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Fan y Big & Waun Rydd, Chwarel y Fan

Fan y Big & Waun Rydd, Chwarel y Fan


Postby poppiesrara » Sun May 29, 2011 7:47 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Chwarel y Fan, Waun Rydd

Date walked: 25/05/2011

Time taken: 4.25

Distance: 19.25 km

Ascent: 1030m

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A first trip back to the Brecon Beacons for some time, on a rare nice day this month... This short circuit of the Caerfanell valley, taking in the summits of Fan y Big and Waun Rydd, is a pleasant and varied route, with the steep climbs and escarpment walking typical of the area mixed with green woodlands and tumbling falls.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Almost all walks in the Beacons seem to involve a very steep ascent before the easy ridge walking starts, and this one is no exception, although the path up to Craig y Fan Ddu is very well-made and makes quite light work of it. From there it’s an easy couple of miles along the tops to the ridge of Fan Y Big (looking nowhere near as dramatic from this side as it does looking up steeply from below Cribyn...) with good views – even through a slightly hazy day – opening up to the dramatic sharp shapes of the higher Beacons to the west.
2 Pant y Creigiau over Caerfanell valley.jpg
Pant y Creigiau over Caerfanell valley

6 Waun Rydd from Craig y Fan Ddu.jpg
Waun Rydd from Craig y Fan Ddu

12 Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn & Fan y Big from Craig Cwareli.jpg
Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn & Fan y Big from Craig Cwareli

14 Craig Cwareli.jpg
Craig Cwareli

22 Cwn Cynwyn from Fan y Big.jpg
Cwm Cynwyn from Fan y Big

Typical Beacons walking after that, following a good path along the escarpment edges and over Bwylch y Ddwyallt with lovely views of the cliffs and valleys below, although once you strike out east through the peat-hags to the flat and featureless summit area of Waun Rydd things deteriorate a little. In an area full of lovely hills, this definitely isn’t the best of them...
24 Craig Cwareli & Craig Cwmoergwm from Fan y Big.jpg
Craig Cwareli & Craig Cwmoergwm from Fan y Big

26 Upper Neuadd Reservoir.jpg
Upper Neuadd Reservoir

31 Bwlch y Ddwyallt.jpg
Bwlch y Ddwyallt

32 Fan y Big ridge with Corn Du, Pen y Fan & Cribyn behind.jpg
Fan y Big ridge with Corn Du, Pen y Fan & Cribyn behind

34 Cwm Cwareli from Bwlch y Ddwyallt.jpg
Cwm Cwareli from Bwlch y Ddwyallt

But even Waun Rydd has a nice south-western edge to walk along, before the very steep descent (just about the right side of discomforting, at least in dry conditions) to the Caerfanell valley. Although the path is steep and a little tricky in places, the walk down through the woods beside the river, tumbling over little rocky edges and through tranquil pools, is terrific. Climbing steeply back up again to the car-park, there are more falls to admire – although riddled this day with what looked like a school party on a fairly hair-raising activity trip... Most of this seemed to involve trying to climb up the middle of the falls before being swept screaming down over the rocks!
42 Waun Rydd descent path.jpg
Waun Rydd descent path

44 Back to Waun Rydd.jpg
Back to Waun Rydd

46 Caerfanell falls.jpg
Caerfanell falls

48 Caerfanell falls.jpg
Caerfanell falls

52 Nant Bwrefwr falls.jpg
Nant Bwrefwr falls


Afterwards, a short walk up Chwarel y Fan, which I had managed to miss out while walking the rest of the Black Mountains last year.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Again, as so often in the Beacons, the path up from the hamlet of Capel y Ffin is very clear and quite well-managed, with rocks now filling what may have been an eroded muddy track before. Pleasant views all around, with more green and less moorland than some of this area, and a straightforward walk up to and along the fairly defined summit ridge – you can look over much of the Black Mountains range from here.
56 Ascent from Capel y Ffin to Y Fan.jpg
Ascent from Capel y Ffin to Y Fan

