Glorious Carmarthen Fans

Hewitts: Bannau Sir Gaer - Picws Du, Fan Brycheiniog, Fan Hir

Date walked: 25/08/2019

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 16.4km

Ascent: 802m

So I'm a little bit late getting to writing this report, mainly because I've been preoccupied with packing up all my things, moving to London and starting my grad job - who would have thought that post uni life would be so hectic? Not to worry however, as the memories of this fabulous day out will surely remain in the memory for a long time!

After glancing at the forecast and noticing that South Wales would be bathed in glorious sunshine over the weekend, mum and dad suggested we head up to the Black Mountain and climb the Carmarthen Fans - a walk which they had done together many years earlier when I was a lot younger and much less enthusiastic about this hill bagging malarkey... Having not done any serious hill walking since June and having since spent many an evening planning trips away to the hills, I was well up for the idea. After convincing Martha to join us, we set off with the dog in tow, arriving at the Llyn y Fan Fach car park and setting off at around 2:15 (a little bit later than anticipated but no bother).

The route started with a gentle ascent up the winding gravel path to Llyn y Fan Fach (which for all you non Welsh speakers out there translates to Little Lake of the Summit). There were some man made water features on the way where we met a couple of families cooling off in the pools by the side of the approach path. Mum, Martha and Gwen were also feeling the effect of the heat and were a lot slower than dad and I. It was quite a pull up to Llyn y Fan Fach but we were eventually rewarded when the steep slopes of Picws Du came into view. Before setting off on the climb up to the ridge, we stopped for a spot of lunch on the banks of Llyn y Fan Fach. Mum went swimming to cool off while the rest of us enjoyed the views of the surroundings, which were immense even from below the ridge. After our lunch of cheese and coleslaw sandwiches, crisps, cucumber, carrots, hummus, melon and chocolate, we set off up the path to the ridge.

Water features on the route up to Llyn y Fan Fach (1/2)

Water features on the route up to Llyn y Fan Fach (2/2)

Looking back down the gravel path

Picws Du coming into view (1/2)

Picws Du coming into view (2/2)

On the shore of Llyn y Fan Fach (1/2)

On the shore of Llyn y Fan Fach (2/2)

Gwen enjoying the water

As we steadily climbed, the views got better and better, with vast expanses of Welsh countryside opening out below us. Llyn y Fan Fach looked incredible from a bird's eye view! The trade off for the views, pleasantly warm temperature and still conditions was the colossal swarm of flying ants that we walked into as we gained altitude, there were hundreds of the little beasts! We pushed through them though and reached the plateau fairly soon after starting off. Not long after that and we reached the summit cairn of Waun Lefrith, our first Nuttall of the day! By now the views were panoramic with numerous sight lines to the rest of the Brecon Beacons. I tapped the cairn and added my stone before taking in the views once more. This was shaping up to be an epic day.

The ascent to the ridge (1/3)

The ascent to the ridge (2/3)

The ascent to the ridge (3/3)

The summit cairn of Waun Lefrith in the distance

Waun Lefrith summit with Brecon Beacons in the background

After waiting a while for the rest of the family to catch up and stopping for some food, we set off once more for the hulking mass of Picws Du - our second Carmarthen fan of the day and our first Hewitt. The walk to the summit was pretty straightforward and the ascent very gentle. Gwen seemed to be enjoying herself on the hills - I was worried her little legs wouldn't be able to cope! The swarms of flying ants had abated for a while which allowed us some time to take in the views of the sprawling Welsh countryside below us. As I approached the summit to carry out the usual duties though another swarm appeared... Rather than brave it, I chucked a rock at the cairn and quickly retreated to a safe distance. While I waited I'd occasionally pluck up the courage to peak over the edge to the ground below - it was going to be a steep descent from here! The views back to Llyn y Fan Fach from the summit were awesome!

Picws Du from Waun Lefrith

Walking to Picws Du with Gwen

Big drop to the ground from here!

Looking to Picws Du

Llyn y Fan Fach from Picws Du

Mum, dad, Martha and Gwen soon joined us and we stopped for some more snacks. The original plan was to take the descent path from the bealach between Picws Du and Fan Foel back to Llyn y Fan Fach but I'd already decided that I'd be carrying on to bag a few more summits as there was plenty of light left. After convincing mum that I'd be fine and promising not to fall off a mountain, we set off down the shoulder of Picws Du to the bealach. Once we reached the bottom we parted ways with dad, mum, Martha and Gwen taking the descent route as I headed on alone up the flank of Fan Foel. It was a steep, thigh-crushing ascent and I was panting heavily by the time I reached level ground. The views looking back however were immense. Mercifully the flying ants seemed to be avoiding this part of the hills and the crowds of people we'd met at the start were nowhere to be seen. After plodding across the plateau for while and coming across a decidedly sad looking cairn, I eventually found the true summit of Fan Foel. I carried out the usual duties and took in the views once more - three out of three Carmarthen fans summited now. My eyes however were drawn to Fan Brycheiniog in the distance...

