Craig y Cilau Nature Reserve
This area of dramatic crags, cwm, & escarpment is the result of the carving action of glaciers. Turf covered mounds of earth & stone debris are another ice age legacy. Rare arctic-alpine plants find a refuge in these north facing hills.
We parked on the A470 beyond the Storey Arms on a lovely day. Inevitably we started uphill, a fairly steep gradient as far as Fan Frynych at 629metres. We needed a few rests on the way up and had ‘energy bites’ (nutritious balls of nuts, chocolate, dates and seeds) at midday. From Fan Frynych we had fantastic views of Pen y Fan. On the high moors good paths cross peat providing comfortable walking. Misty (Jane and Viain’s lovely spaniel) decided to explore one peat bog and came out a little worse for wear but soon cleaned up again after running through the long grasses.
We kept to the ridge for a while and then descended to the valley below, a steep descent through bilberry bushes and ferns which was difficult to negotiate. Reaching the stream at the bottom (Nant Cwm- du), we walked along a beautiful valley. Lone trees dotted the landscape and a group of ravens rode the thermals on the ridge high above us.
Reaching Sarn Helen, we stopped for lunch at a bridge over the stream, surrounded by mountains and a blissful silence. After lunch we were on the homeward stretch but took a long detour to avoid climbing the mountain again. Part of this route took us through some unlovely gooey mud, created by cows. In various remote spots we had seen flocks of sheep, herds of cows and numerous horses grazing. As we came lower we saw a man in the next field dressed in a light shirt, slacks and ordinary shoes looking at his sheep. Within a very short time he had climbed high up the hill to find a herd of cows, obviously he was the farmer and was familiar with the land but his fitness put us to shame. We had covered 8.7miles and 1500ft climb (Map OL12) and went down to the pub in Libanus for a very welcome drink.
(If you wish to walk any of the routes described in these column please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a map and additional information)