For this walk we used: Crimson Short Walks Brecon Beacons (Published 2015) Walk 15: The Taf Fechan Forest. Distance: 4 miles.
This was our very first visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. We have very little experience of walking in the mountains, so we thought we’d ease ourselves in gently with some short family walks.
We parked at Owl’s Grove recreation area. The place was completely deserted, and an eerie mist hung in the air. We put our backpacks on, and almost immediately it began to drizzle, the wind was picking up too, it began sweeping wildly between the Pines. Should we abandon the walk and find a nice cosy café instead? Thoughts of broken limbs, exposure and hypothermia ran through my head. Then I remembered we had come fairly well prepared for this, we even had a lightweight emergency bothy shelter.
We set off up the road, uncertain of what lay ahead. Before long we met two girls, they had no idea where they were going and wanted to know where the waterfalls were. We were heading there for our next walk, so I pointed them in the right direction and told them they would see a carpark on the left about 1km further along the road from where they could pick up the trail. They looked completely unprepared, wearing jeans and hoodies with no waterproofs, no map. It amazes me that people aren’t worried. I had thought of pretty much everything, even emergency boot laces. We turned left up a forest track, and soon they were out of sight. I couldn’t help feeling a bit concerned about them. The mountain hikers slogan “Cotton kills” kept going through my head. I had to stop myself, and instead think “It’s July, and this is just a 4 mile family walk!”
We continued along the forest track which had beautiful views of the Taf Fechan valley, and at last we seemed to be able to enjoy the scenery. I began to see the beauty of the hill fog, and the way it added drama to the landscape. I stopped fighting my ego and struggling with the environment, and relaxed into it.
We climbed down a steep ravine with a stream at the bottom, and stopped for a while to snack on some dried mango. It always seems that you are in the middle of nowhere, but pretty soon a group of teenagers were descending the other side of the ravine. They were doing an activity for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, with oversized backpacks larger than themselves. They looked tired and hungry. We told them the track was easy walking back to the road. We reached the top of the other side, and paused again to look at the map. An elderly man pushed his mountain bike up the steep gorge, it looked hard work. He told us he had been riding that route since he was a young boy, when there was a bridge over the stream.
From there was the promise of wonderful views of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, but on this day the visibility was too low. We walked on towards Lower Neuadd Reservoir, before heading back along the other side of the valley across marshland. It was pretty challenging. Logs had been strategically placed to help you cross the boggy ground, but they were very slippery. Suzy’s feet slipped into the bog a few times. Eventually we joined an easy forest track again which led out to a tarmacked road. The forest here was beautiful and seemed like wilderness.
From the bridge, Pont Cwmyfedwen, there was an attractive woodland path which wound its way alongside the river back to the car. People had camped here leaving behind the scarred remains of campfires, disposable barbecues, beer cans and so on. I’m all for enjoying the outdoors, but I will never understand why people can’t clear up after themselves and keep the countryside as it should be. Even so, it was still very beautiful and a lovely end to an enchanting walk.
Our Rating: 5/5