59 Vale of Ewyas between Black Mountain and Chwarel y Fan north face.jpg
Vale of Ewyas between Black Mountain and Chwarel y Fan north face

67 Crug Mawr over Mynydd Du forest from Chwarel y Fan.jpg
Sugar Loaf over Mynydd Du forest from Chwarel y Fan

69 Twmpa & Black Mountain from Chwarel y Fan.jpg
Twmpa & Black Mountain from Chwarel y Fan

71 Pen y Gadair Fawr & Waun Fach from Chwarel y Fan.jpg
Pen y Gadair Fawr & Waun Fach from Chwarel y Fan

The map seems to defy any thought of making a good circular of this, but the path back down into the beautiful vale below is at least one well worth retreading...
73 Chwarel y Fan descent path.jpg
Chwarel y Fan descent path

75 Tarren yr Esgob & Nant Bwch valley.jpg
Tarren yr Esgob & Nant Bwch valley

78 Darren Lwyd.jpg
Darren Lwyd
Last edited by poppiesrara on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fan y Big & Waun Rydd, Chwarel y Fan

Postby Red Peak » Mon May 30, 2011 10:24 pm

Nice report and photos, poppiesrara ... :thumbup:

The Brecon Beacons is an area I've never been walking in. It's always looked very tempting, and your photos have only served to confirm that opinion. The ridges look great for just striding-out on and admiring the views. The paths look pretty well-worn and easy to follow, too. I'm guessing this must be a very popular area, and I can imagine it being heaving up there at weekends! Still, at least there shouldn't be any school parties around then ... :D

What was the wind-strength like when you were up there? I was up Mynydd Mawr (which, admittedly, is many miles to the north) on the same day, and it was pretty blowy up there to say the least. It was even strong down in the car park at Rhyd-Ddu. Not that I'm complaining, as it was a beautiful, clear day with fantastic views ... 8)
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Re: Fan y Big & Waun Rydd, Chwarel y Fan

Postby malky_c » Tue May 31, 2011 1:23 pm

Some nice photos in there - the Black Mountains look a bit Yorkshire Dales-esque.

I once headed over to Craig Cwareli from the Storey Arms via Pen y Fan, but got bored of the haggy ground, so didn't go all the way to Waun Rydd. That's pretty much the sum total of my walking in South Wales - tended to head to the lakes instead when looking for somewhere different from Snowdonia.

Enjoying your reports. Picking off Hewitts seems to lead to some interesting route choices that I hadn't considered before.
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Re: Fan y Big & Waun Rydd, Chwarel y Fan

Postby poppiesrara » Tue May 31, 2011 8:26 pm

Thanks, both.

Not sure about the Dales comparison, Malky, as my experience of them is at the same level as Red Peak's of the Beacons! The Black Mountains seem boggier/peatier than the western Beacons (I think the 'Black' is meant to come from the soil? - you can believe it on the top of Waun Fach or Black Mountain), but you're right that Waun Rydd is much the worst of the latter.

I love the Beacons generally, Red Peak, and you're right about the striding nature of the walking and the standard of the pathing (almost universally much better than, anything but the honeypots in, Snowdonia). But it isn't really that busy at all. Apparently Pen y Fan can be something of a magnet at times, but we walked it late on a sunny July Saturday afternoon and saw at most a dozen others, so it's hardly Snowdon! I'd say that (in a circuit with Corn Du, Cribyn, and probably Fan y Big from the reservoir to the south) would be one of the star walks if you're looking for a place to start; another perhaps being the Picws Du/Carmarthen Fan ridge from the west (that's stunning and probably a bit quieter, but - or because - it's a hell of a drive to get to the start...). If you want to add something else (to either) to justify the journey, then the 2-3m circuit of Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad and the cwm below, from the layby to the east, is spectacular.

Not much wind last Wednesday, by the way, gusts but nothing uncomfortable - had been toying with the high Carneddau that day, but bottled it and went for the Beacons after seeing the forecast up there! Hope you enjoyed Mynydd Mawr, it's a cracking walk.
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