Walks Out West
May is National Walking Month and Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark are encouraging everyone to get outdoors and discover the western half of the Brecon Beacons National Park. There are plenty of short rambles over low ground, hillforts with impressive views or longer hikes if you want to make a day of it. With walks to suit all abilities get your walking boots on and discover the Fforest Fawr Geopark. Here are a few ideas for places to go and what there is to see in May.
Bluebells in bloom
All over the National Park the bluebells are blooming. At Castle Woods at Dinefwr Park and Castle near Llandeilo, walk through the woodland carpeting with lilac flowers, to the castle at the top for 360 views of the Wales. In Brecon visit Priory Groves next to the Cathedral, a mixed woodland full of bluebells and wildflowers.
Craig-y-nos Country Park
This Registered Historic Park and Garden in the Upper Swansea Valley has plenty of short walks through woodlands, meadows, past rivers and fishponds. Plan a visit for Wednesday 29th May and join in the fun of GeoFest Family Activity Day. Perfect for a family day out, try canoeing, stone-carving or the popular zip wire. All activities are free.
Head up a steep ascent to the rocky slopes of Cribarth, a spectacular hill rising above Craig-y-nos Country Park in the upper Swansea Valley (Cwm Tawe). The 3.25mile walking trail visits the remains of a quarry, limestone crags and unfinished sections of 19th century industrial tramroads. Views of the Tawe Valley and Fan Gyhirch make it a better option for a clear day!
Discover a National Nature Reserve
Near Pen-y-cae at 350m above sea level is the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Nature Reserve. Herb-rich grasslands grow on the limestone and there are views across South Wales and the Brecon Beacons. For a gentle, easy walk you can follow the old railway line along the side of the valley or walk to the heart of the reserve following the old tramway. Or wander Craig Cerrig-gleisiad a Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve near Storey Arms. A short walk leads you to an atmospheric natural amphitheatre created by the soaring, craggy cliffs. Take binoculars to spot some of the many birds that use the reserve and arctic-alpine plants that live on the craggy northern slopes.
Head for the mountains
With three mountain ranges in the Fforest Fawr Geopark, there are more options for a summit hike than just Pen y Fan. In the centre of the Geopark is the Fforest Fawr Massif, with the peaks of Fan Fawr and Fan Frynych. Far out west is the more remote Black Mountain range with magical glacial lakes and spectacular views, especially from the summit of Fan Brycheiniog. Take a day, plan your route and get to know the wilder west of the Park.
Hike a hillfort
The western half of the Brecon Beacons National Park has many Iron Age Hillforts. The shorter walks can be done in under two hours and suitable for less experienced walkers. Pen-y-Crug, just above Brecon, has impressive archaeological remains and breath-taking views of the Central Beacons. Twyn y Gaer is a short walk across Mynydd Illtud Common from the National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus. And Garn Goch, located between Llangadog and Llandeilo, is one of the largest Iron Age forts in Wales.
About the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark
The Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark is a geologically significant part of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. It covers the western half of the Park, from Llandovery in the north to Merthyr Tydfil in the south and from Llandeilo in the west to Brecon in the east. The purpose of the Geopark is to generate social, environmental and economic benefits. The Geopark is currently participating in a project to create a European Atlantic Geotourism Route which aims to support the development of Geotourism in a number of destinations through the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal. This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme.