Millie & Suzy

Follow our walking adventures around the Cotswolds & beyond


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Walk from Libanus Mountain Centre, Brecon Beacons National Park

 

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Mynydd Illtud Common, Brecon Beacons – July 2016

 

For this walk we used: Crimson Short Walks Brecon Beacons (Published 2015) Walk 7: Mynydd Illtud. Distance: 2.75 miles.

The walk starts from the Libanus Mountain Centre pay and display carpark on the edge of the Mynydd Illtud Common nature reserve. From here we walked across the common and up the hill to the ramparts of an Iron Age fort. From the trig point on a clear day you can see Pen y Fan and Corn Du, the highest mountains in the whole of Southern Britain.

Visibility was low, so we didn’t get to see as much of the surrounding vistas as we had hoped, although the cloud lifted briefly towards the end.

I felt very over-prepared for this walk, carrying our full walking gear, some people were milling about on the common in shorts and t-shirts! In fact it would have been fine just to carry a waterproof jacket. Definitely no lightweight emergency bothy shelters are needed here 🙂 Certainly not in July anyway.

On returning to Libanus mountain centre, we visited the shop and café. We just missed lunch, but had tea, a slice of homemade Victoria Sponge cake, and a Welsh cake. We sat outside at a picnic table, and the hill fog cleared just enough that we caught a glimpse of Pen-y-Fan.

This is an easy stroll complete with facilities, and it would be a great family day out. However, it wasn’t our favourite as the crowds caused it to lack a wilderness feel.

Our Rating: 3/5

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Caerfanell River Trail and Waterfalls, Brecon Beacons National Park

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Caerfanell Waterfall, Brecon Beacons – July 2016

 

For this walk we used: Crimson Short Walks Brecon Beacons (Published 2015) Walk 1: Blaen-y-glyn. Distance: 1.5 miles.

We were tired after our morning of walking in the Taf Fechan Forest, but after a picnic lunch we decided to go ahead with the short waterfall trail as we were already so near. We parked at the lower carpark next to the bridge Pont Blaen-y-glyn, and joined the uphill track into the woods.

A huge Pine tree had fallen blocking the way to grotto at the first waterfall, we attempted to climb over and around it, but still didn’t manage to see the magical cave. We continued steeply uphill to view more waterfalls, but they were mostly hidden from view by thick undergrowth. Retracing our steps back to the main path, we met a couple who were lost. They were looking for their car which they had parked in the Upper Blaen-y-glyn carpark. I was fairly sure it was further up the steep path we had just descended and pointed them in that direction. It was the only path they hadn’t tried. I could see how they were confused, as it was a bit of a muddle of pathways.

We dropped down to the bridge over the Caerfanell River, where we got our first sighting of the spectacular Caerfanell Falls. I gathered the pool at the bottom of the waterfall was very full, making the waterfall seem shorter than usual. We made our way carefully over the slippery rocks to get a closer view, before returning to the bridge. A local man talked to us for a while. He had been wild swimming further down the river, and told us there was a stunning walk with a wrecked Canadian plane and a memorial further up beyond the waterfall. Apparently, the Wellington bomber R1645 came down in bad weather, following a routine training flight on 6 July 1942. The twisted dull grey warplane wreckage, lies strewn around the bracken covered hillside below the cairn.

We climbed up a precariously narrow path to the top of the waterfall, before turning back and continuing back down the river-bank. It took us a while to return to the car as there were so many pretty cascades that we kept stopping to look at. It was a wonderful picture as Pont Blaen-y-glyn came into view. This is a walk that I will remember for a long time.

Our Rating: 5/5

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Taf Fechan Forest Trail, Brecon Beacons National Park

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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

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