The Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre, known locally as the Mountain Centre, is not far from the village of Libanus as you drive up the A470 towards the town of Brecon. The drive up itself is spectacular as you pass through the Beacons national park, past the many cars (illegally) parked at the Storey Arms outdoor centre, taking in Pen-Y-Fan and several reservoirs. A rather small and winding road takes you to the centre itself.
Brecon Beacons. pic.twitter.com/nq4GgtEqiV
— Jonathon "knuckle dragger" Davies (@JonD99) July 23, 2018
From here there are a number of walking routes ranging from very easy to almost suicidal Jedi level 40km yomps. I took a fairly moderate 8 mile trek. Don’t be fooled by the cloud cover in the photos, it was a balmy and very humid 25 degrees at least. Numerous notices pointed out that the fire risk was now severe and I could just see smoke from a grass fire rising from a distant peak.
Much of the landscape, as I learned in A level Geography, is the results of glaciation and erosion over numerous ice ages. Amazingly, the climate can cool down and warm up without any human interference. Glaciers formed in northerly slopes, then spread out down the valleys carving out large swathes of earth and rock. This is why the valleys are so wide in comparison to the rivers that flow through them.
I set off from the car park and crossed over Myndd Iltud which is a common purchased by the National Park to conserve the open space. “The common is an undulating plateau lying between 330 and 370 metres (1,080 and 1,210 ft) above sea level. Its highest points are 381 metres (1,250 ft) at Allt Lom and 367 metres (1,204 ft) at Twyn y Gaer trig point overlooking the valley of the River Usk.”-Wikipedia
The trig point Twyn-y-Gaer has spectacular views across the commons and surrounding valleys and hills. It has the remains of an iron age hill fort. As you can see from the photos the elevation and steep sides provide an excellent natural defence and vantage point, and a ditch or ditches would have been dug around the fort at the time it was in use.
I then walked back over the common and proceeded down the road. It was extremely quiet and a grand total of 3 cars passed in about an hour. Many a sheep was loose on the common and in the surrounding fields (steady now) which ran off at the first sight or sound. A lot of the land is scrub and ferns. various animals and birds jump out and shriek as you pass by which provides entertainment.
Small farmhouses are dotted about here and there, with smoke gently billowing from their chimney stacks. There was a bit of background noise of a tractor or some other farm machinery buzzing away from time to time. I eventually branched off on to a small footpath which crossed a nature reserve. Various types of bird abounded. Don’t ask me to name any. As I went fairly early in the day there wasn’t a soul about for about 90% of the time. It is somehow quite refreshing to look around for miles and not see another person.
What’s the enormous great mountain lurking in many of the photos, you ask? That would be Pen-y-Fan. “Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du at 873 m (2,864 ft) were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or ‘Arthur’s Seat.’ The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales’ peaks. The mountain is used by the military as part of the selection process of the UK’s Special Forces personnel.”-Wikipedia
I will be leaving that one for another day…
© Jonathon Davies 2018