That’s exactly what drew us to the Horseshoe walk in late May, to take a peek at the tremendous work carried out by Brecon Beacons National Park and assorted others through a Crowdfunded Scheme . The results are extraordinary and well worth the trudge up to the top ridge to see them.
The picture below is taken from about half way the path looking down over the lower Neuadd Reservoir.
Map Required OS12
Car Park at Neuadd Reservoir Car Park SO 031 173. This is a well known car park but some people can be a tad idiotic in their parking. Just take a deep breath. Do not leave valuables in your car or anything in plain sight.
This is a popular walk and therefore there are those who might wish to avail themselves of kit left in locked cars……. Alternatively park at the Taf Fechan car park just a bit further down the road and add a little more milage….. Do not park in the entry way to the private road to the pumphouse area as access is needed.
Ascent total of 668m
Allow 4.5-5.5 hours, depending on weather and ground conditions. Best keep this for a clear day as the views are breathtaking, but you will see a lot of other walkers on this route. If it’s solitude you are after avoid it.
This is a fantastic walk which will throw the challenges of the three summits of the Central Beacons, Corn Du, Pen y Fan & Cribyn, at you. This is actually the first walk I ever did in the Beacon’s on my own. Starting out as I meant to go on by the looks of things.
We parked at Neuadd car park and headed towards the Welsh Water owned pump house and reservoir. The path is pretty obvious as you come off the road and through the first gate. Make your way to the reservoir where, in season, you will see a fantastic show of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. The views leading up into the Central Beacons aren’t to bad either
Having crossed the head of the reservoir go through the metal gate and you will see in front the newly laid path leading you straight up the side.
Don’t forget to keep looking around you as the higher you go the more breathtaking the views become. I like to think of little stops to catch my breath as photo opportunities!
This is looking across to our final descent of the day Cribyn and then path that we will wander back to the car park, the Roman Road.
Here you can see the netting used to stop the erosion of the soil and to hold the rock in place. It will likely have been seeded as well to help the plant life to reestablish itself.
When you reach the top turn right and make your way along Graig Fan Ddu, Craig Gwaun Taf and basically keep going for approximately one hour, or 3 km, until you get to the start of your ascent up Corn Du.
Don’t forget to look behind you as you travel along the ridge. The reservoirs of Neuadd leading to Pentwyn & Pontsticill in the distance.
As you travel along the ridge do take a chance to look at the Old Devonian Red Sandstone formations and the remains of the glacial action in the valley below.
You will note in the middle left of the picture a retaining wall but no water behind it. This is the area of the Upper Neuadd Reservoir which is currently drained as the wall needs repairs as it is a Grade 2 listed structure. There is a hope in the future that the water will once more fill the reservoir but in the meantime take the time to explore the fantastic island in the centre with it’s cairns. Having camped on it and watched the Perseid Meteor shower one August, it’s a pretty special place to be.
Anyway back to our route.
Come around the shoulder below Corn Du, Bwlch Duynt and start your ascent. There is a short scramble (very short) at the top.
Max likes to show the way!
Summit Corn Du and then make your way across to Pen Y Fan (translates as Head of the Peaks) You are now on the highest point in South Wales. You can see the glorious Black Mountains behind me in this pic.
I have to admit to rarely having my pic taken on the summit as I am lucky to be there regularly but on this occasion we made an exception.
We descend down the back of Pen Y Fan, much more preferable than coming up it! This route is known as “Jacob’s Ladder” and an integral part of the infamous Fan Dance route undertaken by the SAS whilst training. Jacobs Ladder is the most distant path you can see in the picture below. This picture is taken on Cribyn looking back.
As you descend you will see the sharp nose of Cribyn ahead of you, yes, we are now going to go straight up that. The views from there are stunning. You are looking at the North Eastern face of Pen Y Fan and the weathering of the rocks is amazing to look at. See the top picture again.
As you head up Cribyn just take time to breathe in the surroundings. Sometimes you are lucky enough to see the emergency Search & Rescue/Coastguard helicopter out on manoeuvres.
Make your way off Cribyn using, again, the well defined path, taking care on the steep descent to the gap road. You are now on the home straight. At this point you can go up onto Fan Y Big if you wish to add in another one of the iconic peaks in the Beacons. and stand on the “Diving Board”. We didn’t on this occasion, hence no pictures.
Follow the Old Roman Road that skirts the valley Tor Glas. I love being able to look back at this point and see the whole walk in a glance. It is a great feeling of “I did that”.
We headed back to the car through the pump house area again to avoid a very nasty drop to a stream and scramble…. got to think of our knees!
What flowers did we spot on this day? The first of the season Southern Marsh Orchids! There were copious numbers of Butterwort, Birds Foot Trefoil among a plethora of others.
If you are on OS Maps here’s the link to the walk The Iconic Beacons Horseshoe