary, confluence, river mouth; afon: river; allt: hillside, cliff; aran: high place; bach: small; ban/fan/bannau (pl): peak, beacon, crest, hill, mountain; big: peak; blaen: source of river, head of valley; bod: dwelling; bre: hill; bron: hill-breast; bryn: hill; bwlch: gap, col, pass; cadair: chair; cae: field; caer/gaer: stronghold, fort; capel: chapel; carn/garn/carnedd/garnedd: cairn/heap of stones, tumulus; carreg/garreg: stone, rock; cefn: ridge, hillside; castell: castle; celli: grove, copse; cerwyn: pot-hole; cist: chest; clwyd: hurdle, gate; clog/clogwyn: cliff; clun: meadow; clydach: torrent; coch/goch: red; coed: wood; craig/graig: rock; crib/cribyn: crest, ridge, summit; crug: mound; cul: narrow; cwm: hangingvalley, corrie, bowl, dale; cyfrwy: ridge between two summits (saddle); ddinas: fort; dibyn: steep slope, precipice; diffwys: precipice, abyss; dim: no; din: hill-fortress: disgwylfa: place of observation, look-out point; dôl: meadow; du/ddu: black, dark; dwfr/dŵr: water; dyffryn: valley; -dyn: fortified enclosure; eglwys: church; eisteddfod: meeting-place, assembly; esgair: ridge; fach: small; fawr/mawr: big; fechan: smaller; ffald: sheep-fold, pound, pen, run; ffordd: road; ffridd: pasture; ffrwd: stream, torrent; ffynnon: spring, well; gallt: wooded hill; ganol: middle; garth: promontory, hill, enclosure; glan/lan: river-bank, hillock; glas: green, when referring to grass, pasture or leaves; or blue, when relating to the sea or air; glyn: deep valley, glen; gors: bog; gorsedd: tumulus, barrow, hillock; gwyddfa: mound, tumulus; gwylfa: look-out point; gwyn/gwen: white; gwynt: wind; hafn: gorge, ravine; hafod: summer dwelling; hen: old; hendre(f): winter dwelling, old home, permanent abode; heol: road; hesgyn: bog; hir: long; is: below, lower; llan: church, monastery; llawr: level area, floor of valley; llech: slab, stone, rock, rock; llethr: slope; lluest: shieling, cottage, hut; llwch: lake, dust; llwybr: path; llwyd: grey, brown; llwyn: bush, grove; llyn: lake; llynwyn: pool, puddle, moat; isa(f): lower, lowest; maen: stone; maes: open field, plain: mawn: peat; mawnog: peat-bog; melyn: yellow; merthyr: burial place, church; moel/foel: bare, bald/bare hill; mynydd: mountain, moorland; nant: brook, stream, dingle, glen; neuadd: hall; newydd: new; ogof/gogof: cave; pant: hollow; parc: park, field, enclosure; pen: head, top, end, edge; penrhyn: promontory; pentre(f): homestead, village; perfedd: middle; perth: bush, brake, hedge; plas: hall, mansion; pont/bont: bridge; porth: gate, gateway, harbour, bay, landing-place, ferry; pwll: pit, pool; rhiw: hill, slope; rhos: moor, promontory; rhudd: red, crimson; rhyd: ford; sarn: causeway; sgwd/rhaeadr: waterfall; sticill: stile; sych: dry; tafarn: tavern; tâl: end, top; talar: headland (of field); tan/dan: below; tarren/darren: escarpment; tir: land, territory; tor: break, gap; tre/tref: settlement, hamlet, town; twlch: tump, knoll; twll: hole, pit; tŵr: tower; tŷ: house; twyn: hill; uchaf: upper, highest; uwch: above, over; waun/gwaun: moorland, meadow; wen/wyn: white; y, yr, ‘r: the; ynys: island, holm, river-meadow; ysgol: ladder, formation on mountain-side/school; ysgwydd: shoulder (of mountain); ystafell: chamber, hiding-place; ystrad: wide valley, holm, river-meadow.