Looking back to Picws Du

Route up to Fan Foel

Sad cairn, don't think this is the true summit...

Summit of Fan Foel

Looking over to Fan Brycheiniog

As I headed across the plateau towards my next peak some glorious views opened out all around me, notably Llyn y Fan Fach's larger cousin Llyn y Fan Fawr (Big Lake of the Summit). After a straightforward walk to the top of Fan Brycheiniog I tapped the summit trig and took in the immense views - Hewitt number two completed. This is the highest point on Black Mountain and with the clear conditions I could see miles and miles of Welsh landscape all around me with some cracking views over to the rest of the Brecon Beacons and the Gower peninsula. Soon enough my eyes were drawn to the distinctive ridged shape of Fan Hir - my next and final summit for the day. There was a wind shelter on the summit which looked interesting but I wasn't focussed on that right now so I set off down the shoulder of Fan Brycheiniog - the path was steep and I wasn't looking forward to the climb back up. I met a couple of other walkers on my way down. They were just heading up from Llyn y Fan Fawr and looked out of breath already!

Llyn y Fan Fawr (1/2)

Llyn y Fan Fawr (2/2)

Fan Brycheiniog trig point

Fan Brycheiniog wind shelter

Looking down to Fan Hir

I reached the bealach bewteen Fan Brycheiniog and Fan Hir. I could hear some campers down on the shore of Llyn y Fan Fawr - I fine spot to set up camp indeed. Otherwise there was not a soul in sight. I headed up the shoulder of Fan Hir - I was tired by this point and my legs didn't thank me for the exertion but I reached the top without too much trouble. At the summit I sat down for some more melon and chocolate and took in the views once more - Hewitt number three bagged. I was pretty sweaty by now and Llyn y Fan Fawr looked so inviting for a dip. Eventually I forced myself up - I was still tired but I knew mum, dad, Martha and Gwen would be waiting for me at Llyn y Fan Fach so I retraced my steps back down to the bealach. Other than a lone fell runner I never saw anyone on top of Fan Hir. The reascent up Fan Brycheiniog was tough but went quicker than I anticipated and I was soon standing by the trig point once more. The wind had picked up now and the light was beginning to fade. I tested out the wind shelter and had some more snacks before heading back towards Fan Foel.

Fan Hir

Fell runner on Fan Hir

View from Fan Hir summit

Looking back to Fan Brycheiniog

View from the wind shelter on Fan Brycheiniog

After retracing my steps over Fan Foel, Picws Du soon came into view again. I was enjoying the view of the summit from this perspective - it was looking very looming and ominous in the fading light. I pushed on towards the bealach between Fan Foel and Picws Du where I would rejoin the descent path back to Llyn y Fan Fach. A little way down the slope I met a fellow walker taking a breather.

"Have you met the flying ants yet?"
"Oh yes!"
"There's a lot more of them to come!"

Perfect, just what I needed to hear :lol:

Picws Du looking ominous

After descending the flank of Fan Foel I soon reached the bealach and spotted the descent route taken by the rest of my family a little while earlier. After taking in the views once more I headed off. It was an easy descent with some great views back to the hills. The flying ants hadn't decided to reemerge either which was a real blessing! After a bit of trudging through the Welsh countryside Llyn y Fan Fach soon came into view and so did mum, dad, Martha and Gwen. I was pretty hot by now and took a much needed refreshing dip in the lake. It was wonderfully cool!

Looking back up the descent route (1/2)

Looking back up the descent route (2/2)


An evening dip in Llyn y Fan Fach

I was soon out and dressed and we were heading off down the gravel path back to the car. The great views all around never gave way for a second. After a quick change of clothes in the car we headed off to the pub (can't remember the name) for a well deserved burger and pint of Gower Power and then it was off home.

Walking back to the car

Veggie burger and chips, yum!

All in all an epic round of five summits, great weather and awe-inspiring views all round. I do hope this part of the world stays out of the limelight - it was glorious being able to walk in such beauty with total tranquility all around. I will certainly be coming back to this part of the world very soon. But until then - over and out!

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Stob Invercarnaig & Stob Coire an Lochain

Attachment(s) Date walked: 10/06/2019
Distance: 16.1km
Ascent: 1050m
Comments: 2
Views: 251


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