Fan Foel - Bannau Sir Gaer - Llyn y Fan Fach

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This walk approaches the Black Mountain (Mynydd Du) from the head of the Sawdde valley with its patchwork of small fields and dispersed farms. A progressive ascent across open ground leads towards Fan Foel. There is a small stone circle about 100 metres northwest of Waymark 2 and the route passes close to the source of the River Usk. The north ridge of Fan Foel is steep but straightforward, offering views of Llyn y Fan Fawr and the scarp face of Fan Brycheiniog.

A path traverses along the northern escarpment of Bannau Sir Gaer, which is characterised by horizontal strata of old red sandstone and millstone grit. Curving cliffs enclose Llyn y Fan Fach, which lies over five hundred feet below. It is a glacial lake that provides the setting for one of the best-known Welsh folktales: the Lady of Llyn y Fan and the Physicians of Myddfai. The story begins when Rhiwallon, the farmer of Blaensawdde, meets a beautiful water fairy besides Llyn y Fan. She agrees to marriage, on condition that she will return to the lake if he inflicts three causeless blows. They raise three sons before Rhiwallon breaks the pledge and she returns to Llyn y Fan, leaving her sons behind. They search for her and she reappears from the water to teach them about herbal cures. The three sons became the first in a long line of Physicians of Myddfai, a tradition preserved until the 18th century.

Wales - South Wales - Carmarthenshire - Black Mountain


Ancient Monument, Birds, Great Views, Lake/Loch, Mountains, River
11/9/2020 - Julie Philpotts

Myself and wife walked this yesterday(Sun 8th Nov). Weather dry but overcast. The start of the walk is very much as described a steep climb up to the first summit. The views are spectacular with views of three lakes and incredible countryside. That's where the views ended with the weather misting over very quickly and reducing visibility down to 3mtr. Be aware this can be very disorientating and would not suggest this walk in these conditions without good compass and map skills. The weather followed us for the remainder of the walk down to LLyn y fawr lake. This is a walk that is worth the effort and will definitely returning. Loved it apart from the weather.

10/28/2011 - Andy Packer

I did this walk with my partner on a lovely Tuesday. The weather was incredible and although it was evident that it had been raining within the past 48 hours, it was dry enough underfoot, although beware that this ground sources plenty of springs so it is likely to be "spungy" to walk on given its moderate level of natural saturation. We started around 11am and managed to complete the walk in 3hours and 40 minutes (including stops for lunch on top of Fan Foel and numerous photo opportunities) It is a tough walk and my partner, who is not quite as fit as myself did find parts of it hard on her knees. That said though, the walk is most certainly worth it for the breathtaking views at the top, I cannot think of many other places with such a good panorama in South West England and Wales area. Definitely take some sturdy footwear and a compass. Definitely take a camera and plenty of water for the way! My only navigational issues were - 1, the "Sychnant" is the stream coming down from the first stone circle (in hindsight this was obvious, but at the time it had me really stumped). 2, the Stone Circle at waypoint 3 is extremely difficult to find as there are many loose rocks and boulders around and nothing that stands out from this, so do not waste too much time using this to navigate, just aim for the obvious footpath going up the really steep slope! An amazing walk that I will definitely be doing again. To check out some of my professional shots of this walk, visit my Photobucket site and leave me some comments!

4/6/2011 - Roger Middleton

I led a group of 8 around this one on a showery day in early April, setting out at 11.00 am which is far too late for a walk of this nature as it leaves insufficient time for contingencies, but we're really glad we did it. Initially the climb is steady, only becoming steep for the final 600 feet. The ground is firm underfoot, and gravelly rather than muddy under foot which makes the walking pleasant and leaving you free to look around you rather than pick your way. We wore boots, but it could be done in approach shoes in dry weather. It is very easy to become disorientated on top and I was glad of a compass to confirm what was a counter intuitive direction when the cloud descended as we approached the first summit. I recommend that you do not do this walk without one. Once the cloud cleared the views were stunning, and the descent was easy. We were not a particularly fast group, but could be described as steady walkers, and the guide time of 3 1/2 hours plus stops was pretty much "on the money", and should be within the capabilities of most "boot shod" regular walkers, although to be avoided by the "bank holiday flip flop and trainers brigade". Certainly it did not take as long as we had anticipated and would recommend it without reservation.

2/8/2005 - Diane Lowrey

We did this walk at the weekend, and it was the highest I had ever walked before. Well worth the effort, although by this route it is tough. As we came down, we met lots of Sunday walkers, who start where we ended, and just walk up to the top and back down, missing the main summit. It is a versatile walk, as you can do as much as you want - we went for the whole thing and it was worth the climb. Spectacular.

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