Black Mountains

We started out from Mynydd Du forest car park, apparently this is the largest forest in the Brecon Beacons National Park. We walked along a stream and crossed it via a bridge. The track led us through trees and gradually we began to climb the valley. The track became narrower and in places there was a steep drop to the stream below. As our ascent continued we came out into the open to walk along the edge of a felled forest. The gradient had increased and with the sun coming out it was getting a ‘bit warm’, we were glad whenever a cloud arrived to give us some relief. The last section of the climb was very steep and the path rocky in places. The good news was that we had climbed to a ridge and the remainder of the walk would be relatively easy.SEPT### IMG_5378

We reached the summit of Pen y Gadair Fawr at 800metres. There was a profound silence, nothing to remind us of modern society, not even any planes. And we could see for miles in all directions, uninterrupted views of mountains and no wind turbines! It was 12.45 but we decided to continue to the next high point before stopping for lunch.

The paths are excellent on the top, grit having been laid by National Park rangers to preserve the moorland and peat. We had a glimpse of the reservoir at Gwynne Fawr as we headed towards our second peak of the day, Waun Fach at 811metres. By now we had split into two groups 3 people striding out ahead and 3 of us just a bit further back. It was definitely lunchtime but they kept going and a black cloud gathered in the sky above us. ‘Maybe they’re trying to get out of the cloud before lunch’ I thought. But no they eventually stopped and we were able to sit on piles of empty sacks which had been used to haul all the stone up the mountain for the paths. It was cool only 17degC under the cloud but all around was bathed in sunshine. It was so clear that we could see Hay on Wye to the north and the Malverns in the east.

After lunch we turned for home passing the Dragonsback on our left. Our descent was gradual taking us towards Gwynne Fawr reservoir which had a bothy at its head. It was now a very warm day and we enjoyed the proliferation of wildlife around us –

butterflies, bees, dragonflies, many plants and gorgeously cool mountain streams. The final stretch was rough stones which was a bit tough on the feet after such a demanding walk. We weren’t surprised to hear that the guide book had described the walk as ‘strenuous’. We’d covered 9.7miles and a 1500ft climb, which included the 2 highest peaks in the Black Mountains. (Map OL13)