Date walked: 9th September 2016

Distance: around 12 miles

Map used: OS Explorer OL 1 2- Brecon Beacons National Park (Western area)

Guide followed: Cambrian Way  by A.J. Drake – 7th edition

**************

Today Paul, Neil and I  were joined by a good friend of Neil’s called Malvern (no, I never did ask where he got such an unusual name from). A jolly fellow, he had stayed with Neil and they and Paul had kindly done the clever stuff with the cars earlier on so that I could have a lie-in. We met around 11.30am.

Cambrian Way near Bwlch Bryn- rhudd, Brecon Beacons, photographed by Charles Hawes

And jolly well equipped, too

Neil had proposed one of the “official alternative” routes as defined by Drake by heading south and taking a ridge walk on the side of Fan Hir which he (rightly) predicted should be spectacular. This is an area of the Brecon Beacons National Park called the Black Mountain and  the peaks that we would climb today are collectively called the Carmarthen Fans.

Neil  had also suggested driving down to a convenient point on the A4067 to start this section. I drew the line at this, insisting that we must always start where we last left off.

Our reward was a bit of an uncomfortable scramble along a fence edge…

cambrian-day-12-1

….. followed by a very pleasant mile along an old railway embankment.

cambrian-day-12-5

Although this had all but disappeared at one point.

cambrian-day-12-4

Neil’s forbearance did not run to keeping to the logical footpath for my indulgence however, which would have added about two miles to the walk. This meant that we had to strike across the side of the hill towards a water treatment works.  Which proved to be a lot harder than it looked, the ground being boggy, very rutted and waist high in reeds.

At least no one got into assigning blame for this bit

When we got to the boundary of the water works we also had to trespass and climb the fence in order to reach something resembling a path.

I think Malvern was about to dive over

When we did find a path, Neil confidently led us to a field on the edge of a little hamlet where there were two friendly horses…..

cambrian-day-12-9

….. and a washing line of very boring but very white underwear.

I notice one vest is off-white

We crossed the A4067 a had a short section by the River Tawe, picking up the Beacons Way at a property called Ty Henry. But our acquaintance was brief as the Way takes a lower level route than we were destined for.

River Tawe on the Cambrian Way photographed by Charles Hawes

It was time for a climb.

Climbing to Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

Or in Paul’s case, a wade

As we climbed, so we had a good view back to our last peak of Fan Gyhirych.

View to Fan Gyhirych, climbing to Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice day!

Paul did his usual of forging ahead on the climbs. Neil was struggling a bit so we had a lunch break during which Malvern told me a depressing story of how his business was getting hammered by the post- brexit vote fall in the value of the pound. I’m afraid I couldn’t face telling him that I was partly responsible.

Climbing to Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

A fine figure of a man

But eventually we all got high enough up the side of the hill to see the ridge of Fan Hir ahead of us.

Climbing to Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was about a two-mile gentle climb to reach the highest point of over 2,400 feet and as we climbed, the views around us got better and better.

View to Fan Gyhirych, climbing to Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

Ahead, we had a fabulous escarpment that echoed that at Pen-y -Fan.

Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

As we marvelled at the view we joined briefly by a wizened guy – of about our age- who had climbed up from The Beacons Way. He had no map and didn’t seem that bothered by not really knowing where he was. He volunteered that he organises bluegrass festivals and was on  a break between a couple. Anyway, we showed him where he was and he zoomed off, leaving us to do some more marvelling.

Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

At one particular outcrop of rock above a near-sheer fall of several hundred feet Neil took marvelling a bit too far for my comfort.

Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’m sure he would have thought twice if he had known he was exposing his tummy to the blogosphere

I warned him that I would be bringing one of those long dog leads in  future to thwart his near-suicidal tendencies. I don’t usually give you views back as it can be a bit confusing but here’s one I had to share.

Fan Hir on the Cambrian Way, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

At a col called Bwlch Gledd, The Beacons Way joined us again and we had a view down onto the glacially formed  Llyn y Fan Fawr.

Llyn y Fan Fawr, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil was just awestruck

We kept the view of the lake for half a mile,

Llyn y Fan Fawr, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

 As we passed the lake, still climbing, either the cloud level dropped or the extra altitude brought us into the murky sky.