Usk Valley/River Usk (Afon Wysg)
The River Usk (Afon Wysg in Welsh) rises on the northern slopes of The Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Du in Welsh), in the westernmost part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, initially forming the boundary between Carmarthenshire and Powys. It flows north into Usk Reservoir, then east by Sennybridge to Brecon before turning southeast to flow by Talybont-on-Usk, Crickhowell and Abergavenny after which it takes a more southerly course. Beyond the eponymous town of Usk it passes the Roman legionary fortress of Caerleon to flow through the heart of the city of Newport and into the Severn estuary at Uskmouth at Newport Wetlands. Its total length is 102 km/63 mi.
The name of the river derives from a Common Brittonic word meaning "abounding in fish" or "water", which also appears in other river names such as Exe, Axe, Esk and other variants.
The whole river downstream of Usk Reservoir has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has long been a noted salmon and trout fishing river.

Brecon Beacons National Park
Home to spectacular landscapes, a rich variety of wildlife and fascinating cultural and geological heritage, the Brecon Beacons National Park in Mid-Wales boasts a magnificent array of Old Red Sandstone peaks, open moorland and green valleys, spanning 1,344 km2 (520 mi2). Pen y Fan within the Central Beacons is perhaps the best-known summit but there are many others in the five distinct parts of the National Park (Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Du) in the far west, Fforest Fawr, Central Beacons, the Llangattock and Llangynidr Hills, and the Black Mountains to the east).

The Black Mountains/Y Mynyddoedd Duon
The Black Mountains (Welsh: Y Mynyddoedd Duon) are a group of hills spread across parts of Powys and Monmouthshire, and extending across the border into Herefordshire. They are the easternmost of the four hill ranges that comprise the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Black Mountains may be roughly defined as those hills contained within a triangle defined by the towns of Abergavenny in the southeast, Hay-on-Wye in the north and the village of Llangors in the west. Other gateway towns to the Black Mountains include Talgarth and Crickhowell. The highest mountain in the group is Waun Fach at a height of 811m above sea.

Mynydd Llangynidr
Mynydd Llangynidr is a basically treeless undulating mountain of open limestone uplands lying between 420m and 557m above sea (at Garn Fawr). It is formed from a layer cake of sandstones and limestones which dip gently southwards into the South Wales Coalfield basin. Broken cliffs of Carboniferous Limestone occur along the northern edges and this rock underlies the entire mountain. Consequently, there are numerous depressions, sink holes and pits.
It is located largely in the county of Powys, but its southern slopes extend into the County Boroughs of Blaneau Gwent and Caerphilly. To the north the hill overlooks Llangynidr village and the valleys of Dyffryn Crawnon and Cwm Claisfer, themselves tributary valleys of the Usk, and to the south the valleys of the Sirhowy and Ebbw Rivers, an early centre of the Industrial Revolution in Wales. Mynydd Llangynidr is a child summit of Cefn yr Ystrad to its south west, and to the east it merges with Mynydd Llangatwg.
There are two large limestone quarries on the hill, one active (Trefil), one not (Blaen Onneu), as well as many smaller and older workings for limestone, sandstone or ironworks.
Numerous ancient cairns (burial mounds) are dotted across the moorland, the most notable of which are Garn Fawr ('big cairn') and Carn Caws ('cheese cairn'). Other prehistoric cairns and a stone row together with evidence of house platforms occur towards its northern edge.

Shake Holes, Swallow Holes and Limestone Pavements
Shakeholes (or sinkholes or dolines) are a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Some are caused by karst processes, for example, the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffusion processes. They tend to occur in karst landscapes, which can have up to thousands of sinkholes within a small area, giving the landscape a pock-marked appearance. These sinkholes can drain all the water, so that there are only subterranean rivers in these areas.

Chartist Cave and Movement
Arguably one of Wales' most important historic monuments, this cave is where workers who were involved in the Newport Rising of the 4th November 1839 hid, met in secret and plotted the Chartist Uprising – in effect the beginning of democracy for all (men) in Britain and their numbers and fury an inspiration for Karl Marx to write the Communist Manifesto and later Das Kapital.
The cave entrance itself is an earth-topped broad arch formed of millstone grit and easily missed. A passage drops to a lower chamber with many passages leading off from it and the known length of the cave is 440m but it is likely part of a much more extensive cave system under the moors of the Mynydd Llangynidr.

