We hope you enjoy this walking route by Simply Strolling! It takes us from the wonderful Craig-y-Nos Country Park, through a trekking centre and up unto the beautiful open space to see our standing stones and hut circle remains, head towards the hulking mass that is Cribarth. We then retrace our steps along the tramroad, hit a boulder field and then skirt Castell y Geifr. We take a lovely route to an amazing array of fossils and then join the path that will eventually lead us back down into Dan-yr-Ogof. a short road section and then back into the Country Park and the car. And a lovely coffee shop!
Parking at the Country Park (SN 839 155) does afford a safe place to leave a car and as
previously mentioned a coffee shop to either frequent before the walk or after it. There is a small charge to park here but as it’s supporting the National Parks I refuse to complain about it!
Approximately 10km depending on how much wandering you do amongst the sites…. give yourself 4 hrs. Ability to navigate essential in bad weather. Shakeholes/Sinkholes, bogs and tough going underfoot, unless on the tramroad, when its lovely!
Heading out of the car park turn left and follow the road until you see a bridle way sign.
Cross the road and follow the fenced off paths.
I do have to say that the first part of the path was rather errrrr disgusting as you do go through a trekking centre, and all the associated horse manure seems to have been piled close to the stile you have to cross to access the path. It’s a case of man up, don’t think too much about it and go. Previously this stile had carabiners on is that you could tether the dogs to it while you climbed over but sadly these seem to have been removed. Be warned some dogs may find it difficult to get over this stile and the others on the route.
Follow the fenced off paths, I didn’t take any pics here as I was more concerned with keeping my footing on the muddy ground and two dogs just aching to be off the leads meant I was getting dragged up the path! Dogs stay on leads here. Horses and sheep around.
At one point you will see a break in the fence and a path leading up and another path off to the right with another stile at the end. You are going to turn right and climb over the stile. You will also cross a stream. the next section is a bit muddy, but clean mud this time!
Our next stop was Saith Maen , this is a row of seven stones (guess what Saith Maen
means…..) Five are still standing with the other two in situ but fallen over. Interestingly one of the stones is red sandstone, the rest aren’t. To find the stones, follow the path ahead which is an old quarry path, dug into the earth. it is boggy but at least it’s defined. You will want to veer slightly off course to head to the stones (grid reference in the link) . Don’t forget to turn around at this point and enjoy the views of the Tawe Valley.
From the stones if you look round you will see a dry stone wall with a stile and a gate. We are headed for this, after we find the hut circle and cairn marked on the map!
Avoiding the shakeholes head for the gate and stile. Climb over and you will see a path
directly in front of you. This is the remains of a tramroad or quarry road. The industrialisation of this area saw a huge amount of work go on up here, and even today, when you get onto Cribarth itself, you can see the evidence of the open cast coal mining scars from more modern times.
As you follow the tramroad around Garreg Fawr, this is the view, please do note the huge
bog. That’s the more red/brown area in the picture and just behind you can see two great
examples of shakeholes, where the limestone underneath has collapsed due to it and or a layer below of another soluble rock being worn away by water. That’s a very simplistic way to describe it but it’s basically what happens, a stone that is soluble wears down and creates a cavern that the remaining stone will eventually collapse into.
Looking ahead you will see this…
For those of you interested in geology you will already know that this is a fine example of a geological “fault” where there has been movement of the earths tectonic plates and something has caused them to lift out of a flat position and basically rupture upwards, This one is part of the Swansea Valley or Neath Disturbance.
No matter what it’s called it great to clamber on and to see the different layers of rock and how they have been pushed up and out of context.
We did the best thing we could, wandered around and then sheltered around the back of this out of the wind and had lunch! In the October sunshine.
In the above picture you can see how the rock across the valley, above Penwyllt Quarry are looking like sea beds, in plateaus. Well at one point this was a warm lagoon, somewhere close to the equator and that’s why it’s shaped like that. We are on Carboniferous Limestone. After the Limestone comes Coal and then Farewell Rock. That’s where the coal seams finish and there is no more mining. If you are interested in the geology , take a look at this link. Rocks and the Geology of the Geo Park
After lunch we made our way up to the trig point on Cribarth, to see it’s Cairn and also to
look at the impressive workings evident on the back face. And to eat cake. There is always cake.
We then descended again and followed our trail back along the tramroad.
It should be noted that you can also go down the back and happily wander there and follow the track around the opposite side of Garreg Fawr if you fancy it, we were just looking for something a little easier going under foot.
When we retraced our steps to the stile we had crossed to get over the wall, we followed the boundary wall to it’s corner and followed it right. Again a bit on the boggy side but worth it.
There is a swallow hole located to your right, slightly different to a shake hole. If
carboniferous limestone is capped by impermeable rock, surface streams can run on to
limestone. However, this water disappears from the surface, either by seeping through joints in the limestone or as streams disappearing down through swallow holes.
Yep clear as mud to me too.
Following the wall, a lovely linear feature for all those who like to navigate, the whole way to the end at Carreg a ‘r Gap you have a choice, clamber the stile, at the massive erratic, and return to Craig-y-Nos through some of the most excellent examples of shakeholes you will come across, and indeed one in which a farmer has tried to build a wall across (Pwll-yrCawr) and one with a waterfall in it (Pwll-yr-Wydden).
Decision made and you’re heading onwards. You will also see to your left a rather cracking boulder field with some lovely erratics in situ. Do not believe the picture you will find online that these are Saith Maen….. they are natural, left there by retreating glaciers.
We however turned right and followed a track that would see us skirt Castell y Gefir and it’s shakehole field. The track is fairly distinct if somewhat narrow in places. In poor visibility navigation would be needed to keep on track.
Suddenly you hit a track that descends into a valley and as you come out the other side….
well if you like fossils……. I’m not going to give you the grid reference for this one, you
have to find it yourself! There is an abundance of coral fossils, brachiopod and gastropods.
So much so, we bored one dog, and she fell asleep…..
If anyone wants to see a slide show of fossils, I think I’ve a good hours worth of pictures……I have no idea how long we did actually spend there but it was fun! Heading back now again we are spoilt for the view.
And also a lovely red sandstone erratic….
We are on the home stretch now, we will descend down into the Dan-yr-Ogof site through
old limekiln workings and into the park itself.
as you wander down and through the campsite at Dan-yr-Ogof take a look out for the animals in the park…. I think this is a Llama cross Giraffe but I might be mistaken….
If you head towards the main entrance /exit area you will see a field marked “burial
chamber”, there is a path through here which finishes at a stile before you hit the road, either come out the main entrance way or use this path.
Now there is a bit of road without footpath.
As quickly as you like head back towards Craig-y-Nos, you will come to a sign which says
1/4 mile to the park, quite soon after this is a gate that allows you into the back entrance of the country park and you can finish the walk off walking around the lake and back to the car.
We also came across this chap on the walk, I’m fairly certain it’s a Red Tiger Moth
caterpillar getting ready to over winter. Looks a bit like a small bottle brush…. I’ve named him Fred….
Here’s the GPX File link to OS Maps, not my exact route, that would have had a. some very strange blotches of me wandering in circles looking at fossils and b. as someone’s watch magically switched itself off whilst she was taking off her rucksack, and the and b. as someone’s watch magically switched itself off whilst she was taking off her rucksack, and the watch route is missing about 3.5km! *never rely on technology*