Cambrain Way above Llyn y Fan Fawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

Good pavement

Not far after Bwlch Gledd we passed a carefully constructed shelter….

Shelter near Bwlch Gledd on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. where Neil wanted his picture taking……

Shelter Fan Brycheiniog near on the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

All it needs now is a roof

…… and Paul didn’t.

cambrian-day-12-35

And just the other side of  this, at 2,631 feet was the highest point of the day’s walk -the Trig Point of Fan Brycheiniog, where a snap was required for all of us.

Fan Brycheiniog Trig Point, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Not bad for a selfie

In case you are counting (which I have not been) Fan Brycheiniog is check point 14 of the Cambrian Way.  No one was there to check. At Fan Foel, about half a mile further on there was a cairn from which on a clear day there would have been a fabulous view.

Charles Hawes at Fan Foel on the Cambrian Way

But not today, though as we turned sharply south-west, briefly, and then west, the clouds began to lift, giving us some glimpses of the surrounding countryside.

The Cambrian Way near Fan Foel, photographed by Charles Hawes

We could see enough to know that we were still walking on the top of an escarpment though some of the time we still didn’t see much more than that. What I did see, which was very intriguing, was a long rectangular shaped mound which I could make no sense of but looked man-made.

View from near Fan Foel, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Lovely moss covered rocks

From Fan Foel we had quite a steep descent, only to have to climb back up again to the peak called Picws Du. The descent was marked by a series of wide wooden railings which we took to be an attempt to control path erosion, by pushing us to the side of the obvious track.

Barriers on the descent from Fan Foel, photographed on the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Still doesn’t make much sense to me

If this was their purpose they seemed far wider than they need have been. There were more on the way up.

Barriers on the ascent to Picws Du, photographed on the Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Neil was flagging now but Malvern stuck with him for encouragement

The cloud had all but lifted now and looking back we had a great view of the face of the escarpment….

Escarpment below Picws Du, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Funny that you don’t often see sheep walking on sheep tracks

…. and I zoomed in for another view of my mysterious mound.

mound below Picws Du, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

Does that look natural to you?

With much clearer skies it was really exhilarating to look down on the miles of empty moorland, its surface veined with dozens of small streams.

Moorland of the northern Black Mountain, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

One larger river was marked on the map as Afon Sychlwch and we could see that it was joined by another running into it from the west.

View to Afon Sychlwch from the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

A few minutes later we saw that this second river was in fact a man -made outflow from Llyn y Fan Fach.

cambrian-day-12-55

Our path took the gently descending path along the top of the escarpment called Bannau Sir Gaer.

Bannau Sir Gaer, the Cambrian Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Looking back, here

The escarpment face above the lake has several deep channels formed by rainwater gouging out the gritty soil and soft rock.

View onto Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

These were strangely compelling; I imagined being shooting down them in the winter on a toboggan – alpine skiers do such crazy things standing up and call  it a Black Run.

Our path took a near horse-shoe route above the lake. The view was just fabulous and we all “ooed” and “ahhed” in chorus ………

View onto Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

…….and when the sun dropped below  the clouds and we repeated ourselves with even more enthusiasm, adding several “look at that’s”.

View onto Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It was late afternoon and the distant hills began to recede behind the misty atmosphere.

view from above Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It really was hard to leave such a special spot, but we still had a couple of miles to go and we did not want to end up walking in the dark.

Descending the Cambrian Way from above Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed by Charles Hawes

As descents go it was relatively gentle at first.

Descending the Cambrian Way from above Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed by Charles Hawes

After a last look back at the Llyn….

View onto Llyn y Fan Fach, photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

its extraordinary but no doubt has a very simple explanation as to how the colour of water changes depending on where you look at it from

… the view of the lake was replaced by the more managed countryside of the hillside.

Approaching Llandeusant from above Llyn Fay Fan Fach photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

It was quite steep at the end, Paul leading the way.

Approaching Llandeusant from above Llyn Fay Fan Fach photographed from The Cambrian Way by Charles Hawes

We needed to leave the Beacons Way to retrieve Pauls Car; Mavern’s homing pigeon instinct set us in the right direction and we were soon fording a little stream near the road.

Cambrian Way near Llandeusant photographed by Charles Hawes

It was really quite gloomy when we finally got to the car; not that you would know it from this last pic.

cambrian-day-12-71

A wee bit fuzzy.

