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Western Black Mountains / 3 days / 37 miles (60km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 27 Apr 2006
Start / Finish: Llangors on the B4560. Small free car park and public toilets in the village centre.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 13 Brecon Beacons National Park.

Day 1Mynydd Troed & Waun Fach8.7 miles / 3410 feet (14.0km / 1039m)
Day 2Pen Twyn Mawr & Pen Allt-mawr13.8 miles / 2600 feet (22.2km / 792m)
Day 3Mynydd Llangorse & Allt yr Esgair14.4 miles / 2050 feet (23.2km / 624m)

A circuit of the Western Black Mountains from Llangors, including three new Marilyns. Our previous and only visit to this area was 10 years ago and we found the two main ridges of this route better than we remembered.

Day 1 - Mynydd Troed & Waun Fach

A narrow lane heads E from the village to the start of the path up Mynydd Troed, the first new Marilyn of the trip and one of the near misses in the mountain list of Wales at 609m. It is a steep direct climb on cropped grass to the trig point which gave extensive views. The continuation path is not shown on the map but descends steeply northwards to meet the bridleway track to Pengenffordd on the A479.

Llyn Llangorse and The Beacons from Mynydd Troed
Llyn Llangorse and The Beacons from Mynydd Troed (27 Apr 2006__10:52:57)
Mynydd Llangorse from Mynydd Troed
Mynydd Llangorse from Mynydd Troed (27 Apr 2006__11:00:16)
The Beacons from Mynydd Troed
The Beacons from Mynydd Troed (27 Apr 2006__11:36:56)

A lane opposite rounds Castell Dinas and becomes a bridleway that arrives at a junction of paths at the foot of the open hillside. As it turned out, the most satisfying line of ascent would have been the path directly up the ridge to Bwlch Bach a'r Grib, but we took the contouring farm track NE around the base and joined the main path to Y Grib further round. Beyond Y Grib the path ascends gently around the edge of Cwm y Nant and we left it for a short pathless climb to the main ridge path. An easy walk SE is Waun Fach, a flat desolate peaty plateau with a trig point that appears to have landed head first in the mire, an undistinguished top for one of the most prominent mountains in Wales!.

Summit of Waun Fach
Summit of Waun Fach (27 Apr 2006__14:49:41)

Weaving a tortuous line through the boggy bits, we soon picked up the path that continues to Pen y Gadair Fawr, which deceptively appears significantly higher than Waun Fach and continues to do so from most of this route. We made our first pitch here and descended to collect very good water at the head of the Gargwy Fach stream.

Waun Fach from Pen y Gadair Fawr
Waun Fach from Pen y Gadair Fawr (27 Apr 2006__15:34:14)

Day 2 - Pen Twyn Mawr & Pen Allt-mawr

After a breezy night the tops were clear for the walk along the ridge. The remaining top Pen Twyn Mawr just manages separate mountain status, but is incidental on this enjoyable 4½ mile high-level section to the last outpost of Crug Mawr, whose 550m trig point marks the start of the descent SW. A good easy track descends to a path junction, where a gate bearing a 'Beacons Way' marker gives access to a permitted bridleway through the woodland that joins the lane below further S than the marked right-of-way on the map. A footpath drops from the lane to Upper Cwm Bridge and into Llanbedr, which has litter bins and a drinking water tap.

Dawn sky from Pen y Gadair Fawr
Dawn sky from Pen y Gadair Fawr (28 Apr 2006__05:59:43)
Pen Cerrig-calch & Pen Allt-mawr
Pen Cerrig-calch & Pen Allt-mawr (28 Apr 2006__07:33:34)
Pen y Gadair Fawr ridge from Pen Twyn Mawr
Pen y Gadair Fawr ridge from Pen Twyn Mawr (28 Apr 2006__07:51:20)
Pen y Gadair Fawr ridge from Crug Mawr
Pen y Gadair Fawr ridge from Crug Mawr (28 Apr 2006__09:16:07)

From the lane W of Llanbedr, a signed footpath climbs past Perth-y-pia to the hill fort of Crug Hywel, Table Mountain, which has a cairn and windshelter on its tilted top. A clear path descends from the highest point to join the main path to Pen Cerrig-calch, and a spring on the lower slopes provided excellent water. The dark peat surrounding the summit area contrasts starkly with the profusion of white rocks, which formed the material for an ancient cairn and now a large windshelter. Pen y Gadair Fawr still appeared to dominate the opposite ridge. With almost all the ascent conquered, it is an easy and attractive walk along the ridge, first to the highest top Pen Allt-mawr and round to the minor top of Pen Twyn Glas.

