Brecon Beacons National Park
The Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk leads you up onto a steep craggy ridge above the amphitheatre-shaped valley below. Spectacular scenery awaits as well as the chance of seeing rare plant and birdlife
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Circular Walk
I think there is little doubt that a significant percentage of the people who head to the Brecon Beacons make their way to the Storey Arms Outdoor Education Centre, for the start of the easiest route up Pen y Fan.
With all the amazing walks on offer in the Brecon Beacons National Park, it is hard to believe that this incredibly busy and relatively uninspiring route generates such interest with people.
What’s more, there are far more exciting trails that take in Pen y Fan, such as the one from Nant Cwm Llwch or the epic Brecon Beacons Horseshoe Ridge Walk.
So, let’s move on to the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk. This is a hike that probably very few have heard about and being located just a stone’s throw from Pen y Fan, I guess it’s not all that surprising!
Just to prove my point, on a perfectly sunny June morning at 0730, I passed an almost full Storey Arms car park to be greeted minutes later by a totally empty parking area at the start of the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk.
Where is the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Walk?
The starting point for the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk is located in a lay-by on the western side of the A470, 1.8 miles (2.9 km) north of the Storey Arms Outdoor Education Centre. The location’s grid reference is SN971222 and the nearest postcode is LD3 8NL.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Walk – Step by Step
From the lay-by, pass through the gate stopping briefly to read the useful information board a short distance in. Then, simply follow the path for approximately 200 metres until you reach a stone wall alongside a wooden gate.
Climb through the gap in the wall and before you will stand the majestic, atmospheric amphitheatre created by the soaring, craggy cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad.
In around 20 metres, cross the small stream that runs along the path off to your left. Follow the indistinct path as you commence the climb to the ridge on this section of the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk.
As you progress further up the ridge, especially as the trail veers westerly, the gradient steepens and you may find yourself using your hands from time to time to aid your progression.
Once you have battled your way to the top of the incline, now is a great opportunity to soak in the wondrous views while giving your legs and lungs time to recuperate before continuing.
You now get to enjoy the towering, jagged, plant-clad northern cliffs of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad as they slide steeply into the valley below. Look back to the east and you can’t help but notice the distinctive flat summits of Corn Du and Pen y Fan, standing proud as the two highest peaks in the National Park.
With the single tough climb behind you, the path on this section of the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk is relatively flat. Stick to the ridge and follow the trail as it first leads you westerly and then northerly as the path swings around the head of the valley.
Be sure to stop and appreciate some of the dramatic gullies that run from the cliff’s edge right down to the valley floor. Furthermore, as you find yourself atop the easterly facing ridge, take some time to gaze right at the impressive view along the dramatic rugged cliffs upon which you have just walked.
Continue following the trail north keeping the fence to your left, until you reach a wooden stile. Cross over at this point and follow the path directly ahead of you for approximately 250 metres to the trig point indicating the summit of Fan Frynych. From here, you will get to enjoy contrasting northerly views across extensive Powys farmland.
It is now a case of retracing your steps to and across the stile once more. Now, simply follow the path that heads off directly ahead of you.
Into the Valley
On this section of the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk, the trail meanders gently as it guides you towards the valley floor. As you progress, you become more and more sheltered from any breeze/wind that you may have encountered whilst on the ridge.
As a result, you will now get to enjoy the orchestra of bird sound from the numerous breeds that inhabit this exquisite location. Make sure you keep an eye out for this birdlife as well as the insects and mammals that call this place home. What’s more, the huge precipice of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad can now be appreciated from a whole new perspective.
Continue along the trail and before long the path intercepts the one on which you commenced the walk and in minutes you will be back at the starting point.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Walk – Our Thoughts
We love everything about the Brecon Beacons National Park and the incredible variety of walks that it offers the hiking community. This is just another example of the broad mix of hiking trails in the national park.
There is little doubt that the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk is one of those unsung trails owing to its close proximity to Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales. In my opinion, if you are heading up to the section of the Brecon Beacons, avoid Storey Arms and the hoards filing up Pen y Fan and head here instead.
If you get there early, you will almost certainly have the walk pretty much to yourself (as I did) and without the masses, you will get to appreciate the location in its true natural setting.
Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Walk Q & As
How long is the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Walk?
2.7 miles / 4.3 km
How long does this walk take?
2 – 2.5 hours
How difficult is the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad walk?
I would define this walk as moderately challenging owing to the steep initial climb to the top of the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad ridge.
Flora & Fauna
The wild landscape of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad is worth visiting at any time of the year. Early spring to mid-summer is a great time to witness the reserve’s spectacular range of wildflowers and also its birdlife that includes peregrines, kestrels, red grouse and the rare ring ouzel. In August and September, the hillsides come alive with the glow of heather.
There are more than 500 types of plant here including about 100 different mosses and liverworts. The prize, however, goes to the arctic-alpine wildflowers that grow on the north-facing rocky cliffs.
They include purple saxifrage, mossy saxifrage, serrated wintergreen and green spleenwort. The cliffs are, in effect, a ‘vertical woodland’ with trees and shrubs of hawthorn, rowan, ash and rare whitebeams.
Note: Craig Cerrig Gleisiad is a national nature reserve and it is therefore imperative that you stick to the paths at all times to avoid damaging the unique and varied flora and/or disturbing the wildlife.
Furthermore, between May and October the nature reserve is grazed by both cattle and sheep. Also, mountain ponies roam the reserve year-round. If you are walking your dog, please ensure that they are kept under close control at all times.
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