Waterfalls and Ridges of Brecon Beacons
Start: Blaen-y-glyn parking lot
End: Blaen-y-glyn parking lot
Distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Time: 6 hours
Surface: Rock and Grassy Paths
Brecon Beacons Park Society Website
Wales’s Breton Beacons National Park is home to a series of waterfalls and ridges, an exploration of either of which would make a fabulous stand-alone walk. Here, however, you can do both in a loop walk, which is probably best done in a counterclockwise direction as this gets the bulk of the climbing out of the way early as you ascend to your first goal-the peak of Craig y Fan Ddu.
The climb to Craig y Fan Ddu is a 1,640-foot (500-m) slog and a hard scramble, but the views across the surrounding valleys once on the summit are inspiring, with a glacial valley clearly discernible to the right and the town of Port Talbot and the sea beyond it to the left. And it is on Craig y Fan Ddu that you begin to appreciate the wealth of the bird life here, which includes peregrines, kestrels, ravens, and red kites being lifted high on the constant thermals.
Continue along the escarpment you now have before you and follow the eastern rim until you reach a cleft where a waterfall cascades into the valley below. From there it’s about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the main Bretons escarpment at Bwlch y Ddwyallt, past an old quarry before a climb to Fan y Big (2,360 feet/ 719 m) for a memorable panorama over the park. Descend on a stony path from there to the Gap Road, cross an old Roman road, and continue south, turning left at a cairn before reaching the Upper Neuadd reservoir. There you will make your way through stands of Scots pines to the Taff Trail. Then it’s 1 mile (1.6 km) to the Talybont-on-Usk road and the end of one of the United Kingdom’s great ridge/escarpment circumnavigations.