Fan Frynych is one of the lesser-known mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park but it provides a superb challenge and offers spectacular views of the Central Beacons. At a height of 629 metres (2064 feet), it is an excellent option if you want to avoid the crowds on the more famous peaks in the locality.
There are a variety of routes leading to the top. This walk is just over eight miles and begins at the National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus. The centre offers access to some of the finest walking in the Brecon Beacons.
Turning left out of the car park, the route follows a well-defined footpath for approximately three miles of reasonably flat walking. This leads into an area known as the Fforest Fawr massif (Great Forest). The name refers to an ancient time when it was a royal hunting ground.
At this point the route starts rising towards the Fan Frynych ridge. The initial climb is steep but it levels out to become a gentle incline.
The surrounding terrain is within the boundary of the Craig-Cerrig Gleisiad A Fan Frynych National Nature Reserve. It presents a fascinating example of the Ice Age glacial erosion which created the landscape as it is today. There is an astounding assortment of rare plants and wildlife including arctic-alpines and approximately 80 species of birds. With its steep sides contrasting with the exposed ridges, care must be taken when walking within the reserve.
It is possible to visit Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad’s sheltered ‘bowl’ as part of a different route from a lay-by on the A470.
The climb up Fan Frynych passes a cairn to reach the summit, which is clearly marked by a trig point painted white and adorned with the red Welsh dragon. There are outstanding views in every direction including the peaks of Pen-Y-Fan and Corn Du standing proudly on the horizon.
From here, there is a clear footpath heading down from the ridge. It can be quite steep in places with loose stones underfoot requiring some concentration to avoid slipping. Eventually it leads to a concealed, narrow path that is very easy to miss (even more so in the summer as the foliage becomes overgrown), taking the route towards a farm.
After passing through several fields and over stiles, the footpath eventually joins up with the track returning to the visitor centre. A slight detour will result in a visit to the second nature reserve along the route. Traeth Mawr is an important location for wetland wildlife.
This walk is set within the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark so it is categorised as a site of international geological significance. The geopark covers 300 square miles and is celebrated for its glimpse into history with its natural record of evidence showing the changing nature of the landscape in Wales.
There is so much to discover, exploring this area will take more than just one day but a visit to Fan Frynych is a terrific introduction into what makes the Brecon Beacons National Park so special.
A version of this article first appeared in ‘Bwrdd’ – The Newsletter for Mensa Cymru, July 2019.
If you are interested in another walk from the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre, why not visit Cefn Llechid?
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