Cefn Llechid – The Central Beacons

The area surrounding Cefn Llechid is superb for a long walk from the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre.

The Brecon Beacons National Park covers 520 square miles. With a variety of diverse landscapes and so much to see, it can be difficult to decide where to begin.

The area known as the Central Beacons boasts some of the National Park’s most famous peaks and spectacular views. It is situated just outside Brecon in South Wales and provides the perfect location to explore.

The National Park Visitor Centre, also called the Mountain Centre, is an ideal base for walking because there is a good car park, toilet facilities, tea rooms (for that all important post-walk reward) and a gift shop if you want to treat yourself. The centre also provides a good source of information for anything related to outdoor activities within the Brecon Beacons National Park.

One popular route from the centre is the circular walk to Cefn Llechid. It can be quite demanding in places but the first few miles are fairly flat. The path passes a campsite and continues until it reaches Felin Camlais pond on the edge of Mynydd Illtud.

Felin Camlais pond with Pen-Y-Fan and Corn Du in the distance.

The route then follows what is believed to be the remains of a drovers’ road where, in historical times, sheep, cattle and other livestock were driven (moved on foot) to the markets for sale.  The track begins to descend into the valley of Cwm Camlais. After crossing the Nant Camlais-fawr river, a more strenuous section of the walk starts and involves a steep climb out of the valley before turning in the direction of Cefn Llechid common.

The footpath eventually reaches a large pool of water where you can see the trig point in the distance. Another short climb ensues to reach the summit and the reward of a magnificent, panoramic view (which is also an excellent place to stop for lunch!).

The trig point at Cefn Llechid.

From here, the walk descends again through several fields towards a ford in a wooded valley. This is where the route becomes tricky because there is a clear path leading away from the bridge but it is actually the less well-defined, overgrown track on the right that takes you the correct way up another steep climb.

The ford in the wooded valley.

This ascent joins up once more with the drovers’ road, where the original descent began, and returns to a tarmac road at Felin Camlais pond. This leads to a small, one-metre standing stone that marks the right turn back to the Visitor Centre.

This is an excellent walk that crosses different types of terrain. It is challenging at times and good map reading skills are essential. Many separate paths crisscross this area and it is easy to potentially find yourself following the wrong one (especially as some are more well-defined than others). Confident map reading skills can also help if you want to adapt walks to make them longer or shorter to suit your ability level or available time.

Further information about different walks from The National Park Visitor Centre can be found on the website www.breconbeacons.org.

A version of this article first appeared in ‘Bwrdd’ – The Newsletter for Mensa Cymru, August 2018.