The highest mountain in Fforest Fawr & Craig Cerrig-gleisiad National Nature Reserve
DISTANCE: 6.9 MILES, ASCENT: 618 METRES
Includes picnic lunch, expert guiding by a mountain leader/geologist, and pick up from Abergavenny station or your local accommodation
Duration: 10am - 6pm
Number of places: 1-6 (or more if using your vehicle)
£52 PER PERSON
(Based on 2 people, price is reduced with more people. We will run the tour with only one person for £78. Full pricing info is on our Booking and Prices page)
Fforest Fawr was once a hunting area known as the Great Forest of Brecknock. It is a wild and empty area lying between the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain/Y Mynydd Du. The area also lends its name to the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Geopark which was established in 2015. This walk is in the easternmost part of Fforest Fawr, adjacent to the the Brecon Beacons, and takes in Fforest Fawr's highest peak, Fan Fawr, as well as the spectacularly glacially eroded amphitheater of Craig Cerrig-gleisiad.
Craig Cerrig-gleisiad National Nature Reserve
Craig Cerrig-gleisiad National Nature Reserve, with the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du in the background
The summit of Fan Fawr, the highest mountain in Fforest Fawr
The view from the summit of Fan Fawr looking down on Storey Arms and across to Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons
Looking down on a glacial moraine and south down the Taf Valley from Fan Fawr
The walk starts at a layby off the main A470 road, and heads into Craig Cerrig-gleisiad. This Welsh name means the 'place of the salmon-coloured rocks'. Craig Cerrig-gleisiad is both a National Nature Reserve and a site of great geological interest. The main amphitheater, or 'cwm', was carved by the Devensian Ice Sheet 20,000 years ago. This ice sheet covered the whole National Park and stretched north to Scotland and Scandinavia. When the ice retreated there was a large landslide. Then 10,000 years ago at the very end of the Ice Age in there was a re-advance of smaller localised glaciers, including in Craig Cerrig-gleisiad. This ice reworked the part of the landslide into a moraine which is clearly visible on our walk.
The area is a National Nature Reserve because rare arctic-alpine plants are found in the gullies of its steep crags. There are also around 80 bird species in the reserve, of which nearly 30 breed here. Skylarks, meadow pipit, buzzard, red kite, kestrel and peregrine falcon are often spotted.
After taking time to examine the beautiful moraines and wildlife, we take a short and steep ascent up the head-wall of the cwm and arrive at the summit of Fan Frynych. Here we have great views over Fforest Fawr and the adjacent Brecon Beacons. We then head south, passing along the top of the Craig- Cerrig-gleisiad head-wall, before striking out across open moor towards Fan Fawr. The views east are dominated by the majestic peaks of Corn Du and Pen-y-Fan, though our route is far quieter than the busy routes up to those peaks. Eventually we reach Fan Fawr and from its summit have superb views of the surrounding area. We then head down to Storey Arms, once a coaching station but now an outdoor activity centre, and head back to our start point via a track down the Tarrel Valley.