I started this walk from the Brecon Beacons Visitor Centre, or Mountain Centre as it is known locally, which I have covered in a previous postcard. The advantages of this are dedicated parking, toilet facilities and a shop for food and water. It is £3 to park all day which is cheap, in my humble opinion. It was a bright but bitterly cold and windy day. I was equipped with walking boots, thick socks, outdoor trousers, a breathable outdoor top, fleece, waterproof outdoor coat, bobble hat and gloves. I carried with me a litre of water in a sports bottle as well as a thermos flask with hot tea, along with food and a first aid kit, all in my backpack. I would recommend these as standard for winter walks in the Beacons.
I left the mountain centre car park and turned left, walking in a generally south-westerly direction, back along the entrance road, crossing over and heading down the grassy byway opposite. This takes you alongside farmers field to your left, and open grass to your right. I followed this byway to the end, carefully crossed over the busy A4215, on to the road opposite, which is signed “Forest Lodge Cottages.” I ambled on down this road, went through the gate on the end on to another byway, through the gate and over a stile until I got to an open field with a footpath sign pointing up the hill. There is no obvious footpath, one of the joys you find when the reality on the ground is different to the OS map. I started to make my way uphill past hordes of marauding sheep. At the stile of the top I crossed over and was greeted by a sign telling me I was now on the nature reserve. (There was another path up a bit further on down the track, but this contained several cows and a bull roaming loose. I decided discretion was the better part of valour. A tactical withdrawal, not a retreat, you understand.)
I now looked upwards toward the imposing sight of Fan Frynych. Once again, the map laughably promised a footpath. I saw what appeared to be a path, nowhere near the alleged footpath, and decided to start following it up. It turned out to be a good bet as it soon became a well-worn track of grass and mud with a few paving stones, much easier to ascend than the surrounding moss and long grass. The moss and grass always looks easy to cross. I can assure you it is not, and often hides boggy ground you can sink in to.
As I went up I often paused to take in the scenery, definitely not because I was out of breath, and what a view it was of the surrounding countryside. Rolling plains and then hills and mountains further off. Small streams cut across the path but were easily crossed.
Near to the top of the ridge the path vanished entirely, but by now regular grass was underfoot so I was easily able to find my way to the main ridge line footpath. This again runs southwest towards the summit. As I was at the top I had great views both to the west and now east, where Pen y Fan loomed constantly in the distance.
From herein it was uphill all the way. The top was windy and the wind biting cold at that. I took off my gloves to take pictures on my phone. I managed a maximum of around thirty seconds before my hands were too cold. Finally, near the summit the path levels out and the going is a bit easier. You can then take a good look around without gasping for breath.
The paths are all well laid out and easy to follow. Scrub grass and a small lake dominate, with a few birds hanging in the breeze. I spotted the summit marker, and as I was walking over a wizened old lady who looked about 90 wandered over while walking two dogs. Annoyingly she didn’t even look out of breath as she wished me a good morning. I stopped for some lunch and the thermos flask came in handy. The return journey was simply reversing my route. As I neared the bottom, I saw two people walking up the same route, dressed in jeans and trainers. I had visions that the Mountain Rescue Service would be busy later.
“Craig Cerrig-gleisiad and Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve is a 156 acre (631,000 m²) area of the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. It includes the peaks of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad (629 m: Infogalactic) and Fan Frynych (629 m: ). Craig Cerrig-gleisiad means ‘cliff of the salmon(-coloured) rocks’ and is a cirque formed by a glacier which deposited moraine and created a sheltered environment where the steep crags prevent sheep from accessing the rare Arctic–alpine plants such as purple saxifrage and roseroot and mixed woodland where orchids and anemones flourish. There is scattered scrub woodland and scattered hawthorn on the lower slopes.” –
“The national nature reserve, which is administered by Natural Resources Wales, the successor body to the Countryside Council for Wales, lies within the Fforest Fawr uplands, an area set aside in Norman times for hunting and which remained Crown property until the early nineteenth century. In addition to the flora, there are relatively rare birds such as peregrine falcons, ring ouzels and ravens. Sixteen species of butterfly have been recorded in the area.” –Infogalactic
“Fan Frynych is a subsidiary summit of Fan Fawr in the Fforest Fawr section of the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales. It makes up half of the Craig Cerrig-gleisiad and Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve with its sister peak Craig Cerrig-gleisiad. The summit is marked by a trig point, where the northern face of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad can be viewed.” –Infogalactic
“The outstanding feature of the mountain is the L-shaped glacial cwm which faces to the northeast. Its modern form is considered to be the result of a complex history of both glacial action and rock-slope failure, a portion of the west wall having collapsed after the main part of the last ice age. Some of the debris was re-worked during the Loch Lomond Stadial and parts stretch as far as the A470 road. The rocks exposed in the main crag are Senni Beds of Devonian Old Red Sandstone, topped with Brownstones. The ledges of the main crag to the south have been a favoured nesting site for peregrine falcons.” –Infogalactic
© Jonathon Davies 2018