I know that last month we described the Skirrid walk as ‘hardcore’, but this was really only because there wasn’t a teashop involved! This month’s walk is a little bit more serious, given that there are sections with no path at all, steep drops and gullies to avoid, and regrettably, no teashop. I would recommend this walk for fine days only; as when I went on a windy February afternoon, the going was tough with drifted snow, ice and boggy ground. Proper walking boots are a must, and I suggest that you bring along some provisions too. The views are great, and the perspective you get of the giant bowl shaped valley is really spectacular! The walk is approximately 5 miles and you should allow at least 3 hours. The walk starts at the second Forestry Commission car park you come to as you approach from Aber village and Talybont-on-Usk.
From the car park entrance, take the path on the right that leads steeply uphill, alongside a waterfall on the Nant Bwrefwr. The path is well laid with stones, but it is steep, and the climb is continuous for half a mile, so take your time and don’t expend all your energy at the start!
After passing a second waterfall on your left and admiring the views to the south, you will reach the top of Craig y Fan Ddu; a spur off the main spine of the Beacons. The top is a relatively level plateau. The path rounds the headland to the right. Follow the ridge path, being mindful of the steep drop to your right.
After a little over half a mile, cross the stream at the top of Torpantau Waterfall. Follow the path along the Graig Fan Las ridge towards the head of the valley.
When you reach the head of the valley, the path begins to break up and can be difficult to follow. You are aiming for the point just below the start of the craggy rocks on the eastern flank of the valley.
Here is the wreckage of a WWII Wellington Bomber which crashed here on 6th July, 1942. All five of the Canadian aircrew were killed in the crash, and there is a memorial to them on the site. One of the engines can be found lower down in a gully. There is no path to speak of from this point. You are aiming for where trees can be seen growing either side of the Caerfanell towards the bottom of the valley. The route I took is marked with a broken line on the map. Beware; the ground is uneven and can be boggy.
Eventually a clear path becomes evident beside the stream. Join this and follow it, passing waterfalls, to a stile. Go over the stile, and continue past more waterfalls and fast flowing water. Somewhere around here might be a good spot for a picnic!
Watch out for a kind of stile on the opposite bank, just before a waterfall, (it’s a wooden piece of fence, for climbing over, rather than an actual stile). Cross the stream at this point and go over the fence. If you don’t want to ford the river and climb over the fence, I understand that there is a footbridge further down and a longer woodland walk if you fancy that.
Follow the well made path up through pine woodland, with the sound of more waterfalls coming from your left. The track eventually arrives back at the the car park.
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This map is centred on the car park’s location.
To download a print-ready PDF of the map, click here.
Have you done the walk? Did you get better weather? Tell us about it below! Email your pictures to us at email@example.com