My favourite section of the eastern Brecon Beacons is the path along Graig Fan Las on the edge of a wonderful glacial valley. The photographs will give you a sense of how breath-taking the views are, not to mention how breath-taking the climb up to it is!
You can get to it on several routes but the loop around Talybont reservoir is a good choice and it was our starting point for our first major trek of 2020. You can drive there via Raglan, Abergavenny and Crickhowell from the cottages. It took about an hour.
We parked by the side of the reservoir and walked across the dam to pick up the Taff Trail, an old railway track which hugs the side of the reservoir and continues gently upwards for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Because the forestry has been cleared the views are fantastic across the water and up to the hills.
There are convenient picnic benches at the bottom of the climb up to Craig y Fan Ddu where we had lunch and then the challenging climb on the Beacons Way passed waterfalls gushing after heavy rain.
Graig Fan Las is a delight on a clear day. Its just under 3k with the path right on the edge of the valley which drops steeply to the side. I have walked it many times in both directions and it never fails to impress.
At the head of the valley there’s a crossroad with great views of Cribyn and Pen-y-Fan to the west. We however turned right along Waun Rydd on newly laid paths across the peaty and sodden terrain.
On the path we met a couple of guys looking for the site of the WW11 Wellington bomber which crashed nearby. There is a memorial and wreckage still visible on the ground below the path we were on and we resolved to visit ourselves soon. Apparently, there is a Remembrance Day service held there every November for the Canadian crew who perished on the hillside.
I will try to attend, pay my respects and blog photos and a report.
Eventually we reached Cairn Pica and the first of 2 sharp descents. After all the rain we have had the bank down would have been treacherous but new stone steps have been laid for most of it although the ones at the top are set at a sharp angle and will be very hazardous in icy conditions. Nonetheless the new path made that descent easier but the second one was slick with water so we picked our way through bracken and got down safely.
We arrived back at the reservoir and car in just under 5 hours having walked 11 miles and climbed 2,600 feet.
We can’t pass through Crickhowell without stopping at the wonderful Bear Hotel where we have spent many hours having a post walk meal and drink. Its roaring fire is as welcoming as the staff and they never complain about muddy boots and even muddier dogs. My two friends Clive and John had a couple of pints and Welsh Rarebits while I enjoyed a hearty soup.
What a great way to end a memorable walk.
If you are interested in exploring Craig Fan Las, visiting the crashed Willington site and the delights of the Bear you can book a guided trip by asking your host John.
Waterfalls in full flow
Down the valley. Wellington Bomber site is on the left hand slope
The new path makes walking across the peaky bog so much easier
Cairn Pica with the Sugar Loaf in the background