The Newport Uprising was the last large-scale armed rebellion against authority in Great Britain, when almost 10,000 Chartist sympathisers, led by John Frost, marched on Newport, Monmouthshire. The men, including many coal-miners, most with home-made arms, were intent on liberating fellow Chartists who were reported to have been taken prisoner in the town's Westgate Hotel. About 22 demonstrators were killed when troops ensconced in the hotel opened fire on them. The leaders of the rebellion were convicted of high treason and sentenced to transportation for life (like the Tolpuddle Martyrs around the same time). Testimonies suggest that Newport was to have been the signal for a national uprising.

Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Potteries, the Black Country, and the South Wales Valleys. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 which called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic, the first five of which have now become law: a vote for every man over 21 years of age, a secret ballot (instead of public voting), MPs to not have to own property, MPs to be paid, equal voting constituencies, an election every year (as a check to bribery and intimidation).

Aneurin Bevan Heritage Trail
Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, now famed as the founder of the NHS, was the Labour MP for Ebbw Vale and was born and lived in nearby Tredegar. He often walked the foothills and moorlands around the area to rehearse his speeches and recite passages of literature to overcome his speech impediment. His vision for an NHS was inspired by the Tredegar Workmen's Medical Aid Society, a medical health scheme which covered nearly all of Tredegar's residents through weekly subscriptions. So, as minister for health, he was famously reported as saying that he wanted to "Tredegarise" the entire population of Britain.

Bryn Oer Tramway/Brinore Tramroad
The Bryn Oer Tramway (also known as the Brinore Tramroad) was a horse-worked narrow-gauge railway built in 1814 as a feeder railway to transport freight to the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal for transhipment. It served the Bryn Oer collieries and the limestone quarries at Trefil, dropping 330m along its route to the canal at Talybont-on-Usk. An extension was built to serve the Rhymney ironworks in the Rhymney Valley. By 1860 most of the tramway's traffic was being sent by railways and it closed in 1865, although many stone sleepers are still in place and most of the route is now a public bridleway.

Beacons Way
The Beacons Way is a 152 km (95 mi) linear waymarked long-distance footpath running east to west across the Brecon Beacons National Park. It passes many of the most important landmarks and mountain peaks in the range, but has limited waymarking, especially on open hill and moorland sections, meaning navigation skills are essential. First established in 2005, the route was revised in 2016.

Bwlch(‘pass’ in Welsh) is a small settlement strung out along the A 40 which crosses a low col above the Usk Valley at this point between Brecon and Crickhowell. The village is situated 2 km north of the River Usk and about 100m above the valley floor, so that various parts of the village command panoramic views across the Rhiangoll valley to the south-western flanks of the Black Mountains, west to the Brecon Beacons and south to Mynydd Llangynidr and Mynydd Llangattock. The ‘pass’ separates the rolling moorlands of Cefn Moel and Mynydd Llangorse in the northeast from Buckland Hill to the southwest. Nearby on the slopes of Cefn Moel is a defensive enclosure from prehistoric times as well as a Roman auxiliary fort at Pen-y-gaer.

Usk Valley Walk
The Usk Valley Walk is a linear 78 km (48 mi) waymarked Long-Distance Path starting in the south from Caerleon and following the Usk (and the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal) upstream to Brecon.

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park is in south Wales. It consists of bare, grassy, glacial mountains, with north facing escarpments. Its peaks, just shy of 1,000m (3,000ft), are the highest mountains in the southern UK. The national park is also noted for reservoirs, and the Dan yr Ogof caves. Its 4 mountain areas, from west to east are:

  • The Black Mountain (singular!) : Fan Brycheiniog (803m) and the Dan yr Ogof caves.
  • Fforest Fawr : Fan Gyhirych (725m), Fan Nedd (663m), Fan Fawr (734m), and the Henrhyd waterfalls (Sgwd Henrhyd)
  • The Brecon Beacons : Pen y Fan (886m), Corn Du (873m), Cribyn (795m), Fan y Big (719m), Waun Rydd (769m). South of Brecon, north of Merthyr Tydfil.
  • The Black Mountains (plural!) : Waun Fach (811m), Black Mountain (703m). Abergavenny to the south. Hay-on-Wye to the north.

Our Brecon Beacons Walks

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Start Llangynidr, Powys, Wales Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Sep-19 Thomas G

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This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk