Walk 1123 - printer friendly version
The Brecon Beacons from the Taf Fechan Forest Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 8.5 miles / 13.8 km
Ascent - 2115 feet / 641 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference SO035173
Lat 51.84593 + Long -3.4022623
Postcode CF48 2UT (approx. location only)
This is an ideal walk for those wanting an introduction to the highest land in the Brecon Beacons and uses a relatively unfrequented approach to Pen y Fan avoiding most of the crowds trudging up from Storey Arms on the A470 Merthyr to Brecon road. The drive in contrasts to the idea that this area is heavily urbanised.
From the main A465 (Heads of the Valleys road) at Merthyr Tydfil we took the road on the west side of the Pontsticill Reservoir into the Taf Fechan Forest. Turning off towards the Upper Neuadd Reservoir we parked at grid ref. SO035173 where there is adequate parking. This was probably one of the sunniest days of the year yet parking was relatively easy.
After parking your car, walk north along the lane to the Filter House and head west across the abandoned dam wall. Cross into open country and climb steeply up the north side of the plantation to gain the edge just north of the 642m. triangulation point. Turning north along the edge you can set a cracking pace. To your right is the Upper Neuadd Reservoir whilst ahead lie the summits, which are your objectives for your walk.
The edge walk is reminiscent of the Kinder Plateau although the red sandstone is unfamiliar and provides a pleasant change to the gritstone of the more northerly upland areas of England. After walking along the top of the cliffs of Graig Fan Ddu you reach a nice section where the ridge narrows offering good views to your left into Nant Crew.
Corn Du is the first summit to be topped and this is an easy proposition offering excellent views in all directions particularly to the north to Brecon and the rolling hills of Central Wales. It is only now that you are able to inspect the steep escarpments that face north. Partly grassed these steep cliffs fall over one thousand feet to the u-shaped valleys below. Also evident are the excellent approaches from the north along the ridges separating the valleys.
Pen y Fan (2906 ft./ 886 m.) is the highest point in South Wales and therefore the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is only a short easy walk from Corn Du and provides an excellent viewpoint east along the escarpment. Easy access from Storey Arms makes it a popular excursion and unless the weather is bad you can not expect to have the summit to yourself.
Although the going is not hard there are some steep ascents and descents made more tiring by the lack of immediate interest underfoot. From Pen y Fan continue along the escarpment edge to Cribyn the next summit on the round. Reaching Bwlch ar y Fan you have a choice. If time and energy permit you can make the 500 foot climb to the summit of Fan y Big or follow the easily graded path south to the starting point of the walk.