#174 – Mynydd Du (The Black Mountain) in the Western Brecon Beacons

On the Fan Hir Ridge – Mynydd Du (The Black Mountain)

On the Fan Hir Ridge – Mynydd Du (The Black Mountain)

The route, starting from Dan yr Ogof

The route, starting from Dan yr Ogof

In previous posts I’ve mentioned my attempts to learn some of the Welsh language now that we live in North Wales. I don’t have the language skills to ever hope to get to conversational level, but I’m getting a reasonable vocabulary of place names. Mynydd Du in the Western Brecon Beacons is a pretty easy, it means ‘Black Mountain’, but in the Eastern Beacons we have Y Mynyddoedd Duon, which means ‘The Black Mountains’. Lots of potential for confusion there then!

The west side of Fan Hir - a long whaleback ridge above limestone outcrops

The west side of Fan Hir – a long whaleback ridge above limestone outcrops

The east side of Fan Hir – a steep and dramatic sandstone escarpment

The east side of Fan Hir – a steep and dramatic sandstone escarpment

The ridge of Fan Hir heads north from Dan yr Ogof on the A4067 road, heading right into the heart of the wilderness area of Mynydd Du, but from the west you might wonder why this is named Black Mountain as the rock here is white limestone. Look at the eastern side of Fan Hir though, and it starts to make sense – a long escarpment of sandstone makes a dramatic picture for motorists driving south.

Setting out near Dan yr Ogof

Setting out near Dan yr Ogof

The start of the uphill

The start of the uphill

Local residents - wild ponies

Local residents – wild ponies

‘Mist’ taking a break with Fan Hir behind in the distance

‘Mist’ taking a break with Fan Hir behind in the distance

Border Collies will usually find water somewhere

Border Collies will usually find water somewhere

A Beacons walk usually includes our mate Barbara who lives in Mid-Wales. Our last trip out together had been in the previous August (see post #169), and Barbara was keen to get a few more miles in her legs before a trekking trip to Nepal. We started near Dan yr Ogof, one of the largest cave systems in the UK, and set out to walk the top of the Fan Hir escarpment. The recent dry weather had left the ground parched, and I wondered how much of my water supply Border Collie ‘Mist’ would need, but a Collie could find a drink on a piece of damp blotting paper, and she soon found a stream.

The last pull up to the escarpment

The last pull up to the escarpment

On the edge of the escarpment ….

On the edge of the escarpment ….

…. with Barbara persuaded to pose above the drop

…. with Barbara persuaded to pose above the drop

D of E expedition group heading south on Fan Hir

D of E expedition group heading south on Fan Hir

The summit of Fan Hir – still some way to go

The summit of Fan Hir – still some way to go

The first part of the ascent was the steepest bit, but before long the angle eased as we reached the top of the escarpment. Barbara was persuaded to pose for a photo on the cliff edge overlooking the long drop down to the Beacons Way Trail below us, before we continued to the summit of Fan Hir, meeting the first of several groups taking part in their expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme – I’m glad I don’t usually carry rucksacks that heavy nowadays!

Fan Brycheiniog ahead – our highest point at 802 metres

Fan Brycheiniog ahead – our highest point at 802 metres

Heading for the summit with Fan Hir behind

Heading for the summit with Fan Hir behind

The summit of Fan Brycheiniog

The summit of Fan Brycheiniog

Summit shelter – couldn’t get in, it was full of dogs!

Summit shelter – couldn’t get in, it was full of dogs!

Looking back along the escarpment to Llyn y Fan Fawr

Looking back along the escarpment to Llyn y Fan Fawr

What goes up must come down – on the descent from Fan Foel

What goes up must come down – on the descent from Fan Foel

Fan Hir (it means ‘Long Beacon’ or ‘Long Summit’) was followed by Fan Brycheiniog (the ‘Brecon Beacon’ or ‘Brecon Summit’) which was the highest point on the walk at 802 metres altitude (2631 ft).  As with many things in life, size isn’t everything, and this compact range of hills has a big, wild feel about it.   ‘Mist’ was first to reach the summit shelter (nothing new there then) and we continued on to Fan Foel (‘Bare summit’) with views back to the lake of Llyn Fan Fawr (‘Big Beacon Lake’).   Then it was time for a bit of downhill.

Heading back towards Llyn y Fan Fawr ….

Heading back towards Llyn y Fan Fawr ….

…. with the escarpment now above

…. with the escarpment now above

Llyn y Fan Fawr ahead

Llyn y Fan Fawr ahead

Llyn y Fan Fawr and Fan Brycheiniog

Llyn y Fan Fawr and Fan Brycheiniog

Below Fan Hir on the Beacons Way

Below Fan Hir on the Beacons Way

Our route back was almost a reverse of the outward route, taking us beneath the escarpment this time. We passed Llyn y Fan Fawr on the way before joining the Beacons Way Trail. We hadn’t rushed, but the trip had taken about seven hours, good trekking practice for Barbara. Regular readers of the blog will be amazed to hear that I got the timing right on this walk, and the Gwyn Arms was open!

Time to head for the pub

Time to head for the pub

The Gwyn Arms - Got the timing right this time!

The Gwyn Arms – Got the timing right this time!

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

 

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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8 Responses to #174 – Mynydd Du (The Black Mountain) in the Western Brecon Beacons

  1. We’ve yet to venture down to that area; it looks grand. 🙂

  2. That looks a really nice walk. I have to disagree with the Dales thing though as I think Wales is much, much nicer – greener, more leafy in the valleys, more interesting hills (excepting the 3 peaks of course).

    Are you still having a dry spell? We had a short one but we’re well and truly breaking it now!

    I’m the same as you with the Welsh – I’d have loved to have learnt it properly but I was interrupted by having to do French (which is too similar) at school and so never managed to get to conversational level but know a lot of nouns.
    Carol.

  3. Looks wonderful Paul. I may have done part of this once. Several years ago our caving club went to Wales to ‘do’ Dan-yr-Ogof. We were there a fortnight and some of us went for a walk one day and this looks familiar – and so does The Gwyn Arms…but it was a long time ago…

  4. Pingback: #241 – Mynydd Du – The Black Mountai | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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