Pen Cerrig-calch summit plateau
Pen Cerrig-calch summit plateau (28 Apr 2006__13:38:40)
Pen y Gadair Fawr from Pen Cerrig-calch
Pen y Gadair Fawr from Pen Cerrig-calch (28 Apr 2006__13:45:05)
Pen Allt-mawr & Waun Fach from the ridge
Pen Allt-mawr & Waun Fach from the ridge (28 Apr 2006__14:05:34)
Waun Fach from tilted trig point on Pen Allt-mawr
Waun Fach from tilted trig point on Pen Allt-mawr (28 Apr 2006__14:47:02)
Waun Fach & raven from Pen Allt-mawr
Waun Fach & raven from Pen Allt-mawr (28 Apr 2006__14:47:43)

This was the Friday before a bank holiday weekend, but there were several groups of people about, a couple of which seemed from a distance to be guided walks for the terminally slow. We were intending to pitch further along the ridge and we were scratching our heads trying to work out their intentions, as they stopped for a while at frequent intervals while one of them would descend the slopes and return before carrying on, perhaps trying to find a direct route down. Eventually they all disappeared and we made our pitch on the final flat top of Mynydd Llysiau. We were entranced by the appearance of a red kite that glided along the edge of the slopes close to the tent, its distinctive grey head and russet body standing out clearly.

Pitch on Mynydd Llysiau & Pen y Gadair Fawr beyond
Pitch on Mynydd Llysiau & Pen y Gadair Fawr beyond (28 Apr 2006__17:14:05)

Day 3 - Mynydd Llangorse & Allt yr Esgair

It was a surprisingly cold night with a light frost on the tent, and as we set off along the ridge a cap of mist was spilling over the upper slopes of Waun Fach. At the bwlch, an excellent track hairpins back S and turns W to descend to the A479 at Pont Waun-fach. A footpath leads S to Upper Pentrebach where the line is now diverted uphill before the buildings to meet the lane. Walking NE past Pencaeau Farm to the unfenced road, we climbed very steeply L up the stubbly side of Pen Tir to the small lake on the edge, a very attractive spot where we took a well earned rest.

Pen Tir from descent track
Pen Tir from descent track (29 Apr 2006__07:02:40)
Lake on Pen Tir with Mynydd Troed beyond
Lake on Pen Tir with Mynydd Troed beyond (29 Apr 2006__08:51:36)

Pen Tir is a minor sub-top of Mynydd Llangorse, and an excellent grass track traverses the hill and curves R to the northern edge of the main top, whose summit is the spot-height 515m in an area of stunted heather. The track continues S to the 506m trig point and descends to another spring which yielded excellent water, much appreciated later in the very warm afternoon. After a very pleasant and easy walk S to the track junction at 155232, we turned R and descended to the B4560.

Orange bracken on Mynydd Llangorse
Orange bracken on Mynydd Llangorse (29 Apr 2006__09:09:36)

A lane heads W and forks SW to the entrance to Middlewood Farm, which has an onsite shop and a proud notice announcing 'The Welsh Venison Centre'. If there had been any way of keeping the produce fresh we would certainly have indulged ourselves!. The signed bridleway L of the entrance is enclosed by trees and bushes and muddy at first, but quickly improved to become an attractive woodland type of path with many Spring flowers that emerged at open fields where it forked. The pathless L fork climbs diagonally up the field to join a good track and the views open out to the Brecon Beacons. This is the attractive ridge of Allt yr Esgair, bedecked with a profusion of flowering gorse and an easy grassy path that leads directly to the summit. There is an information board set into the wall with a picture showing and naming the visible Black Mountain tops to the E.

View over the Usk valley from Allt yr Esgair
View over the Usk valley from Allt yr Esgair (29 Apr 2006__13:09:26)

We descended the path northwards and turned L to Pennorth. Through the hamlet we took the lane and footpath NE towards Llyn Llangorse, initially a farm track but this ends at a scrubby area shortly before arriving at a waymarked gate at 122268. The footpath across the fields to the sailing club and lakeside car park is easily discerned from the line of stiles, but it crosses what might be described as the flood plain of the lake, not bad today but likely to be very wet and muddy after rain. A short walk up the access road is the village centre and car park.