A long weekend away with my parents who live on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park gave me the opportunity to walk in a different area than usual. Having my father on hand meant that I could rely on someone else to do the driving and ferry me to starting points and back from the finish.

I headed up into the Black Mountain (not to be confused with the Black Mountains found on the eastern side of the national park) and the peak of Fan Brycheiniog. This was a fascinating walk that makes me yearn to learn more about the geology of the British Isles. Walking parallel to the steep escarpment of Fan Hir, I wondered at the sheer geological forces that shaped this landscape over many millennia. As an amateur I can only guess at what created the tall heavily striated cliffs – was this the site of a large glacial lake – the rising and falling of the ice sheet scouring deep gouges in to the cliff face similar to the parallel roads found in Lochaber?  I really must put an introductory or idiot’s guide to geology on my Christmas book list.

Feeling much fitter and more energetic than my last hillside excursion I soon made good time to the mountain tarn of Llyn y Fan Fawr where some convenient rocks provided seating for lunch.  I was marvelling at the LLyn y Fan Fawrsolitude surrounding me when invading armies of walkers appeared from every angle all homing in towards the tarn. They too had decided this was the perfect place to stop for lunch.

A clear path leads steeply from the tarn to the windy Bwlch Giedd where strong gales awaited me. The path is undergoing restoration by the national park authority and they are doing a very impressive job. Often I have found that path restoration seems to amount to throwing down as many large stones and rocks possible without any thought of constructing a new path. The uncomfortable result encourages walkers to walk to one side along the grass bank exacerbating the existing erosion. New path to Bwlch GieddThe restoration up to Bwlch Giedd is a beautifully crafted piece of hillside engineering and will be a delight to walk on when completed.

I would normally stroll along ridges like this enjoying the wide panoramic views on offer, but on this occasion I hurried along  propelled by my own legs and the fierce wind. I dashed past the summit trig point on to the cairn at the end of the ridge before making an abrupt about-turn retracing my steps down to Bwlch Giedd and up to the Fan Hir ridge. The path skirts close to the escarpment edge giving tantalising glimpses of the sheer cliffs dropping below, but this was not a day to get tempted too close to the edge as one gust could have meant a Mary Poppin’s moment into infinity. Instead I opted for the more conventional descent continuing along the ridge line back down to the river.



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