What a fantastic finale to our traverse of the Brecon Beacons; I feel so lucky to have such landscape on my doorstep.  It was hard to think that the next few days would be much tamer walking.

It was a twisty, turney route in the car  back to the start of the walk and from there we retreated to the Ancient Briton for a drink and a meal (great beers, good food, friendly staff). Paul celebrated by knocking his pint over the table and my lap. Its a Welsh thing.

 

{ 12 comments }

From Lucca to San Vivaldo, San Gimignano and Abbadia Isola

October 31, 2016
Thumbnail image for From Lucca to San Vivaldo, San Gimignano and Abbadia Isola

Just to re-cap, I had been invited on a press trip via Italian Wonder Ways to be introduced to the pilgrim route called the Via Francigena. This was our second day.  Date: 23rd September 2016 Location: Tuscany, Italy Distance: If  we had been walking on the Via Francigena then this would have been a trek around […]

Read the full article →

An Introduction to the Via Francigena and a walk around Lucca

October 16, 2016
Thumbnail image for An Introduction to the Via Francigena and a walk around Lucca

  Date: 22nd September 2016 Location: Lucca, Tuscany, Italy ******** The back storey The consortium of Italian Wonder Ways (see my tab on the home page) had invited me and 70 journalists and bloggers from all over the world to participate in an introductory week to one of the 5 main pilgrim routes in central […]

Read the full article →

Cambrian Way day 11: Storey Arms to Bwlch Bryn-rhudd

October 2, 2016
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way day 11: Storey Arms to Bwlch Bryn-rhudd

  Date walked: 9th August 2016 Maps used:OS Explorer OL 12 (Brecon Beacons National Park Western Area) Distance: around 10 miles Guide book: Cambrian Way by A J. Drake 7th edition ************** Another day with the three Musketeers (Paul, Neil and me). Leaving Pauls car at the mercy of car thieves, Neil drove the two […]

Read the full article →

Cambrian Way day 10: Cwar Blaen dyffryn quarry to Storey Arms

September 18, 2016
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way day 10: Cwar Blaen dyffryn quarry to Storey Arms

  Date walked: July 6th 2016 Maps used:OS Explorer OL 13 (Brecon Beacons National Park Eastern Area) and OL 12 (Brecon Beacons National Park Western Area) Distance: around 10 miles (but lots of ups and downs) Guide book: Cambrian Way by A J. Drake 7th edition ************** I have quite an ambivalent relationship with camping, […]

Read the full article →

Cambrian Way Day 9: Crickhowell to Cwr Blaen-dyffryn quarry

September 4, 2016
Thumbnail image for Cambrian Way Day 9: Crickhowell to Cwr Blaen-dyffryn quarry

  Date walked: July 5th 2016 Maps used:OS Explorer OL 13 (Brecon Beacons National Park Eastern Area) and OL 12 (Brecon Beacons National Park Western Area) Distance: around 12 miles Guide book: Cambrian Way by A J. Drake 7th edition *************** The three (Paul, Neil and me) of us had decided that if we had […]

Read the full article →

The Knoydart peninsula, Scotland. Day 3

August 21, 2016
Thumbnail image for The Knoydart peninsula, Scotland. Day 3

Date walked: 8th June 2016 Distance: about 12 miles Map used: OS Explorer 413 – Knoydart, Loch Hourn and Loch Duich ****************** I had had quite a decent night in the tent on my level grassy pitch not far from the Inverie River. Decent by camping standards that is, which is never great. After my failed […]

Read the full article →

The Knoydart peninsula, Scotland. Day two

August 7, 2016

Date walked: 7th June 2016 Distance: about 10 miles including the trip to the pub Map used: OS Explorer 413 – Knoydart, Loch Hourn and Loch Duich ******* I didn’t have a great nights sleep.  I never do when camping – there’s just so many factors that make sleeping well unlikely. But an invasion of midgies […]

Read the full article →

The Knoydart peninsula, Scotland: Day 1

July 24, 2016

Date of visit: 6th June 2016 Map used: OS Explorer 413 – Knoydart, Loch Hourn and Loch Duich Distance walked : not many *************** You know when you have that overwhelming  desire to escape, to get away from it all. This was one of those times. I was feeling very stressed from the havoc being […]

Read the full article →
Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)