From Fan Foel, it’s not far at all to the next of today’s cairns, Twr y Fan Foel. Last time I came here from Fan Hir, a walk that is do-able using the Neath-Brecon bus service, but there’s no doubt that today’s approach is more satisfying. The cairn itself is a bit of a wreck, eroded at its base and piled into a silly cone. Purely as a structure of earth and stone, it lacks the charm of the wonderful ring on Fan Foel. But the view is astonishing. The ground drops away to north and east, and this is perfect viewpoint for the second of today’s mountain lakes, Llyn y Fan Fawr. From up here, it’s hard to believe that the lake itself is located at as-near-as-dammit 2,000 feet up. The cairn is at the highest point of Y Mynydd’s Du magnificent escarpment and boy, what a place for a monument. Worth every bit of energy and effort to get up here.
Sadly we don’t linger so long at this one, my companions are getting hungry and a bit further along the escarpment, at the southern summit, there is a drystone shelter that has been identified as our lunch spot. There’s nothing on Coflein to suggest that this shelter has been fashioned from an ancient cairn, so I can feel relaxed about making use of it. For all that the sun is shining, it’s still bitterly cold up here and a stop of any duration is going to see a sudden drop in body temperature. It’s here that we meet the only other people that we’ll see today. Not far to the SW of the summit is the spot where an Avro Anson crashed in thick cloud and rain, back in peacetime 1939, a stark reminder of just how bad the weather can get in and above these mountains.
Visited 5.6.2010, on a hot but hazy day. Taking Cerrig's hint, I got the bus to Dan yr Ogof, home of the National Showcaves and an assortment of megalithic "fakes" - stone circles, rows, chambered tombs.
The Beaons Way heads off the A4067 opposite the Tafarn-y-Garreg (the "Tavern of the Stone"), which has a big white painted stone block outside (just wondering....). Leaving the Way once I crossed the Avon Tawe, for the first of several times today, a rough path heads up the steep side of Allt Fach. The views start to open out, Cefn Cul/Waun Leuci to the right, the distinctive scarp-faced Fan Gyhirych round to the east, and the limestone-spiked Carreg Goch to the south-west. It was blazing hot and the sun was beating down very fiercely on my neck, spurring me to get onto the ridge and a bit of breeze. Taking a few rough paths in a north-easterly direction, you come to the lower slopes of the long Fan Hir ridge. From here it's a bit of a slog uphill, not steep but climbing continually. Once you get onto the eastern edge of Fan Hir, there is a magnificent view across to the central Beacons (albeit almost invisible in a blue haze today) as well the sheer drop closer at hand (not a path for vertigo sufferers this one). Eventually, after what seemed like a long time and quite a few false crests, I reached the top of Fan Hir. An unremarkable summit apart from the shattered "pavement" along the cliff edge, it does boast some terrific views, notably to Fan Brycheiniog, the day's first objective.
The path continues north and drops down towards Bwlch Giedd, now enjoying great views of Llyn y Fan Fawr ("Big lake of the peak"?), which itself stands at 600m above sea level. The Beacons Way comes in from the right, where it has made a much steeper ascent than the route I took to get here. And then it's another climb, the last major one of the day, up the southern summit of Fan Brycheiniog. This mountain, the highest point in Y Mynydd Du at 802m, has two summits of equal height. The first is topped with a trig point and a (quite neat I must admit) drystone walkers' shelter. From here it's a quick stroll to the northern summit, where the bronze age cairn is. It's quiet up here, I saw no more than a dozen people on this visit, compared with the hordes on Pen y Fan.
The summit cairn has been quite badly damaged - and still is being. Aside from the inevitable silly modern walkers' construct on top of it, the sides of the barrow have been badly eroded by the thousands of feet that have walked up here (mine included now). However, it boasts terrific views and is in a wonderful spot. My next objective, Fan Foel is clearly visible a little way to the north, and I didn't linger as a group of ramblers appeared, all coming to stand on top of the cairn (doh!).